Properties in league of their own
Kinsale has done tourism, par excellence, since the 1960s, and with 50 years of international kudos under its belt, visitor appeal from far- flung places and home shores too has naturally also fed into a very healthy property market, much of it buoyed by buyers from abroad.
“Kinsale continues — as always — to be a niche market of its own, and demand remains consistent with strong prices now being achieved right across the board,” says estate agent Catherine McAuliffe, a director in Savills, Cork.
Apart from some highend listings (plus a €775,000 ‘ lifestyle’ Ballywilliam farmhouse cluster with beguiling old stone barns on six acres near Eli Lilly where a € 200m biotech expansion is about to start at Dunderrow), Savills has been actively selling two new- build schemes, Convent Walk with Cumnor Construction, and Cluain Mara. The latter nearly sold out (see separate new homes section) for Dublin- based developers associated with Clarendon Properties, and making a steady foray into the overall Cork market.
According to Ms McAu- liffe, thanks to the spread of existing stock and the supply since last year and into the next as well as new builds, “Kinsale remains a go-to location for expats returning home, especially from the general Cork area, and it is still affordable to those that at one time perhaps only aspired to living there”.
Why? “Of course the attraction is lifestyle, without a doubt; views, and access to the sea, a variety of beaches and every water sport you can think of.”
There’s also proximity to Cork City and airport, half an hour away or less, and putting London and other European destinations within easy reach.
Oh, and there’s also a certain thing called the Old Head of Kinsale Golf Course, which has lured some of the planet’s wealthiest people to play. It’s a huge income generator for Kinsale, and has also fed into the purchase of some of the area’s top private homes. (Sources say Donald Trump ran his financial rule over the Old Head, before plumping to buy Doonbeg instead. Kinsale, breathed a sigh of relief.)
Preparing to launch the significant Kinsale Manor development of 136 new homes later this summer, Paul Hannon and Johnny O’Flynn of Sherry FitzGerald say: “Kinsale is seen as a brand, with wide appeal and good access to Cork Airport. It’s also the entrance to the Wild Atlantic Way.”
From pre-registration inquiries, they say the demand is coming from FTBs, both traders up and traders down, and second- home hunters.
They note the lack of available stock in all house price brackets in Kinsale, and with a number of the more significant top prices recorded in the last several years, Mr O’ Flynn says viewers for the larger properties “have come from the locality, Dublin, the UK, US, Hong Kong, and, most recently Saudi Arabia.”
“Brexit has not impacted in Kinsale’s second- hand market, as the US buyer appears to be very strong at present,” he adds.
Local agent James Murphy says most of his sales are to Irish buyers, either trading up or who’ve already sold. He operates out of Kinsale and claims 53 sales in 2016. “That’s nearly one a week... and they were not small properties either!”
A significant proportion of his sales were to people who had been renting, he adds.
( Speaking of shortage of housing supply, while Daft. ie records 92 Kinsale properties for sale, it has just 11 up for rent, some at up to €2,500 a month and the town has always been strong in the corporate rental sector. The cheapest is €750 a month, advertised by people trying to sell a rural bungalow and hoping to rent it to a ‘caretaker’ who’ll mind it, and the gardens, and pay what they say is a below- market level rent, during the sales process.
Long-time Kinsale agent Victoria Murphy says the town is “is back thriving, compared to a few years ago. Builders’ vans are everywhere, working on a combination of estates, much needed I am sure, as well as on some delicious, one- off houses. And to get a plumber is like looking for hen’s teeth!”
With some new Kinsale housing stock priced over € 550,000 and into the €600,000 range, Ms Murphy says there’s scope for those prepared to think more broadly. She instances a large but dated dormer built decades ago by Joe Neville, called Riverview at Mansfield lands, on nearly an acre with outdoor swimming pool. I t guides at €600,000, but may be sold for less, and has further site potential, she reckons.
“Most people want to live in town, near everything. The hardest properties to sell are those out of town: Parents hate the fetching and carrying of kids. And, elderly people — there’s lots of those in Kinsale — and the retired want to be able to walk to the pubs and restaurants that it’s so noted for.”
Coming up roses: Despite fears of a slowdown in US FDI investment after Donald Trump’s election as US president, Kinsale-based Eli Lilly has confirmed a further expansion worth €200m at its Dunderrow, Kinsale plant.
Originally controversial, the Old Head Golf Links, Kinsale has had a major money-spinning effect on Kinsale, and its property market