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Low angle view of directional signs with buildings, Kenmare, County Kerry, Republic of Ireland

06 Jul 2017

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Kenmare is one of the best communities in the world to retire to. But don’t just take it from us – this claim was made by none other than Forbes magazine, in the early 2000s.

And these days? It’s fast becoming the ‘second home’ centre of the county. Kerry people seem to know it’s a great spot to buy a weekend home – yep, for locals, peculiarly enough. Why? Because prices have been low of late, and Kerry people are no fools.

For years, Kenmare has seen Corkonians, Limerick people, and those from further afield snapping up holiday and second homes around the town.

The demand (and secure prices) drove overbuilding on quite a scale – much of it tax-driven. When the housing collapse came, Kenmare was left with a huge amount of newly-built and unsold stock.

Lots of that overhang has been hoovered up in the past several years, and now the core buyers are Kerry people living within a short radius of Kenmare itself, hailing from not-so far-flung spots like Tuosist, Tahilla, Lauragh, and Healy-Rae territory up in Kilgarvan.

EBS Kenmare 8/12/2016

“It’s like a holiday in Kenmare every weekend for some,” observes Susan O’Sullivan, who does most of the mortgage business with Eleanor Connor-Scarteen in EBS Kenmare, revealing that a very significant part of their business in the last several years has, indeed, been second homes sold to Kerry people.

Kenmare – a price haven for home buyers
EBS Kenmare 8/12/2016

“People have reasoned that €100,000 sitting in the bank will make you close to zero at the moment, so why not put it into a house purchase?” Susan says, noting that there’s been a lot of options to buy at, or even under, €85,000 in recent times – though values are recovering strongly, and those who bought even two years ago have made very tidy returns.

According to Susan, the canny buyers have been able to use their Kenmare purchases for weekend entertainment, noting that if they were to come to town from their main homes of a Saturday for a meal and drink, a taxi could cost them €25.

This way, they have a weekend base within a walk of bustling Kenmare town and its top bars and restaurants. They can then go back to ‘regular' homes for jobs or school runs, Monday to Friday and “they save on tyres and diesel, if not on taxis!”

The Price Register itself shows the scale of pick up in and around Kenmare, with sales rising from 31 properties in 2010, to 44 in ’11, 56 sales in ’12, some 67 in 2013, and a jump to 104/105 in 2014/15.

However, whiles sales outside Kenmare just two years ago ranged from €12,000 to €36,000, buyers would need to know that in many cases, planning and usage restrictions apply. (For example, if limited to investment/rental use).

In at least one other local development, non-standard construction methods were used which makes getting mortgages harder to achieve, so they’re limited to cash buyers in the main.

Kenmare for First Time Buyers

There is still great value for first time buyers – phew!

As of May 2016, daft.ie lists 105 Kenmare properties for sale, and myhome.ie lists 86 properties for sale, of which 30 are priced under €200,000. Kenmare is popular too for first time buyers who want to build (rents rose 8% in the past year), though planning for one-offs is restricted, and unless you have a family gift of a site, you could pay either side of €100k for a plot, with only a handful ever advertised for sale.

Kenmare for Families

The good news for family house hunters is that decent, well-located homes are affordable, compared to days past, when ‘blow-ins’ with big budgets drove up Kenmare house value across the board.

“That’s no longer the case,” says Susan. Now a family can get a property for €300,000 that would have been €600k a decade ago. A budget between €200k and €300k** gives a raft of house options like bungalows of up to 2,000 sq ft, many close to town.

Kenmare for Relocators
EBS Kenmare 8/12/2016

People have flocked to Kenmare for decades, lured by lifestyle attractions, the best of food, scenery, sport, walks and warmth (a bit provocatively, Lonely Planet describes Kenmare as “the thinking person’s Killarney!”).

For decades people yearned for isolation – the acre, the cottage on the hill, the shack by the sea or a private retreat, but “that’s all changed, as buyers are coming into town now for convenience,” according to Susan, who notes they get regular inquiries about relocation purchases in the office.

And for those for whom budget isn’t really an issue, there’s still a few upper-upmarket offers left at John and Francis Brennan’s Retreats apartment scheme linked to the five-star Park Hotel. As of May 2016, you could buy the luxurious ‘Yew’ for €650,000. Last year, two other apartments here, called ‘Juniper’ and ‘Larch’, sold for €525,000 and €575,000, according to the Price Register.

We may have the Forbes article to thank for that!

Thinking of a new home?
EBS Kenmare 8/12/2016

Before you go house hunting it's a good idea to get your mortgage arranged – or at least discussed so you know where you stand.

Get the ball rolling with our First Time Buyer and Next Time Buyer guides.

If you'd like to talk through your mortgage options, book a 30 Minute Mortgage Meeting with Susan or one of the team in EBS Kenmare. You can also use our mortgage calculator to find out how much you may be able to borrow.

Don’t forget to visit our Facebook page for the latest home inspiration, news and great competitions.


Michael and Eleanor Connor-Scarteen Financial Services is a tied mortgage agent acting solely on behalf of EBS d.a.c. EBS d.a.c. is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

The content of this blog is expressed in broad terms and is limited to general information purposes only. Readers should always seek professional advice to address issues arising in specific contexts and not seek to rely on the information in this blog which does not constitute any form of advice or recommendation by EBS d.a.c.

EBS d.a.c. neither accepts nor assumes any responsibility in relation to the contents of this blog and excludes all warranties, undertakings and representations (either express or implied) to the fullest extent permitted under applicable law.

**Prices accessed on Daft.ie and MyHome.ie as of May 2016.

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