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    Estate agents struggling to meet demand for property, survey finds

    Estate agents say they are struggling to meet demand for property at present, especially from first-time buyers.
    A survey of 800 agents, carried out by the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, found that over two thirds predicted property price increases in the year ahead with 24% expecting prices to remain the same and 8% anticipating reductions.
    The average price increase in 2021 would be of the order of 4%, the report concludes, with lack of supply acting as the main driver of prices.
    Property prices in Dublin are expected to see average increases of 3%, while Connacht-Ulster – which has some of the lowest prices – will see an increase of 6%.
    An increase of 4% is predicted for Leinster while prices are forecast to increase by 5% in Munster.
    The report’s findings underline the scale of the supply challenges facing the market.
    While three quarters of agents reported sales instructions increasing or remaining the same in the third quarter, by the final three months of the year the figure had dropped to just over half with the remainder reporting a falloff in instructions.
    Several agents said the slowdown was ultimately due to lack of supply with potential vendors deferring selling due to the lack of alternative options.
    The Covid-19 pandemic largely dictated the market in 2020 and it looks like that trend will continue in 2021.
    “The transition to working from home has led to a reordering of priorities and is driving interest in larger properties in regional locations with good broadband and lots of amenities as well as holiday homes in secondary locations,” TJ Cronin, Vice President of the Society of Chartered Surveyors of Ireland, said.
    “The trend away from urban areas is also reflected in the survey’s price projections,” Mr Cronin stated.
    “While Covid-19 has badly affected certain sectors, it has enabled prospective buyers who work in areas which haven’t been hugely impacted, such as pharma, tech, financial and the public sector, to increase their savings.
    “We’ve also seen a big inflow of Irish people returning from abroad, to Dublin in particular, and this has underpinned prices at the upper end of the market. In a situation where you have very limited supply – 83% of agents report having low levels of stock available in Q4 – the fear of missing out on a property will very often trump the fear of paying over the odds,” he added.
    According to an analysis by consultants EY, the construction sector will not return to 2019 levels of completions until 2024 at the earliest.
    It is estimated that in excess of 21,000 housing units were completed here in that year with the figure expected to have dipped below the 20,000 mark once again 2020.
    A newly instituted closure of building sites in recent weeks will likely impact supply in 2021.
    The Central Bank, among others, estimates that up to 35,000 units need to be completed every year in Ireland to keep up with demand.
    The SCSI concludes that housing supply and demand equilibrium may not be achieved until after 2030.
    By that stage, it predicts the sector would need to be building in excess of 60,000 units per year, over three times the current output and almost double the official estimates. More

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    Conversion tactics: making the most of unused space in your home

    An attic or garage conversion offers new possibilities. Potential savings from a mortgage switch, along with additional funds could help to maximise your space

    Sponsored by Ulster Bank

    In part 10 of our Switch it Up series, we’re looking at ways to make more of the homes we already have by exploring the potential of conversion options. A little extra space goes a long way in the average three bedroom semi-detached family home and with people working, exercising and participating in most forms of relaxation and entertainment at home, maximising our homes’ potential is on many of our minds.
    Garages and attics can offer real scope for change and can also be used in a variety of ways. We spoke to architect Denise O’Connor from Optimise Design who takes us through conversions of both spaces.
    Going out into the garage
    If you’re lucky enough to have an adjoining garage, the chances are it is being used to store a host of bits and bobs such as lawnmowers, tools and bikes. Instead, it could be used as a home office or for a playroom, both of which are higher up the agenda for many right now. While some garage conversions can be done without planning permission, in most cases it will be required. If you want to add a new window to the front of the conversion or raise the roof height, you’ll need to seek planning approval.
    “Garage conversions make great teenage dens, home offices or playrooms, where you don’t need huge amounts of space,” O’Connor says, pointing out that as garages are often long and narrow, it is best to be realistic about usage.
    “Others knock out space to create a more generous hallway and cloakroom. You could also have a playroom or den at the front of the house and the middle space could then become a guest toilet or a bigger utility room that serves the kitchen. A long and narrow space is good for that,” she advises.
    In terms of what’s required, expect to undertake the following. “Often in garages the floor level will be different to the rest of the house, so there would be a bit of work required to bring it up to the same level as the rest of the house. That means you’ll need to take the roof off as your floor to ceiling level would be really low otherwise,” O’Connor says.
    As well as that, power supplies are often located in garages and would need to be moved, while plumbing and electrics should be run into the garage, depending on use. Often garage conversions form part of a larger two-storey extension project, so those considering building on top really do need expert advice.
    A garage conversion on an average three bed semi-detached property can cost from €2,000 per sq m. Photograph: Getty Images

