House Hunting in Ireland: A Lakeside Victorian Mansion for $2.6 Million

This eight-bedroom Victorian mansion, called Kilteelagh House, sits on the southeast shore of Lough Derg, a 32,000-acre lake in County Tipperary, about 100 miles southwest of Dublin, Ireland.

Built circa 1863 with the exposed stonework and hipped polychrome slate roof of the High Victorian Gothic style, the 10,904-square-foot house features five reception rooms, soaring ceilings, a finished basement level and an attached courtyard building with an artist’s studio and rec rooms.

The secluded 25-acre property also includes a barn, garage, equestrian facilities and a substantial boathouse that was once the home of the Lough Derg Yacht Club, which is now based in a neighboring bay, said David Ashmore, a managing director with Ireland Sotheby’s International Realty, which has the listing.

A paved driveway winds from an arched stone gate through timbered parkland to a gravel forecourt. The house’s entrance porch opens to a reception hall linking to an inner stair hall with doors to a study, drawing room, dining room and rear hall leading to the kitchen. The house retains period features such as intricate cornicing, plaster ceiling roses and carved timber architraves on doors and windows. Furniture is not included in the asking price, but may be available for purchase, Mr. Ashmore said.

The interconnected drawing room and study have wood-burning fireplaces with marble chimney pieces, and the drawing room has a raised seating area with lake views. The dining room has a marble fireplace, plaster ceiling rose and chandelier, while the open-plan kitchen, expanded from what had been three separate rooms, has an island, granite countertops and a cast-iron fireplace. A separate dining area has a solid fuel stove.

Beyond the kitchen is a family room with a stove, along with a bedroom and bathroom. The ground floor extends to the courtyard building, which has an artist’s studio with double-height ceilings and other rooms.

The first-floor stair hall has a large Venetian-style window and ornately carved timber staircase that ascends to a second-floor landing accessing five bedrooms and three bathrooms. The master bedroom has large bay windows overlooking the lake, a coved ceiling, cast-iron fireplace and a dressing room.

The finished basement level has several rooms, including two bedrooms, two bathrooms, an office, living room, laundry, boot room and wine cellar. Outside, a terrace with a barbecue pit is surrounded by Victorian-style gardens with seating areas among mature shrubs and trees. The boat house has a harbor and includes two timber pontoons.

Kilteelagh House is just outside Dromineer, a village of about 100 residents with a pub-restaurant and a 13th-century castle among its attractions. About six miles southeast is the town of Nenagh, with about 9,000 residents and a variety of shops and restaurants. The surrounding area offers activities like golfing, horse racing, fox hunting, and trails for walking and cycling, Mr. Ashmore said. Limerick City, with about 100,000 residents, is 30 miles southwest, and Shannon Airport, with direct flights to the United States and Britain, is about 50 miles southwest.

Ireland’s housing market enjoyed a robust recovery in the years following the global recession of 2008, with prices rising by 82.6 percent from their nadir in early 2013 to April 2020. However, the ascent tapered off considerably in 2019, slowed by stricter lending rules, increasing supply and the uncertainty surrounding Brexit.

The national residential property price index rose by 0.93 percent from October 2018 to October 2019, down from the previous year’s rise of 8.34 percent, according to Ireland’s Central Statistics Office.

“The housing market pre-Covid was performing well,” said Guy Craigie, director of residential Ireland for the Knight Frank brokerage. “House prices have stabilized over the last year, having shot up for five years after the crash over a decade ago.”

Buyers paid a mean of 296,606 euros ($330,000) for a dwelling in the 12 months before April 2020, according to data from the statistics office — still about 18.1 percent below the peak in 2007.

“The market was becoming more balanced,” said James Butler, head of country agency Dublin for the Savills brokerage. “New supply had finally begun to catch up with the pent-up demand and, as a result, we were seeing more orderly and moderate rates of price and rental growth.”

Restrictions imposed to fight the global pandemic “effectively froze the housing market over the last three months,” Mr. Craigie said. But with many of those restrictions lifted as of June 8, “we are beginning to witness a strong rebound in activity,” he said.

Currently, the average house price in Ireland is 304,000 euros ($340,000). In Dublin, the capital, the average is 587,000 euros ($656,000), Mr. Butler said, while “average farmland values have been very consistent in recent years at around 9,000 euros ($10,100) per acre.”

While the International Monetary Fund expects Ireland’s economy to contract by 6.8 percent, and the country is seeing a pandemic-adjusted unemployment rate as high as 26.1 percent, according to the statistics office, brokers were generally optimistic about a market recovery.

“We believe we’ll see a shortage of supply over the coming months, partially due to the cocooned cohort not wanting to sell, which will act as a break on price declines,” Mr. Craigie said. “Most of our clients don’t have to sell and won’t do so until they both feel safe and that they are getting a fair price.”

Country estates, like Kilteelagh House in Tipperary County, may be viewed even more favorably by prospective buyers who were confined in tight urban dwellings during the lockdown, Mr. Ashmore said.

Travelers entering Ireland are still required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, which may slow the recovery in housing sectors popular with foreign buyers, brokers said.

However, Mr. Ashmore said, “anticipating a relaxation of this requirement or the availability of testing on entry, many are making tentative travel arrangements in anticipation of being able to travel.”

Mr. Craigie said he didn’t believe the quarantine was hurting the market, as many prospective buyers are viewing listings remotely, particularly for newly built properties. Foreign buyers seeking larger estates often send a locally based representative, such as a family member, for initial viewings, Mr. Butler said, adding, “We expect to see more of this in the forthcoming months.”

Historically, foreign buyers — many of them returning Irish expatriates — accounted for about half of the sales of country estates in Ireland. But the past decade, that’s grown to two-thirds, Mr. Ashmore said.

“The U.S. has been the strongest source of foreign buyers in recent years, overtaking the U.K.,” he said. However, “the emergence of European-based buyers was the big news of 2019, and this trend seems set to become a key factor of our market.”

Buyers from Asian countries, such as China and Singapore, also are a growing force in the Irish property market, Mr. Craigie said. “We expect this trend to continue to gain strength over the coming 12 months, bringing with it considerable buying power to the middle and upper ends of the residential market, with a special focus on Dublin,” he said.

There are no restrictions on foreign home buyers in Ireland, but there are residency restrictions. Those with a European Union passport can reside in Ireland, while those without may obtain a three-month visa, Mr. Ashmore said.

He noted that the Ireland Immigrant Investor Program, established in 2012, allows buyers from outside the E.U. to obtain residency “in exchange for making an approved investment in the Irish economy.”

Both buyer and seller must be represented by local lawyers, Mr. Craigie said. The cost of a lawyer is typically less than 1 percent of the sale price.

The other significant cost associated with buying property is stamp duty, which is 1 percent on the first million euros of the sale price, and 2 percent after that, Mr. Ashmore said. That calculation is for the residence or residences and up to one acre of land; for additional lands, the stamp duty is 7.5 percent, he said.

The seller typically pays the listing agent’s commission, which ranges from 1 to 2.5 percent of the sale price, Mr. Butler said. Buyers’ agents will typically charge between 1 and 2 percent of the price.

Mortgage loans from Irish banks are available to nonresident buyers, brokers said.

English; euro (1 euro = $1.12)

Based on Ireland’s property tax formula, annual taxes on Kilteelagh House would be roughly 2,250 euros to 2,500 euros ($2,500 to $2,800).

David Ashmore, Ireland Sotheby’s International Realty, 011-353-87-251-2909, sothebysrealty.com

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