CSO median house price: €238,000
2024 prediction: up 3%-5%
Sales were steady for most of 2023 in Carlow, increasing by 3 to 5 per cent, but dipping slightly at the end of the year. “The market has been strong in general, but I’ve noticed fewer people on the ground in recent months,” says James McDermott of Sherry FitzGerald McDermott. “The cost of living is beginning to have an impact on people’s spending power. They’re also less likely to borrow and this, coupled with consecutive interest rate increases, is beginning to bite. There’s definitely a situation where there are fewer people engaging and those that are are ready to go.”
The typical buyer in Carlow last year wanted a new home, and many of these were non-nationals who worked in finance, pharmaceuticals or engineering. In addition, first-time buyers, downsizers and upgraders were buying properties. There was a cohort of people moving from Dublin because Carlow is an easy commute to the capital, and like elsewhere in Ireland, landlords were leaving the market. Since 2005 very few apartments have been built in Carlow.
Good quality second-hand homes exceeded price expectations, while tired units, those that had been previously rented out or were in need of modernisation were under-performing. “A well-presented family home that doesn’t need work is likely to do very well at the moment and this should continue in the coming year. Those that need remedial work are being penalised by virtue of the uncertainty of access to labour,” he says.
Family homes, especially new ones, were the most popular in Carlow last year, while the cost of construction affected the sale of renovation projects and self-builds.
New developments include a second phase at Cois Dara in Chapelstown, and Meadows Way in Graiguecullen, which will continue output in 2024.
McDermott expects the market to stabilise in 2024: “I don’t see prices in Carlow changing because construction costs are so high. But I think that inflationary pressures will have an effect.”
‘We are proud of our small, vibrant community’
Mary White, local business owner
Carlow may be the second smallest county in Ireland, but its size does not stop it from thriving. The county is rich, with the Blackstairs mountain range being one of its best-known features, and it has lots of hidden gems such as St Mullins, a village along the River Barrow.
It is also steeped in history and is home to Brownshill Dolmen, which has a capstone that is believed to be the largest in Europe. Not all of its history is ancient, though: Duckett’s Grove, located between Carlow town and Tullow, is a ruined 300-year-old house set in acres of parkland.
Carlow, which is 90km from Dublin, is well connected by public transport. Its county town is a lively spot — thanks to its two third-level educational facilities, the South East Technological University Carlow and Carlow College, St Patrick’s, it is a student town with plenty of bars, cafés, and shops to cater for students and non-students alike.
Mary White runs Blackstairs Ecotrails, an award-winning eco-tourism business in the Blackstairs mountains and the Barrow Valley, with her husband, Robert, and daughter, Dorothy-Ellen. She has lived in Carlow for 43 years and set up the business ten years ago. She says Carlow is a vibrant place to live.
“My local community is vibrant. There is much going on here with supportive networks for the arts, tourism and local businesses. Being the second smallest county in Ireland, we are proud of our little county with its big welcoming heart. The arts and tourism are huge here, and if you love cosy cafés, we have them. Carlow is a small county, but small is beautiful.”