    “It’s important that a structural engineer takes a look at the build-up of the walls and the foundations because often it is not possible to build on top of what is already there,” O’Connor says.
    For those craving space for boisterous younger kids or older, bored teens, a playroom/den is an excellent choice, and careful planning will help you get the best space possible.
    “They’re most successful when you incorporate built-in joinery so you can maximise your space. Clever units that incorporate a TV but also lots of storage for kids’ toys – or some built in seating that doubles up as storage are highly recommended.”
    For those who want the second sitting room option, be mindful of configuration, O’Connor says.
    “When you’re planning, the position of the door is really important to think about. I’ve seen some conversions where if the door had been moved a couple of feet towards the kitchen they’d have been able to fit a good sized sofa into the room. The wrong configuration can make things limited,” she stresses.
    A garage conversion on an average three bed semi-detached property can cost from €2,000 per sq m with the total cost for a single storey conversion likely to be in and around €50,000, including all finishes.
    “It very much depends on what is being put in there too. If you were considering a downstairs wet room, for example, that might change costs,” she notes.
    Converting the attic
    A habitable conversion is what many people go for if they are planning something like a full master suite running the length of the property, including walk in wardrobe and en suite. Photograph: Getty Images

    Attics are something we don’t tend to think about except when we’re taking down the Christmas decorations or putting away the holiday suitcases. But there is plenty that can be done with this space overhead, and conversions fall into two categories: habitable and uninhabitable.
    The easiest to achieve is an uninhabitable conversion which can be finished for around €20,000. “You don’t need planning permission for an uninhabitable attic,” O’Connor advises. “Plenty of people use these spaces as hangouts, and they are valuable even if they can’t be classed as habitable. Insulating the attic is really worth doing as well as sound proofing as much as you can also.”
    An en suite will add value. Photograph: Getty Images

    On the other end of the scale is the habitable conversion which is what many people go for if they are planning something like a full master suite, including walk in wardrobe and en suite.
    “You can get a fabulous result with the attic and it opens up a whole new perspective for people in their home. This is untapped space right over your head, and is a superb way to make extra space for a home gym or office – it’s the ideal flexible space,” O’Connor says.
    The key to habitable attic conversions is headroom. “If it’s not comfortable enough for someone to walk around in, without raising the roof, it’s not a good idea. In the attic, 50 per cent of the floor area needs to be 2.4 metres high for it to be classed as habitable,” she advises.
    “The majority of houses won’t be able to achieve that without constructing a dormer ­– continuing out a flat roof section to give you that headroom. That needs planning permission and you should get professional advice if you plan to go down this route.”
    In terms of additions that add value, O’Connor says, “I would advise trying to get an en suite in, and make sure you include some kind of easy access to under eaves storage too, this is invaluable.”
    Depending on the size of the attic, a habitable conversion on a three-bed semi will start at around €35,000.
    For both attic conversion types, entry is another important factor. “Getting stairs up there can mean eating into one of the other rooms, often the box room, in order to get that run up. It’s important you take into account the space you will lose,” O’Connor says, adding “It’s much better if you can follow your existing stairs so it feels like a continuation.”
    About Switch it Up
    Switch it Up is a new 12-part series for those who might be considering switching mortgage provider to make savings on their monthly repayments. It is a follow-up to the award-winning Story of Home series, which explored the idea of home through the eyes of creative people who found their dream place to live.
    Now, Switch it Up, which like Story of Home is supported by Ulster Bank, looks at helpful information on home improvements as well as renovators’ home tours. Plus, we’ve got helpful answers to your mortgage switching queries: from the incentives to how long it will take (not long!) and what’s involved in making a mortgage switch, read our Everything you need to know about switching your mortgage guide at irishtimes.com/switchitup.
    Perhaps now more than ever, we want our homes to suit the way we live and work, and being able to explore the potential in our homes offers us flexibility. This series is designed to unlock the ways in which we might Switch it Up in our homes as our wants and needs change.
    Switching your mortgage could free up funds to help you make these changes. “At Ulster Bank, we want to be a part of the journey you take in making your home the best it can be,” says Sean Kellaghan, mobile mortgage manager at Ulster Bank.
    “We want to make the mortgage switching process as simple and as hassle free as you do,” he adds. Kellaghan understands the stress that can come with making a switch, and he offers reassurance.
    “We are here to help you, and the process is a lot shorter and a lot more straightforward than you might think. Get in touch today and we can talk you through the options and process.”
    For more information, visit ulsterbank.ie
    Ulster Bank Ireland DAC is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland More

