This year produced difficult working conditions for most Irish companies, with many struggling to keep above board. The property market in general failed to excite, with the ongoing trend of falling house prices and excess supply over demand. However, despite the general perception that ‘nothing is selling’, the team at Property Partners Maxwell Heaslip & Leonard have had a busy year.
“We’ve had a very busy year,” said director James Heaslip MIPAV. “Our new partnership was formed in November 2010 and in the year since then we literally haven’t stopped. It certainly has been a difficult year, but we have managed to capitalise on the synergies the merger has created and we are very happy with the results. Our auctions throughout the year proved very successful and our rental business has gone from strength to strength.”
According to Fergal Leonard MIPAV, a cost conscious attitude and an extreme focus on achieving results were key components of the company’s successful year. “Using our individual expertise and competencies has proved very successful for us,” he said. “We devised our strategy at the beginning of the year, stuck to it, and we have now seen the results. Now we are looking forward to 2012 and planning for the year ahead.”
Official statistics from the CSO present no surprises in relation to house prices. In Q4 2010 the average house price in Galway was €222,259. This represents a 35 per cent drop in prices from the high of an average of €343,916 in Q4 2006. This downward trend continued throughout 2011 with house prices in Galway city and county continuing to fall. The official figures, when released next year, are likely to show a drop closer to 50 to 60 per cent from the 2006 high.
With the amount of uncertainty still prevalent in financial markets, 2012 is likely to be another difficult year for house prices, however according to the company it would appear the corrections have now largely taken place and price decreases are likely to be less than those seen in 2011. “From April onwards, we had a number of property sales which would catch the eye of even the most pessimistic pundit,” said company director Alan Maxwell MSCI MRICS. “We handled the sales of three landmark properties in Furbo, Barna, and Oranmore, all of which achieved above their estimated market values.”
The company’s auctions since the beginning of the year have enjoyed considerable success with most properties selling on the auction floor or by negotiation shortly afterwards. In general, prices achieved were reflective of the advised minimum values.
“The auction route is becoming more popular with many buyers realising that it can be the most transparent form of purchasing,” said Mr Heaslip. “Sale prices are largely reflective of the AMV, which highlights the importance of accurately setting the AMV. We develop a four-to-six-week marketing campaign with our clients in the run up to every auction, and key to success on the day is to accurately value the property. This has been one of our major strengths and pivotal to our success on the floor. We believe that our membership of professional bodies, the Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers (IPAV ), the Society of Chartered Surveyors of Ireland (SCSI ), and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS ) has been important in our valuation process.”
Some exceptions to this rule were seen in the sales of No 23 Frenchville (November 10 ) and No 46 Rahoon Road, which sold in last month’s auction. The former had an AMV of €280,000 but eventually sold at €335,000 following a long bidding process. The latter, while guiding a modest AMV of €85,000 due to the extent of renovations required on the property, sold for €160,000. According to Alan Maxwell these particular sales are just two examples of the importance of location in dictating success on the auction floor. “Properties in prime locations are still, and in my opinion, will always be, popular and saleable properties,” he said.
2011 was a hugely successful and busy year for the rentals department of Property Partners Maxwell Heaslip & Leonard. “We knew that when we merged our two businesses in 2010, that our rental division would become a formidable force in the Galway rental market,” said Fergal Leonard. “We have a long history of rentals and many of our landlords have been our customers for 15 to 20 years. Over the years we have improved our services and we continue to look for ways to provide superior services to both our landlords and tenants.
“Throughout 2011 lettings have increased by 12 per cent and rents for the most part are stable, which appears to be bucking the national trend,” he added. “Occupancy on our rental properties is currently running at 97 per cent, with most properties renting within one to two weeks from becoming available, depending on location and condition of the property.”
The commercial market has certainly seen very turbulent and challenging market conditions in the last number of years and 2011 was no different. It was certainly a difficult year, however, despite this, it was evident that a certain realism had crept in transactions on the commercial end. “We were involved in multiple negotiations between landlords and tenants throughout the year and while most of these negotiations were difficult, a certain sense of pragmatism certainly came into play,” said Alan Maxwell. “Another topic that was a priority for most of our commercial clients is commercial rates. We conducted reviews for many of our commercial clients resulting in the possible review or reduction of their rate charges.”
In among all this activity, the company still found time to enjoy a cup of tea and a cupcake with clients at its annual ‘Pink Tea’ morning held in October, which raised €1,100 for Action Breast Cancer.
It will be straight back to business in 2012 as the company prepares for the first auction of 2012 in February. Full details can be obtained by contacting any member of the team on (091 ) 565261.