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House Hunting in ... Ireland

Three buildings make up this contemporary home built on 39 waterfront acres in rural County Cork. The two-bedroom main house was completed in 2008, and a three-bedroom guesthouse in 2010. A third building has a double garage, a gym, a home office and an artist’s studio. Solar panels supply hot water for all three structures, and there is under-floor heating throughout.
The main house is floored with a sustainable African hardwood called afzelia doussie. The living room has a granite fireplace, exposed roof beams and a wall of built-ins. The kitchen backsplash is a single sheet of red-tinted glass; countertops are black granite. There is a black Aga stove, and an open floorplan connects the kitchen with the dining and family rooms.
The second-floor master suite includes a dressing room and two private balconies. In the en-suite bath, the trough-shaped porcelain sink is over three feet long, and the enameled tub has ocean views.
The property was once a dairy farm, and part of it is still used to pasture a neighboring farmer’s cows. There are three manmade lakes, and the current owners planted 3,000 trees native to the region, among them rowans, oaks and willows. The coastline abutting the property is rocky and steep, but a public beach is five minutes’ walk. The nearby village of Castletownshend has a popular pub and a small market. The nearest restaurants are five miles away in the town of Skibbereen. The Cork airport is 75 minutes away by car.
“We are starting to see signs that the economy is slowly recovering,” said David Duffy, a housing economist with the Economic and Social Research Institute based in Dublin. Starting with the recession in 2007, said Alasdair Pritchard, head of the Irish residential desk for the London-based real estate firm Knight Frank, prices dropped a dizzying 60 percent. But that was after having risen 250 percent between 1997 and 2006, so Mr. Pritchard said the nose dive during the recession could be viewed as a necessary if painful price correction.
 It is hard to generalize about County Cork’s large waterfront estates and lifestyle properties because there are so few of them for sale. But Mr. Pritchard says the market is picking up slightly, spurred in part by foreign buyers and Irish expatriates returning home. “In the good days,” he said, “prices for waterfront estates in Cork were over 5 million euros. Now they’re worth about 1.5 to 2.5 million.” Prices vary depending on condition, size and water access.
“At the moment we’re seeing 25 percent of our purchasers coming from out of Ireland,” said Clare O’Sullivan, a real estate agent for Savills Ireland. They come from the United States and Britain — and, increasingly, from Russia, tempted by tax incentives that the Irish government put in place to stimulate the property market, according to Mr. Pritchard. Both he and Ms. O’Sullivan have seen a significant number of Irish expatriates coming home to buy property, seeking bargains now that prices have fallen so far from their peak.
There are no restrictions on foreign buyers in Ireland. Mr. Pritchard says that although immigration law restricts the amount of time foreigners can spend in the country, some Americans of Irish descent have been able to qualify for Irish citizenship.
 Transaction costs include a stamp duty of 1 percent on the first million euros (about $1,292,900, at 0.77 euros to the dollar) of the sale price, and 2 percent on any amount over 1 million euros, Mr. Pritchard said. Most buyers hire solicitors, although their fees can vary. “An indicative figure would be 1 percent,” Ms. O’Sullivan said. One real estate agent usually handles the transaction for both parties, and the seller pays the agency fees.
Irish property search portal: myhome.ie
Cork County tourism: cork-guide.ie
Castle Townshend: castle-townshend.com
English, Irish; euro (1 euro=$1.29)
Until this month, the only ongoing tax was an annual fee of $258 per household. But starting in July, Mr. Duffy said, a new annual property tax will replace the old one. Numbers aren’t finalized yet, but taxes on this property are expected to be around $2,580 a year, according to the current owner.

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