Under a plan devised by Jan O’Sullivan, Ireland’s Minister for Housing and Planning, over 40 of the worst “ghost estates”, housing developments abandoned before construction was completed, will be abandoned next year.

Forty of the worst estates were chosen by the Department of the Environment, along with the local authorities. They have been in contact with the banks to analyze these “candidate estates'” viability and economic futures on a case-by-case basis.

The owners of these properties are considering whether to comply with the local authorities to clear the sites or propose an alternative plan for the property. Many of the properties could be returned to green field status.

Most of these “candidate estates” are located in rural areas and many never got beyond the foundation level. It is expected that other estates will be added to the list in the coming months, according to the Irish Times.

A spokesman for the Ministry said the “candidate estates” chosen are those identified as having no commercial viability.

Currently, there are fewer than 1,300 ghost estates in the country, which compares to 1,770 in 2012.

In the past 12 months many ghost estates have been brought up to standard thanks to investment from local authorities which provided access to main roads, along with sidewalks, roads, lighting and other services in the estates. $13.5 million (€10m) in funds was allocated to provide these services in estates where the homes were, for the most part, occupied. Local councils can apply to use these funds.

A spokesperson from the department told the Irish Times, “If this works by attracting the private finance to finish out a number of estates we can make the case to do it again.

“As of now we have the funding for 2014 but €10 million is just enough for the first phase of a program to deal with problem estates.”

Although the Irish property market has been showing signs of improvement following the economic collapse of 2008, buyers have been taking advantage of the distressed market.

Earlier in November a ghost estate in County Carlow went to auction at the reserved price of just $13,000 per home or $260,000 for all 20 properties.

This year there has also been a marked increase in Americans coming to Ireland and investing in property, more specifically, Irish castles. For example, American billionaire John Malone, chairman of the cable and telecom giant Liberty Global, snapped up 427-acre Humewood Castle in Kiltegan, County Wicklow. Malone paid just $11 million (€8 m) for Humewood last year, about a third of what it sold for in 2006.