Ireland's housing market downturn may finally be coming to an end, buoyed in part by the country's burgeoning Chinese community.
According to the Knight Frank Global House Price Index, Irish residential property prices rose 1.5 per cent in the third quarter of 2012, bringing to an end six years of price falls. It is early days and only the most optimistic onlooker would say prices will start rising steadily from now on.
However, the sales market has become busier in 2012 and looks likely to remain so, because more domestic buyers are making purchases following a lead set by Irish expatriates and other overseas-based buyers who entered the market in numbers earlier this year.
Members of Ireland's Chinese community have been active in the market since 2011.
Noting the Chinese community’s penchant for property investment and growing demographic importance in Ireland – the Chinese population has grown from 1,000 in 1986 to 60,000 in 2010 – the country's pre-eminent property consultancy, Sherry Fitzgerald, has been holding property investment seminars specifically for them.
Ireland's Chinese buyers have made their presence felt at highly successful Allsop Space property auctions, which have shifted previously hard-to-sell homes since April 2011 by pricing them at below estate agency valuations.
In an auction on December 4, 2012, three semi-detached houses in Dublin were bought by Chinese buyers at prices starting from 116,000 euros.
In previous auctions, city centre flats were bought by Chinese investors and retail premises by Chinese traders looking to benefit from future capital growth and rent-free occupancy.
High yields of between 7 to 9 per cent on residential and commercial property and price falls of up to 70 per cent since 2006 are attracting Chinese buyers. Added incentives include exemption from Capital Gains Tax for seven years on properties bought before the end of 2013.