Home buyers bid for bargains

Property at 15 College Gardens, Belfast

A LARGE house in one of Belfast’s most elegant terraces sold for £200,000 yesterday, a fraction of the price such properties achieved at the height of the boom.

The College Gardens home was one of numerous properties across Northern Ireland that sold for far above their reserve price at the bustling sale in Belfast’s Europa Hotel.

College Gardens is a collection of listed terraced houses in a prime location between Methodist College and Queen’s University.

A number of the homes were bought at the height of the boom for prices in excess of £1 million and have since been repossessed.

The College Gardens house that was sold at the BTW Shiells event yesterday, number 15, was in bad condition and in need of a complete overhaul. It had been previously used as hostel accommodation for students. There is planning permission to convert the premises into apartments.

The reserve price (the minimum price that must be achieved before a sale) for the four-storey property was £80,000, but keen bidding quickly pushed the price far higher.

Two nearby terraced houses in College Gardens attracted little bidding last year at the equivalent BTW Shiells auction, and were agreed for £230,000 – a mere £115,000 per house.

They had sold at the height of the market for a combined price of around £2.3 million. In the meantime, they became almost derelict.

The College Gardens house sold yesterday morning was the first lot of the auction and it set the tone for the rest of the sale, in which only one property failed to sell because it was withdrawn.Most lots were sold for far above the reserve price.

Hundreds of people packed one of the hotel’s largest reception rooms for the sell-off.

The College Gardens lot was one of a number of properties on offer that had plunged in value since the height of the housing price boom in 2006 and 2007.

Among the other cut-price sites were two adjoining properties in Coalisland on 4.4 acres of land that is zoned for planning permission, and which are believed to have sold for more than £3 million in the boom.

They fetched a joint price of £202,500 yesterday, more than 90 per cent down on the peak, but considerably in excess of the auctioneer’s £75,000 reserve price.

There was keen interest in a substantial period property set amid trees and located half-a-mile from the centre of Dromore, Co Down. Located on the town’s Circular Road and in need of refurbishment, it fetched £97,500, almost double its £50,000 reserve price.

And a former bank in the other Dromore, in Co Tyrone, also came close to doubling its reserve.

The minimum price for the Main Street building had been set at £60,000 but bidding carried that up to £137,500.

Other sales included apartments in Belfast, land in locations such as Manse Road on the outskirts of the city, and Lake Road, Craigavon.

A plot at Garryduff Road, Ballymoney that was intended to be sold yesterday had been sold prior to the auction and was withdrawn.

Another property, in south Belfast’s Tates Avenue, was withdrawn without having been sold.

Not every lot went above the reserve. Some, such as a building in Ann Street in Ballycastle, struggled to attract bids, and only sold when the £65,000 reserve was cut on the auction floor by more than £10,000.

A property in need of refurbishment in Market Street, Ballymoney, sold for its reserve of £20,000.

One of the properties that went the furthest above its minimum price was a large period block in George Street, Ballymena, which sold for £120,000, well above its £50,000 reserve.

Taken together, the 50 lots had a combined reserve price of £2.1 million. The final overall price achieved was more than £3 million.

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