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Tulira Castle, Co Galway. Going price about €6.5m
deep pockets

Can't afford a house like this? Well, at least now we know who can

Buyers from the US, UK and China are all gunning for Irish trophy homes, agents say.

IRELAND’S STATELY HOMES are going to international buyers as the relative cut-price going rates for the country’s rural estates attract cashed-up property shoppers from the US, Europe and Asia.

Property agents Ganly Walters said ex-pat buyers were dominating the top end of the market for country homes and nearly 80% of interest in a typical estate was coming from outside Ireland.

In its property outlook for next year, the agency said easily the biggest share of potential overseas buyers came from the US, accounting for nearly 25% of the total interest.

UK residents were the next-biggest market, followed by people from Spain, Canada and China.

Ganly Walters managing director Robert Ganly said international buyers were dominating the market for €2 million-plus properties as post-boom prices meant Irish land was a bargain compared to similar estates overseas.

“Property prices are historically cheap, country houses are historically cheap,” he said.

“Land prices, for the first time in my memory, are actually cheaper than they are in the UK.”

Ganly Walters Ganly Walters Ganly Walters

Ganly said many big estates were going to wealthy ex-pats who wanted to bring their children to Ireland to take advantage of the country’s school system or to plan for their retirement.

“I think, basically, there is an awful lot more money abroad – the Irish economy suffered a huge bang (when the bubble burst) and most people are significantly poorer now,” he said.

Going cheap… and overseas

A number of prestigious Irish properties have transferred into overseas hands over the past two years as prices plummeted from their pre-boom levels.

Dublin’s Walford, dubbed Ireland’s most expensive house when it sold for €58 million at the peak of the property boom, was sold to a company registered in Cyprus last year for €14 million.

Meanwhile, the US’s biggest private landowner, John Malone, bought Co Wicklow’s Humewood Castle for less than €8 million in late 2012 – a fraction of the €25 million it changed hands for before the property bubble burst.

READ: Number of properties on the market ‘at lowest level’ since 2007 >

READ: We should cap how much people can borrow or risk another property bubble >

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