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    Go up, go out: which extension type is right for you?

    Lots of us need more space or want to maximise what we already have. Potential savings from a mortgage switch, combined with additional funds could be the way to create a dream layout   Sponsored by Ulster Bank   For many of us, space has become something we’ve been thinking a lot about over the…
    The post Go up, go out: which extension type is right for you? appeared first on MyHome.ie Advice & Blog. More

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    Housing market showing resilience in the face of Covid-19

    The housing market has not been severely impacted by Covid-19 and has outperformed expectations, according to a new report from Goodbody.
    Its latest BER Housebuilding Tracker – which it calculates using data from Building Energy Regulation certificates – estimates that 5,500 units were completed in the third quarter of the year.
    That was up from 3,290 in the second quarter of the year, when the pandemic restrictions were at their most severe and building sites were closed down for several weeks.
    According to Goodbody’s calculations, that left output just 3% lower year on year.
    “This suggests that productivity levels have not been as severely affected by social distancing measures as we would have feared,” Dermot O’Leary, chief economist with Goodbody said.
    “We now expect 20,000 units to be completed this year, down 8% year on year, and up from our previous estimate of 16,500,” he said.
    The Central Bank estimates that 35,000 completions a year are needed to satisfy demand.
    However, Goodbody also said there were some indications that the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic may be longer lasting.
    Many of the completions in the most recent quarter were accounted for by developments being completed at a faster pace.
    In the three months to August, housing starts fell by over a third.
    Goodbody also revised downwards its expectation for house price reductions.
    It now expects prices to fall by 5% by the middle of next year – half its previous forecast.
    Rents are expected to fall to a greater extent, the stockbrokers also predicted.
    “Mortgage lending is making some recovery, but we still expect new lending to fall 20% in 2020, before growing by 9% next year,” Mr O’Leary said.
    “Given the unpredictable nature of the virus and the government reaction to it, forecasts are still subject to a higher degree of uncertainty than normal,” he added.

    Tags: Ber housebuilding tracker, Goodbody

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    Cosy and colourful: this Wicklow cottage is a décor delight

    Switching your mortgage could offer you the opportunity to create your perfect space. For designer Emma Edmonds, doing the work herself is all part of the charm

    Sponsored by Ulster Bank

    In part eight of our Switch it Up series, we discover the cosy country cottage owned by interior designer Emma Edmonds. Lockdown was a time when many chose to try their hand at some form of amateur DIY, but when you’re a professional like Emma is, and you’re working from home, house renovations can be taken to a whole other level.
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    Emma works as a designer and colour consultant for Stillorgan Décor and lives with her dog Maxi, “the love of her life”, in a beautifully renovated home in Ashford, Co Wicklow.
    A stand-alone cottage, it is a stone’s throw from Mount Usher Gardens and Avoca, and is compact in size with a sitting room, kitchen, bedroom and a dressing room, as well as a wonderful porch that blends the inside with the outdoors, which was built by Emma’s dad.

