International credit agency Fitch has stated that it now expects property prices in Ireland to fall 60 percent from the peak values of 2007. The agency had previously predicted values to halve.
For the last couple of years, the Irish papers have been full of similar statistics. While the situation on the island is painful for many homeowners who find themselves now in negative equity, if you don't yet own on the Emerald Isle but would like to, this could be the time to start paying attention.
Until the past few months, the problem had been that sellers and agents hadn't yet learned to let go of their peak-value thinking. Properties were still being listed at hugely inflated and wholly unrealistic prices. As a foreign buyer looking at the market, you had your work cut out for you. How could you know where to start with an offer?
Now, five years on from the start of the collapse, the market is finally starting to make sense. The prices listed in agents' windows and on the web today are far more realistic, reflective of both Fitch's outlook and the figures for which properties are actually changing hands.
Does this mean it's time to jump in and buy a place of your own in this country? There's likely still room for more leveling in this marketplace. However, if you have your heart set on a foothold in Ireland, this is the time to start looking.
To give you an idea of what's possible, here are some examples of properties on offer in some of the most appealing and sought-after spots around this country that hold something special for the discerning expat or retiree:
200-year-old Georgian house with stables in Graiguenamanagh, County Kilkenny. On the banks of the River Barrow, "Graigue" is a tranquil, scenic village that's a favorite stop-off for bargers and a haven for fishermen. With mountain views, the house has five bedrooms, four bathrooms, a sitting room, kitchen, dining room, gardens, orchard, courtyard, stables, and stone outbuildings that could serve many uses. Price: 310,000 euro (about $415,000).
Muir Cottage at Kilmore Quay, County Wexford. Despite its best efforts, County Wexford, particularly the southern area and coast, is largely overlooked by tourists. Those in the know head to Kilmore Quay in summer for its long, half-moon stretch of white-sand beach, pretty harbor, and friendly cafes and restaurants. This three-bedroom cottage, with island views, has been refurbished to maintain its original features. On a half-acre, it's ideal as either a vacation or full-time home. Price: 139,000 euro (about $185,000).
Lodge and cottage on the Ring of Kerry. Riverstar Lodge in Kenmare is a two-bedroom home with an adjoining two-bedroom cottage. On 3.2 acres, it's on a quiet cul-de-sac with views over the Blackwater Valley. The main house has an open-plan kitchen/dining/living area, conservatory, bathroom, and two bedrooms. The cottage has a kitchen, living room, sun room, shower room, and two bedrooms. The property also includes a number of outhouses. Price: 185,000 euro (about $250,000).
Stone house in Kenmare Town. If village living is more your style, there's a charming little stone property in Kenmare proper, in need of modernization, for just 80,000 euro (about $110,000).
Period apartment in South Dublin. Dublin property still commands the highest prices, especially the south of the county. But who could fail to be charmed by this one-bedroom apartment-style home in Blackrock? Just 63 square meters, laid out over two floors, it has a living/dining room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, patio off the kitchen, 10.5-foot-high sash windows, and many period features throughout. Price: 160,000 euro (about $215,000).
Again, these are properties in some of the best locations throughout the country. A little looking can find you many cheaper options, too. For country-wide listings, www.daft.ie is a great starting point.
Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter. Her book, How To Retire Overseas--Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.