Category: Archive

Irish housing boom turns to U.S.

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

A similar process has taken place in tourism, where the rising numbers of Irish visitors to the U.S. is serving to deliver a small but tangible boost to big cities like New York and Boston. (In 2004, for example, almost 430,000 people from Ireland were permitted to enter the U.S. on non-immigrant visas.)
The increased transatlantic flow of people and capital is also beginning to be felt in the property market. According to some within the real estate industry, both Irish people and Americans are beginning to look at property purchases on the other side of the ocean less as exotic or risky endeavors and more as matter-of-fact investment decisions.
The biggest real estate company in Ireland is now trying to tap into this market. Sherry FitzGerald sold over 10,000 houses in Ireland last year in transactions that the company claims amounted to almost $50 billion. Its executives say it already does significant “international” business in Ireland catering to American, British and German clients seeking holiday homes. It has also had Irish people who have bought homes in the U.S. among its customers.
Next Wednesday (February 22), it will hold an “Irish Property Forum” at the Intercontinental Hotel in New York. According to Ian McCarthy, Group Director and one of the 16 people who own Sherry FitzGerald, the aim of the gathering is to inform people about opportunities for buying property in Ireland. McCarthy suggests that any direct sales on the night itself will be regarded as “a bonus”.
This will be the real estate firm’s first New York show, though it has annual events of a similar nature in both Dublin and London.
Earlier in the day, Mark FitzGerald, Sherry FitzGerald’s CEO, will address the Irish Business Organization at a $100-a-head lunch at the Manhattan Club on Seventh Avenue. FitzGerald, who is the son of former Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald, will talk about likely trends in the Irish property market between now and 2020.
It is understood that he will go into some detail in his predictions on this subject, including offering guidance on the likely performance of certain cities and the impact of specific economic factors on the development of Irish regional centers.
According to Ian McCarthy, Irish property continues to have “very strong prospects”, despite the explosive rise in property prices in the State in recent years. McCarthy says that demographic trends are part of the reason for his optimism – Ireland still has a conspicuously young population, which should translate into continued demand for new housing.
He also points to other factors including the underlying strength of the Irish economy and an influx of immigrants. (Approximately 70,000 immigrants came to Ireland last year, though a large number of those were Irish expatriates returning home.)
McCarthy argues that Ireland has particular attractions for American investors.
“One of the most important things about Ireland is that it is a safe environment – that is becoming more and more precious to Americans. It is also an increasingly multicultural society. And added to that, there are these long-standing links between Ireland and the United States in all areas of life,” he told the Echo.
McCarthy also emphasizes that the company hopes to attract Americans without Irish heritage, as well as Irish-Americans, to the New York show. He contends that Ireland has become increasingly prominent in global business terms, and that this has expanded interest in opportunities in the country:
“Ireland has simply become better-known globally. What that means in an American context is that it might be on a list drawn up by people looking to invest in property now, whereas it wouldn’t have been on their list before.”
Looking at the situation from the other side of the Atlantic, McCarthy also emphasizes that the U.S. remains attractive to Irish property investors. While he notes that big deals, such as the purchase by Irish businessman Derek Quinlan of a townhouse in Manhattan for more than $20 million last month, understandably receive a lot of publicity, there are also bargains to be found for Irish people with more modest bank balances.
In particular he noted that one-bedroom apartments in prestigious areas of Manhattan could often compare favorably with similar apartments in Dublin.
Next week, however, all his company’s efforts will be on trying to persuade Americans of the wisdom of buying in Ireland.
“There is this belief that Ireland has got so expensive that you simply can’t afford to buy there,” he says. “That’s just not the case.”

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