Business Post Ireland | 20 April 2021

Home is where the heart is in an age of pandemic

The Covid-19 crisis and Brexit have prompted the return of Irish expats, with competition for properties heating up.

The overlapping crises of Brexit and Covid-19 have led to a wave of relocating professionals to Dublin, many of them expatriates returning home for good. Opportunities in financial services, technology and business consultancy are multiplying in Ireland, creating a perfect storm of heightened economic activity and competition for properties.

At Inhous, we’ve seen a big increase in people moving back to Ireland. Some are coming because of Brexit: they may have been in Britain for 20 years, but its exit from the European Union was the trigger for them.

The pandemic has persuaded yet others to relocate, particularly given the financial and lifestyle benefits: school fees are more affordable here and, from a property point of view, they can get a lot more bang for their buck in Ireland.

One returning professional seeking a rental property in Dublin contacted us in January. Within a month, we had sourced a centrally located house with everything she required. We sent her walk-through videos of the property and saved her and her partner the cost of flights back and forth, as well as avoiding a need to quarantine.

It also saved them the hassle of making the effort to travel here only to be potentially disappointed if they deemed the property unsuitable.

This client was driven by lifestyle requirements: she and her partner wanted to be close to the sea, to friends and to her childhood city. She also cited the ‘push and pull of Brexit’ as a factor, fearing that remaining in Britain would limit her options. Greater career opportunities in Dublin and the pandemic ‘work-from-home’ regime were further factors.

Having an experienced agent, who knows the city and has the latest market intelligence and good relations with other property agents, appeals to overseas buyers. It also helps to have an agent on the ground to negotiate on a buyer’s behalf, thus taking the emotion and stress out of the process for them.

In this case, the client and her partner work in senior management at finance and technology companies and value the pan-European access of Irish citizenship compared with the newly restricted British environment.

After a period of renting, they plan to buy a property in Dublin and have indicated that they would also like Inhous services for that transaction.

Some professionals relocating from Britain to Ireland have kept their original jobs: working from home means you can operate as easily in Dublin as in London. The differences are that private schooling for your children typically costs a third of the London equivalent, you can get a large property with extensive grounds in Dublin for the same price as a modest apartment in central London, and you have the advantages of EU membership.

The new Nord Anglia international school at Sandyford in South Dublin gives relocating families further options, teaching the international baccalaureate – while charging top international prices. Indeed the whole society is more cosmopolitan, liberal and inclusive than it was a generation ago. Dublin has its own Latin Quarter, with Spanish and Italian restaurants, bars and boutiques.

The challenge is that so many people are now relocating that family homes are hard to find. If you’re looking for somewhere under and up to the €1 million price point, it’s not so difficult, but once you’re looking at €2 million to €4 million, with a wish list of features and facilities, it can take people a couple of years.

The stresses of Brexit and Covid-19 have further reduced supply, as elderly sellers, for example, have closed their doors and taken properties off the market. Uncertainty over future market conditions has undermined confidence along with the lack of mobility caused by the pandemic.

Once the lid is opened this month or in May, hopefully, things are going to get really busy. This is when a search agency like ours can be especially helpful.

I think that quoted prices from some Dublin agents are unrealistic. They might guide €2.8 million when we know that fair value is €2.2 million.

We can do comparisons with other properties on the market and use our knowledge of the area to advise clients. We can tell them how much they’ll need to spend on the property in renovation costs, for example. If a property has been on the market for a year or more, there is one thing wrong and that is the asking price.

Inhous works with a series of trusted partners, advising on tax, mortgages, financing, conveyancing, schools and more to offer entire relocation packages. We offer property solutions to private clients whether they are looking to rent, buy or sell. The property search capability is particularly valuable and unique, especially now as people cannot travel easily from over-seas to view potential properties.

The Irish economy, while suffering to an extent from Covid-19 like most of the world, has maintained a strong undercurrent of activity: technology companies, consultancies such as EY and Amazon and financial services operations such as wealth management companies are thriving.

There’s an increasing flow of business out of Britain and into Ireland, as Brexit continues to play out and companies take advantage of Ireland’s low-tax environment.

According to European Commission figures, Ireland was the only EU state to register economic growth in 2020, with an increase of 3 per cent in GDP Latest forecasts from the Central Bank show the country posting a likely 3.8 per cent GDP growth in 2021, followed by 4.6 per cent next year.

During the last 12 months, the country’s savers put €11 billion into their bank accounts, money that will doubtless flow into property acquisitions later in 2021, serving to boost the market yet further.

The upshot is that, as more professionals seek to relocate to Ireland, adding to the heat of an already active market, the more the services of agents like ours will be needed.

We’re getting to the point where people are overwhelmed. They can’t find a school, they can’t find a property We’re able to advise on schools depending on the family’s needs and source a good family home in Dublin through off-market contacts.

That can save someone a whole lot of time and stress, especially at the moment, when there’s enough Covid-19 stress going on.

Barbara Carty is a property consultant at Inhous, an independent residential property consultancy founded by Irishman David Johnson with offices in Dublin and London


Story originally published at the Business Post.

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