Some light on horizon for local property market

The local property market has “bottomed out” and there appears to be some light at the end of the tunnel.

That is according to one of Castlebar’s longest established auctioneers, Brian Moran.

Mr Moran was speaking at an event in the Welcome Inn Hotel, organised by the Ulster Bank and four other local businesses involved in the property market, on Wednesday evening. The event aimed to walk people through the steps involved in buying, building, or renovating a home.

Caroline Costello, manager of the Ulster Bank in Castlebar, also told those in attendance that the bank is “open for mortgage and personal lending business” with eight out of 10 first-time buyers getting mortgage approval.

Mr Moran said the last four to five years had been “carnage” but he was starting to see interest once again from young couples looking to buy a home.

“The market is becoming more buoyant,” he added. “We’re busier than we have been in recent years.”

He said the much reported two-tiered market, where property prices are rising in Dublin but stagnant, or still falling, elsewhere, was a fact.

However, Castlebar was fortunate in that it did not have ghost estates and large swathes of surplus vacant housing stock on its outskirts like some other towns, such as Mullingar.

“Yes, there is an overhang in the market but, slowly, we’re starting to sell,” he said.

Ms Costello has worked in branch banking for 23 years. She said she had seen the good times and the bad.

“We are lending,” she confirmed. The bank is lending to first-time buyers, first-time builders, those trading-up or moving house, switcher mortgages, and also investment properties, although not to the same extent as before.

She said checks and proofs are required for mortgages, including reverting to a system used in the past whereby applicants have to demonstrate an ability to save 50 per cent of a mortgage repayment for six months in advance of approval.

“Talk to us,” she advised. “We should be able to give you a good indication as to whether or not we can get you over the line.”

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