    Having bought her house 10 years ago, since then she has worked hard to turn it into her dream home. Plenty of inspiration came from visiting Martha’s Vineyard in the US on a trip with her mum a couple of years back.
    “The house was built in 1984 and when I bought it, it was liveable, but a little run down. I’m on my own, I didn’t have anyone to help me financially or otherwise so my mum, dad and brother were great,” Emma says. “They came in and ripped up smelly carpets, took out old cupboards and a few big sheds out the back. Since then, I have made it more old-world. I love the white picket fence look in America and have incorporated that style into the house.”
    In her own words, Emma is “never done” updating the cottage in some shape or form, mostly by her own hand, and at little expense. But renovating took on a whole new meaning recently. Tearing down walls, building patios and painting everything in sight are just some of her newest accomplishments. It gave her “little time to worry” she says.

    “In my bedroom, there was a plaster board wall that stuck out and I could never get the bed in the right place. I tried everything including patterned wallpaper but nothing worked, so one night I took a hammer to it and knocked down the wall,” she laughs.
    Taking inspiration from American interior designer and presenter of TV show ‘Fixer Upper’, Joanna Gaines, she decided to put shiplap panelling on the wall instead.
    “On the show they find terrible houses in good areas and renovate them. When they pull off the wallpaper they almost always find this thing called shiplap, which is planks of wood going across the wall. I hid the old wall by putting that up myself. I ordered the timber locally, clicked it together, screwed it to the wall and painted it white. That changed the room hugely for me. I keep it very neutral, all white, and seasonally, I add pops of colour,” she says.
    The bedroom is the only room where colour takes a rest. The rest of the house pops with black accents, deep forest hues, earthy neutrals and candy pinks.

    “I am a visual magpie and there are no rules in this house when it comes to the pieces I fill it with. It’s a mix of antiques and modern and I have loads of old photos everywhere,” Emma says. “My grandmother was a huge influence on me – I lived with her when I was going to college. She was a really good gardener and won awards for it. I have her picture in the kitchen, watching over me as I’m cooking the apple sponge she taught me how to make.”
    As a colour consultant, Emma knows you can rip up the rule-book. “People are sick of greys and that industrial look and are going for rich earthy tones, so I have Farrow & Ball’s Sap Green in the sitting room, which is really warm and cosy.”
    Recently she painted another sitting room wall a deep mustard – so it, “now looks like a pumpkin latte”. A large mirror and ornate black fireplace complete the décor here.
    “In lockdown, I also painted the kitchen cabinets black and papered the ceiling with a tin-effect wallpaper to give it that honky-tonk vibe. Everything is on a budget, and is usually done by me,” she says.

    One of her favourite spots is her American-style porch, which doubles up as another room. It’s the perfect spot to have a drink or cup of tea with a friend, especially while restrictions are in place. “It’s covered on all sides but open to the elements and is so handy in summer,” she says.
    The garden is her haven. “It slows you down. I recently made a patio out the back, it nearly killed me but I didn’t have time to worry while lifting slabs,” she laughs, adding, “I have a day bed on the porch so I plonk down there and read a book while listening to birds singing, which is heaven.”

    While Emma is happy to turn her hand to almost any DIY task, she did pass on fixing a leaky roof. “A really good local builder sorted me out ­– he got me a roofer and took down the old popcorn ceiling. It was upsetting when it happened, but I have a new ceiling there now and it’s plastered and painted. That’s the one job I couldn’t do myself,” she says.
    Next on the agenda is a possible attic conversion. “The perfect place to showcase all my Vogue magazines”, she says. Whether Emma takes on that particular project herself remains to be seen, but it’s safe to say, no better woman for the job.
    About Switch it Up
    Switch it Up is a new 12-part series for those who might be considering switching mortgage provider to make savings on their monthly repayments. It is a follow-up to the award-winning Story of Home series, which explored the idea of home through the eyes of creative people who found their dream place to live.
    Now, Switch it Up, which like Story of Home is supported by Ulster Bank, looks at helpful information on home improvements as well as renovators’ home tours. Plus, we’ve got helpful answers to your mortgage switching queries: from the incentives to how long it will take (not long!) and what’s involved in making a mortgage switch, read our Everything you need to know about switching your mortgage guide at irishtimes.com/switchitup.
    Perhaps now more than ever, we want our homes to suit the way we live and work, and being able to explore the potential in our homes offers us flexibility. This series is designed to unlock the ways in which we might Switch it Up in our homes as our wants and needs change.
    Switching your mortgage could free up funds to help you make these changes. “At Ulster Bank, we want to be a part of the journey you take in making your home the best it can be,” says Sean Kellaghan, mobile mortgage manager at Ulster Bank.
    “We want to make the mortgage switching process as simple and as hassle free as you do,” he adds. Kellaghan understands the stress that can come with making a switch, and he offers reassurance.
    “We are here to help you, and the process is a lot shorter and a lot more straightforward than you might think. Get in touch today and we can talk you through the options and process.”
    For more information, visit ulsterbank.ie
    Ulster Bank Ireland DAC is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland

