Christmas in Killarney...80% Off!
In Ireland these days, your real estate dollar goes a long way. Today’s fire sale auctions have exposed true market values that can be 80% lower — and sometimes more than 80% lower — than the peak prices of 2007.
Today, real estate agents and sellers know that to even have a chance of finding a buyer they have to sell at deeply distressed rates. You know things are bad when real estate agents don’t even bother with photos on listing websites. That’s the case in Ireland today. And it’s particularly the case in rural areas away from the big cities.
But sometimes those rural areas are exactly the type of place you’d choose for a second home. The Ring of Kerry, in Ireland’s southwest, is the most scenic drive I know. It takes you through more than a hundred miles of countryside in County Kerry. Along her peninsulas, calm bays, sandy beaches and wild Atlantic shores. Starting at the base of MacGillycuddy’s Reeks (a mountain range with Ireland’s highest mountain) in Killarney, your route brings you around the Iveragh Peninsula, through two of Ireland’s prettiest towns — Kenmare and Sneem — and to the long sandy beaches and beautiful Atlantic at Waterville.
There are attractions and jaw-dropping lookout points along the way. You can take a boat to the steep, rocky Skellig Islands and hike to an ancient monastic settlement. Here, monks lived in tiny stone beehive huts, perched above sheer cliff faces battered by wild Atlantic storms. The island environment is so hostile that the monks stayed safe from attack for centuries.
Or you could take in a lunch of oysters and Guinness in a gourmet stop like Kenmare. Or spend an afternoon pottering around the home of Daniel O’Connell (an Irish patriot) after a long walk on the beaches and rocky headlands of Derrynane. And here, far west on Kerry’s peninsulas, you can stroll on the first tee at 7PM during the summer months and still play a full round of golf. It won’t get dark for another 3 or 4 hours. The warm summer evenings feel endless.
This is also a great place for walking and biking. The more I travel overseas, the more special this part of the world is to me. It’s a great location for a second home. Five years ago a budget of $500,000 didn’t get you far here. Today, the vacation and second home market is particularly distressed.
Makes sense, right? If you are under financial pressure, the first thing to go will be your vacation home. And there’s a lack of buyers.
So today, on the Ring of Kerry, even a budget as low as $100,000 puts you in the game. Sneem and Kenmare are two of my favorite towns along this route. Protected bays mean the ocean here is calm. It’s a great area for boating and fishing. Close to Sneem, I found 45 acres of coastal land. Access is by boat. Two ruins of cottages sit above the bay. These are important. You won’t get permits to build on land like this unless there is, or was, a structure there already. That’s why outbuildings, even ruined ones, can be valuable. I’m guessing there’s at least half a mile of coastal frontage. Maybe more. You could meander up the bay to Kenmare at your leisure. The seller is asking €75,000 ($95,563).
In Ireland, real estate is sold by estate agents. There is no MLS. Nor is there an official registration of sales prices. But there are two websites where both agents and owners advertise their listings: http://www.myhome.ie and http://www.daft.ie.
You’ll find most properties for sale advertised here. These sites are a good way to compare asking prices in different locations and neighborhoods. But don’t take the asking price as gospel. If an asking price seems on the high side, don’t be afraid to make an offer.
For folks with a high-six-figure second-home budget, the Irish countryside is offering some eye-popping deals. I recently visited the historic Slevoir — a magical Victorian Italianate mansion set on the banks of Lough Derg in County Tipperary. It was built in 1870 and designed by John McCurdy, who designed Dublin’s Shelbourne Hotel. The estate sits above Lough Derg.
Today, you can buy Slevoir for €650,000 ($823,029). This includes a 15,000 square-foot house, stables, gardens that stretch all the way down to Lough Derg, a private marina and 40 acres of farmland. More farmland is available to buy separately.
Farmland is good here. You can pay up to €10,000 ($12,662) an acre. If you ﬁgure the farmland could sell for €400,000 ($506,340) you’re getting the house and stables for only €250,000 ($316,462)!
Lough Derg is one of three large lakes on the river Shannon. It’s a playground for boating, ﬁshing and sailing. As the owner of Slevoir, starting from your private berth, you could cruise the longest navigable waterway in Ireland.
The walled garden at Slevoir is substantial — maybe five acres. A tunnel brings you from the stables and walled garden area to the kitchen and servants’ quarters. The entrance hall to the house is a stately baronial hall. A glazed atrium illuminates a carved timber staircase. Ceiling plasterwork — the main feature of the principal hall and reception rooms — is ornate and decorative. There’s a double drawing room and dining room with a curved bay window and a study.
On the second ﬂoor, you have a brightly lighted gallery. It leads to seven bedrooms. (There are 11 bedrooms in the main house.) On top of the gallery is a four-story bell tower. The stable block could be converted into up to 20 row houses, guest suites or offices.
You enter the main house from the village of Terryglass, by way of a long lane lined with stone walls. Limerick City, Galway City and Shannon airport are about an hour away by car. Dublin is roughly a two-hour drive away, depending on traffic.
A developer bought the place some years back with plans to build a luxury golf and fishing resort. But then the Irish real estate bubble burst. The project was doomed.
This house needs work. And it would be expensive to heat and maintain. But it would make a great family stronghold. It would also make a great country guesthouse. Or sailing school. Or company headquarters…
Deals like this aren’t a one-off. There are lots of them. And there are more to come. It all depends on what you are looking for. As I said, Slevoir needs some work. But you could also buy something in move-in ready condition. And there are plenty of bargains with these, too.
This house in the grounds of Adare Manor in County Limerick is more of a move-in type deal. It’s a couple of minutes by car, or a relaxed stroll, to the first tee of Ireland’s finest inland golf course. It’s also right on the edge of Adare Village — known for its thatched cottages and buzzing restaurants.
The current owner originally listed this 16,500-square-foot manor for €12 million ($15.18 million). Talk in the local pubs is that he refused an offer of €10 million ($12.65 million.) He just accepted a new offer. He had dropped his asking price to €1.9 million ($2.4 million). I’d bet that is less than half of what he spent on construction and fittings alone.