Belfast Telegraph

House bargains at fire sale auction

A house went for as little as 30,000 euro in a fire sale auction widely touted to set a new floor for Ireland's plummeting property market.

The semi-detached three-bedroom home in the Midlands was snapped up in an auction where investors forked out some 15 million euro on 80 properties.

The sale of distressed properties in the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin - the first of its kind in the country - had to be suspended for more than 10 minutes as 200 people trying to get in blocked the road outside.

Another 1,000 were crammed in the auction hall, overflow room and bar, with some 300 punters watching it live on screens in Doheny and Nesbitts pub nearby.

"This is as good as being at a play, it's as good as the Abbey Theatre," said one keen buyer.

The sale, by UK auction house Allsop and its Dublin affiliate Space, was expected to signal a benchmark for Irish house prices - which have dropped by about 50% from a 2007 peak.

Despite the frenzy and excitement, bidding started slowly until experienced auctioneer Gary Murphy began coaxing buyers to part with their cash from his favourite rostrum, which also travelled from the UK. Competition was also tight from ex-pats and people calling from as far away as Israel, Japan and Australia.

Declan O'Connor, an investor and dealer from Sligo, also bought lot 60 - an apartment in Galway city centre - for just 1,000 euro under the reserve price of 70,000 euro.

"Some people are saying we are absolutely daft," he said. "We're fed up with the recession. It's four years now. I'm a dealer and I want to deal, I get my kicks this way."

Among the hundreds of onlookers were dozens of budding buyers armed with cheque books and ID who were after one of the commercial and residential properties on offer, most of which are in receivership.

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