    Tags: Switch It Up, Ulster Bank

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    How to get a warm, energy-efficient home now and into the future

    Improving your BER rating is a great way to reduce bills. Potential savings from switching your mortgage along with access to grants could be the way to create your own cosy home

    Sponsored by Ulster Bank

    This winter our homes will be our havens. We are likely to be working from them, relaxing in them and we will likely be using more light, heat and energy than ever before as a result. Lots are thinking about an energy retrofit right now too, because insulation and heating upgrades can greatly improve comfort levels in the home – as well as reducing our energy bills.
    So, in part seven of our Switch it Up series, we’re talking to two experts who explain how to maximise the efficiency of our homes.
    Many of us are a bit bamboozled by the process of upgrading our properties, and are unaware of the grants available to help us to bring our home from a low building energy rating (BER) to a higher one.
    A BER is a grading, from the highest at A1, to the lowest at G, on how much energy a home requires for heating, hot water, lighting and ventilation. The goal for many is to have an A-rated home. Better for the environment, achieving it will save you lots in energy bills – but many homes are nowhere near this grade.
    Architect Gearoid Carvill of ABGC Architects explains what a bad BER means for a property and how to achieve a better one. “CSO statistics tell us that more than 50 per cent of housing in Ireland is D-rated or lower, so most of us have direct experience of bad BERs. Typically, a lower grade means that the house is more expensive to run.
    “Studies show that improving BERs add value to homes and that changing up one level, say from C2 to C1, equates to a 1 per cent increase in property value,” he says.
    To improve a BER, the simplest and most inexpensive changes can help. “I have seen refurbishment projects where you could improve the rating by swapping out the light bulbs with LEDs,” he reveals.
    When considering a more significant energy efficient retrofit of a property, Carvill recommends homeowners start with the ‘thermal envelope’ – that’s the walls, floors, roof and windows.
    “In an uninsulated home, a third of the heat is lost through the roof,” he says. “Insulate your attic with a minimum of 350mm quilt insulation in layers between, and above the ceiling timbers. You could also insulate the water tank if uncovered.”
    “Then look to heating controls and update your heating system. You could replace an oil or gas boiler with a heat pump or by adding solar, to heat hot water, which can be done with an existing tank. Update heating to controls for time, temperature and zonal, if feasible. An individual thermostat costs from €70 to €200. Thermostatic radiator valves sense the temperature in the room and adjust the flow. They are inexpensive, less than €20 a radiator,” he adds.

    For retrofit refurbishment there’s a holy trinity: comfort, economy and environment. If done right you should achieve all three, regardless of which is your priority.

