Property crash: House prices expected to plunge by half

Irish real estate values to plunge by 50 percent as property crash worsens


Property crash: House prices expected to plunge by half

The price of the average house in Ireland is set to drop by nearly 50 percent from their eye-popping peaks.

New figures from Ulster Bank show that housing prices have already dropped by 35 percent and another 10 percent is expected through the end of 2010.

Mind you, that's a conservative estimate from the lending side of the equation, who clearly want to see an improvement soon.

But developers fear it will be even worse. They say the value of development and commercial land will drop by about 70 percent which will push the house prices down even further.

"What's happening here," said one developer, "is that people like me bought land at the peak with the idea of selling $500,000 apartments."

"Now we're left with over-priced sites which we can't get a loan to develop, and even if we could get a loan, no-one's going to pay $500,000 now for an apartment. We're up to our necks in it."

In County Cork, Greencore Group has shelved plans to build a 400-acre development in Mallow.

Greencore - which took over Irish Sugar in 1991 - planned to convert Irish Sugar's former factories which were idled when Irish Sugar closed its doors in 2005 and 2006.

At the time, property prices were on a one-way climb and Greencore planned to build houses, offices and even golf courses at the former factories.

However, Greencore has shelved those plans and does not intend restarting the projects any time soon.

“You would be insanely optimistic and absolutely naive to think there’s now a market for building out the sort of developments that were envisaged 18 or 24 months ago,” said Greencore CEO Patrick Coveney.

It’s “not clear at all that it’s bottomed out,” said Coveney, 38. “I would question people who assert with seemingly absolute confidence that the property market is going to go up in years to come.”


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