Regional Property Development
Business Development Manager Conor Feeney shares his expert perspective on Ireland’s regional property market:
As Regional Development Manager, what are your responsibilities?
My role is to seek out suitable residential development finance opportunities with capable developers in good locations. I use experience gleaned from many years of development finance provision to help structure a funding package that will provide what each developer needs. I am the key point of contact for developers, locally.
What geographical areas do you cover?
I cover the entire country, but have particular responsibility for Cork, Galway, and Limerick.
How are you a helpful link for developers in their quest to build?
I enjoy meeting developers, discussing current projects, brainstorming opportunities, and, ultimately, finding ways to structure comprehensive funding packages. At present, Castlehaven is providing more development finance than any other specialist development funder in Ireland, so we have a breadth of relevant experience I can call on to help developers as they consider their options. The level of finance we provide is far beyond what other providers can offer and our track record shows just how effective our model is.
How is the development industry different outside of Dublin?
Having grown up in a small town, I have a genuine appreciation for the challenges and benefits of life outside the capital. Currently, there is demand for homes throughout Ireland as families grow and seek to maintain roots in their communities. That being said, lower average incomes in these areas mean less potential new home buyers—especially given the current cost of construction. As a result, regional developers must know their market extremely well in order to ensure appropriate pricing and build choices. Their work requires knowledge of local services and planning-related issues, along with access to the necessary skills and labour. These additional challenges present themselves particularly to developers outside of the capital, but when executed well, the payoff for regional development is there.
Why is it important that CH has a business development team assigned specifically to cities outside of Dublin?
It is essential. The property market in Dublin is unique from the rest of Ireland. Cork, Galway, and Limerick each have their own opportunities and challenges. It’s important that we dedicate a team to understanding each facet of the industry so as to better serve our clients.
What are you looking for when it comes to potential projects in your regions?
I look for proven capability on the part of the developer as well as evidence that there is demand for the type of units, pricing, and numbers proposed.
Why is development in regional cities important for Ireland’s economic stability?
Though Dublin is attracting significant inward investment, the housing shortage means that the city’s transport and infrastructure are under pressure. Meanwhile, each of Ireland’s other main cities also have attractive quality-of-life benefits. If we can provide high-quality housing to support the investment taking place in Cork, more families will be likely to settle there. Likewise, Galway offers many charms for residents, despite some traffic issues. Castlehaven is currently supporting projects all around Galway City, which will hopefully allow purchasers to live closer to their place of work. Limerick is perhaps Ireland’s best kept secret. It has all the benefits of a city without many of the challenges and living there is affordable, relative to other areas. Development of all three cities would not only benefit local economies, but would also take some pressure off of Ireland’s congested capital city.
When it comes to development, what’s happening in Cork, Galway, and Limerick?
Castlehaven has had a presence in Cork since late 2017 and is now funding a significant pipeline of developments there. Cork’s residential market was badly hit during the recession, but its people are known for their resilience. Despite challenges, development work continues and Castlehaven is there to support! In Galway, a lot of potential development land is tied up. For this reason, new projects are thin on the ground, but I’m delighted to report that Castlehaven is active on more residential developments around Galway than any other funder. In Limerick, demand is proven and there are some active developments, but more housing is needed.
Is social housing a factor in regional development?
Social housing is a key area for us, just as it is a major issue for the entire country. We’ve already approved funding for almost 600 social housing units across the country and developers continue to approach us with borrowing requirements for new social projects. Our funding model is particularly effective for social housing provision. Once we’ve agreed the initial equity input with the borrower, we can completely fund the working capital requirement. This gives developers the ability to commence jobs quickly with full confidence in their funding lines. At Castlehaven, we offer speed of approval and drawdown that no other providers can come close to matching and we are fully on board with developers, AHB’s, and local authorities in supporting social housing delivery.
Where does Castlehaven fund social housing?
Castlehaven’s existing projects are underway in a range of towns throughout Ireland, as well as the major cities. Wherever there is an exit agreed to a local authority or approved housing body, Castlehaven can bring its fast, effective funding model to support delivery of completed units.
What makes the Castlehaven team especially well-equipped to handle deals across Ireland?
At Castlehaven, we have people on the ground and extensive, ongoing experience in development finance that sets us apart from other lenders. The fact that we’re already funding throughout Ireland—rather than just talking about it—gives us a clear advantage.