    Wall insulation and window upgrades go together. The cost of insulating a compact three bed semi-detached property could be around €14,000 to €16,000, but significant grants exist towards the work. The price for triple-glazed AluClad windows will be similar, he adds.
    Typically the average 3-bed semi-detached property will perform much better and be more comfortable once work is done.
    In terms of your energy costs, “previously published data by the SEAI suggests that for a 3-bedroom semi, the costs per annum could be €190 for an A1-rated home, and €4,000 for the G-rated home,” he says.
    Grant help
    While there are significant costs attached to many of the works, grants of up to €6,000 are available for most of them from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).
    Tom Halpin, head of communications with SEAI, says to apply for a grant, start with a BER assessment carried out by a SEAI-registered assessor. The certificate and advisory report provided will explain what works can be undertaken to improve the home’s energy performance, and what works should be prioritised.
    There are a range of grants available. “There are grants for attic and wall insulation which make the home cosier and keep in heat,” he says.
    “Once you have sealed your home and it is more efficient, you move to improving the heating system. Grants for heating controls are available and we are also encouraging renewable heating systems in the home – that could be solar panels to generate hot water or going all the way towards using a heat pump. The lowest grant is €400 for attic insulation and highest is €6,000 for external wall insulation on a detached house,” Halpin says.
    Once you have decided on the works you want to have carried out, the process of applying for a grant is quite simple.
    “You must decide what contractor you want to use – and there are hundreds of contractors from across the country listed on the SEAI website that are committed to the terms and conditions of the grant scheme. They have the properly qualified staff to do the work and can be inspected by us at any time,” he says.
    “You need a metre point reference number which is written at the top of a bill from your electricity supplier. You then go online, put in all your details and select the measures you would like to undertake, and the contractor that you want to use, and you will get almost an instantaneous approval if all of that is in order.
    “You then have eight months in which to get the works done. Once you get the offer, you can schedule works with various contractors. Grants are paid directly into your bank account or can be paid directly to the contractor. You must then get a BER assessment carried out after the works to see the uplift to the property,” he finishes.
    Homeowners can also engage with energy supply companies such as SSE and ESB, which offer to manage the works as it helps towards their energy reduction targets.
    One major benefit to an energy retrofit is that a BER rating generally translates to a higher resale value of the property. However, Halpin says this isn’t usually a homeowner’s motivation.
    “The first big benefit is the comfort in their home, and research has shown people realise immediately that comfort,” he adds.
    For retrofit refurbishment there’s a holy trinity, Gearoid Carvill says. It is “comfort, economy and environment. If done right you should achieve all three, regardless of which is your priority.”
    About Switch it Up
    Switch it Up is a new 12-part series for those who might be considering switching mortgage provider to make savings on their monthly repayments. It is a follow-up to the award-winning Story of Home series, which explored the idea of home through the eyes of creative people who found their dream place to live.
    Now, Switch it Up, which like Story of Home is supported by Ulster Bank, looks at helpful information on home improvements as well as renovators’ home tours. Plus, we’ve got helpful answers to your mortgage switching queries: from the incentives to how long it will take (not long!) and what’s involved in making a mortgage switch, read our Everything you need to know about switching your mortgage guide at irishtimes.com/switchitup.
    Perhaps now more than ever, we want our homes to suit the way we live and work, and being able to explore the potential in our homes offers us flexibility. This series is designed to unlock the ways in which we might Switch it Up in our homes as our wants and needs change.
    Switching your mortgage could free up funds to help you make these changes. “At Ulster Bank, we want to be a part of the journey you take in making your home the best it can be,” says Sean Kellaghan, mobile mortgage manager at Ulster Bank.
    “We want to make the mortgage switching process as simple and as hassle free as you do,” he adds. Kellaghan understands the stress that can come with making a switch, and he offers reassurance.
    “We are here to help you, and the process is a lot shorter and a lot more straightforward than you might think. Get in touch today and we can talk you through the options and process.”
    For more information, visit ulsterbank.ie
    Ulster Bank Ireland DAC is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland More

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    MyHome.ie Webinar – A chat with Ronan McKenna of Glenveagh Homes

    We’re delighted to bring you another MyHome.ie Webinar today.
    In this week’s episode, we chat to Glenveagh Homes sales director Ronan McKenna about the new homes market in Ireland,
    Ronan discusses Glenveagh’s series of new developments around the country, what impact Covid-19 has had on them and what is coming up in the weeks and months ahead.
    Check it out below…
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    For further details on Glenveagh Homes visit www.glenveagh.ie More

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    MyHome.ie Webinar – A chat with Davy chief economist Conall Mac Coille

    We’re delighted to bring you the 10th MyHome.ie Webinar today.
    In this week’s episode, we chat to author of the MyHome.ie Property Report Conall Mac Coille, chief economist with Davy.
    Conall outlines what the report is telling us and discusses the various challenges the market will have as it looks to rebound out of lockdown.
    Check it out below…
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