Housing, it’s the topic on everyone’s lips lately. From house prices to rental prices, mortgage interest rates, planning permission, retrofitting and the cost of building materials, there’s plenty to discuss.
It’s no great secret that house prices in Ireland have been rising for some time.
Traditionally though, a lot of the talk around rents, house prices and housing supply, centred on cities. While rural areas have experienced increased demand for housing in the past, it was nowhere near as pronounced as in urban areas.
Of course, that was all pre-pandemic.
Like almost everything, housing was not exempt from the effects of COVID-19. The pandemic turned the Irish market on its head as house prices began to skyrocket outside of Dublin.
This rise in rural house prices is not anecdotal either. It’s backed up by cold, hard facts.
The Daft.ie House Price Report for the last quarter of 2021 shows an increase in house prices in every county in Ireland. Across the country, house prices were, on average, 7.7% higher in the last quarter of 2021 than the corresponding period in 2020.
However, by far the largest year-on-year rises were in rural counties.
Year-on-year, the most significant house price increases were 19.2% in Co Leitrim, 18.5% in Co Mayo and 17.2% in Co Wexford.
Looking at counties that have both urban and rural house price data highlights a stark contrast. In Galway county, house prices rose by 15.8%, while in Galway city the increase was just 1.6%. In Waterford county, house prices rose by 14.4% and 7.5% in the city.
The difference was slightly less pronounced in Cork. House prices rose by 7.6% in the county and 5.5% in the city.
Outside of Dublin, Limerick was the only county with both urban and rural house price data that did not follow the trend. House prices in the city increased by 6.4%, while in the county they increased by 5.3%.
In Dublin city centre, house prices rose by 2.4%.
Rents followed a similar trend in the same period. They are rising at a significantly higher level outside of cities.
Year-on-year, comparing the last quarters of 2021 and 2020, rents rose by 22.5% in Roscommon. Rents in Dublin city centre rose by 7.2%.
This increase in demand for rural housing is backed up by the Daft Coastal Report 2021, which documents the changes in coastal house prices since the onset of the pandemic.
Ten coastal areas from Donegal right around to Wexford and Louth were examined. Comparing pre-COVID-19and post-COVID-19 house prices, all areas bar one showed house price increases in excess of 20%. Some were much more pronounced.
House prices increased by 54.2% in Kilmore Quay, Co Wexford, post-COVID-19. House prices increased by 51.2% in Dunmore East, Co Waterford, and 39.4% in Lahinch, Co Clare, in the same period.
Dr Tom Gillespie, environmental economist at NUI Galway (NUIG) and Trinity College Dublin (TCD), provided economic analysis for both of these Daft.ie reports. He says the onset of working from home due to the pandemic has played a key role in the rise of house prices outside Dublin.
“It’s a combination of locals wanting to come back and new people wanting to move there. There’s an increase in demand for living in those areas and there’s increased opportunity for living in those areas because of remote working.”
With the specific rise in the price of coastal properties, Dr Gillespie says people’s preference to be near nature, specifically “blue space” (ie near water), played a huge role in the increase.
“Previously, a lot of people, generally speaking, would have had to make the choice between living close to nature and living close to work. The pandemic shifted those preferences, really. It was no longer the case that you had to be beside one or the other, depending on what line of work you are in.
“A lot of people who were living in the city didn’t want to be in the city. There was that shift to move out of the city and go somewhere more in-line with their way of life or what their preference is for where they’d like to live, ie by the coast, in the countryside or close to nature.”
These house price increases are the largest since Daft.ie started its price index in 2006. Prices have risen at such a sharp rate in rural areas, Tom explains, because housing stock is not there to meet demand.
“You’ve got the shock to demand and you’ve really got no change in supply, because supply can’t really react to that shock and demand, especially in these rural areas where supply is already limited or very slow to react. It wouldn’t have the capacity to react to a big demand shock like that, so that’s why we’re seeing these big price rises.”