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'Covid-19 causing people to accelerate big life decisions' - pandemic causing more tech executives to put down roots in Dublin

Covid-19 has caused workers to think long term and make the capital home

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Ireland's high-flying tech executives are putting down roots in Dublin, according to one of Ireland's leading estate agents.

The news comes as chief economist with KBC Bank, Austin Hughes, said it is "too strong to call it [demand for property] a 'frenzy' right now, but certainly it has jumped up several notches on people's list of priorities", a year after Covid-19 first hit Ireland.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent Owen Reilly, who specialises in property for Ireland's technology workers, said: "Covid-19 is causing people to accelerate big life decisions. Whether it's moving out to the suburbs or buying a home with their partner because they were separated in the first lockdown, or the need to call Dublin 'home' because the world looks so crazy right now, people are very much thinking long term.

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"A huge trend we are also seeing is that there are a lot of Irish returning home from London, Australia and America to be closer to family because of Covid-19 and they are going to impact on the market in the coming years."

On the demand from Ireland's silicon workers, he said: "A lot of the big technology executives are unquestionably starting to buy. They came here several years ago, met their partner, some have children in school and Dublin has become 'home'.

He said: "I recently met clients from the US who moved here for the lifestyle, the stable environment and the cheap schools. One gentleman told me they were paying €36,000 a year in Seattle, so they can't believe the value of private schools locally."

The tech workers are paying between €400,000 and €2 million for homes in Dublin's leafy enclaves, as salaries for those working in the sector have risen substantially in recent years.

Those at the top end of the scale are now earning as much as €180,000 per annum.

Meanwhile, economist Austin Hughes says the return of Ireland's diaspora is going to place further pressure on the market.

"The chaos around Brexit has made the UK a less attractive proposition in the long term and the bright lights of London have also been dimmed by their handling of the health crisis.

"It won't be a 'flood' coming back but there will be a significant tranche of people and - given the scarcity of property - all you need is a trickle to make an impact."

He said the "distressed sellers" we saw in the recession have turned into "distressed buyers", as the economy stays "surprisingly resilient" due to government support.

Ken McDonald, head of estate agents Hooke and McDonald, said Dublin planners are gearing up to position the city as a "city of wellbeing" in the coming years.

With its young population and scalable size, he says: "We are going to see huge changes in the layout of the city over the next two years.

"From looking at Dublin planning projects, we are going to see a move against urban sprawl and we will have better connected suburbs.

"There will be a concerted effort to encourage development close to jobs, amenities and public transport. And also to have denser, greener neighbourhoods which will improve the quality of life and support healthier patterns of work. It will be done in a way that will connect the urban neighbourhoods.

He said: "At the moment they are not fully linked with one another. So, for example, it's hard to get from Dundrum to Dún Laoghaire, or Castleknock and Phibsborough, even though they are relatively close. So what planners hope to achieve is better connectivity between them and to interlink each suburb in a number of ways."

Sunday Independent

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