04 Dec 2018

The tech take for property search in Dublin’s hot housing market

A slew of City names are moving operations to Ireland ahead of Brexit – but that’s far from the only thing putting pressure on housing and commercial property markets starved of new build. For wannabe expats and putative pied-a-terrers, technology offers an edge in nabbing the best places to live and work.

Searching for a home can be a time-consuming distraction for busy executives. And these days, finding a place in Dublin, where property is chronically in short supply and prices are rising, can be a nightmare.

 

Those who are new to the city are learning this the hard way. But we’ve been speaking to many clients who are turning to technology, specifically virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), for assistance. These interactive, immersive technologies allow prospective buyers to virtually visit a property by turning a two-dimensional floorplan into 3D structures.

 

Ciaran Leddy, of Investec’s Private Client Lending team in Ireland, says VR is at its most helpful when it allows clients to visit properties that are already on the market. This allows any property hunter to visually interact with pre-loaded images and videos shown in 3D - before even setting foot on the plane to Dublin. AR, on the other hand, enhances a “try before you buy” feel, allowing a buyer to envisage the final look of a property in the development stage.

 

‘Both enable people to narrow down the field so they can decide which properties they want to visit.’

That’s important not just because site visits are time-consuming for people who have little time to spare – but also because it can give the buyer a leg up in Dublin’s hyper-competitive housing market.

 

Conditions are a far cry from the bust that followed the financial crisis in 2008-2009, even though the effects of the housing collapse continue to be felt.

 

Some of those who bought during the bubble became “accidental landlords”, according to Investec Ireland Chief Economist, Philip O’Sullivan. With high rents and house price inflation running at around 6% a year in the capital, there is no real incentive for these people to sell.

 

Unemployment has also fallen to a 10-year low of 5.5%. “When you have 67,000 jobs a year being created in a country where the population is growing by 65,000 a year – but a housing market that is building only 19,000 units a year – it becomes clear that the path of least resistance for residential prices and rents lies to the upside,” says O’Sullivan. 

 

Along with a tight residential market, Dublin’s booming economy has led to acute competition among multinationals for floorspace. “Prime office rents have doubled since 2012 to c. €60 per square foot, and are now back to 2007 levels,” says O’Sullivan. Dublin’s headline vacancy rate has fallen from 20% in 2012 to c. 8%.

 

O’Sullivan predicts the “Brexit effect” will also result in an uptick in demand for office space as employers seek to ensure unfettered access to the EU single market. “AR is going to speed things up for a lot of people – and is something that is going to be embraced,” says O’Sullivan.

 

Leddy says that as more high-paying jobs move to Dublin, both VR and AR are “something that’s going to become rise in popularity.” For these new workers, being able to get intimate with offices and homes, or even simply narrowing the field before arriving in the city, is a key advantage.

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