By Majella Loftus
A Ballinrobe-based auctioneer who set up in the teeth of the property downturn in 2010 is confident that the industry will survive the Covid-19 crisis.
Emma Gill, who is a member of the Property Partners Real Estate Group, began in business a decade ago in her home town of Ballinrobe with just one employee. She now employs five staff after opening a second office in Clarinbridge in Co Galway in 2016.
When the first cases of coronavirus were reported in Ireland, Emma initially believed the property market was heading for another massive crash but she has since become more optimistic.
“I thought every sale agreed would turn from contracts being signed in a few weeks to being returned unsigned. But only one sale fell through in the early weeks of March. In fact over that time, we went sale-agreed on two further properties,” she said.
There is optimism among auctioneers and solicitors that the property industry in Ireland is more robust than it was in 2008 when the last global economic recession struck.
“Before the virus, our networking groups among auctioneers all reported problems in getting sales instructions, not selling them. This is very different to 10 years ago where we had a lot of repossessions and the recession drove the price of property down.”
Ms Gill says that during the recession, people were withdrawing their sales due to falling prices.
“Right now, there is no price decrease; people are still selling their houses,” she said.
Three weeks ago, Emma had a thriving business but was forced to lay off five people in the short term.
“I have a great staff and even laying them off for a while is tough but, hopefully, we will be back soon.
“We have to press the pause button for a while; we will have no viewings. There won’t be a surge when all this is lifted but it won’t be as bad as before,” she said. “People will still go ahead with selling their property. If you are renting a house and want the security of your own home, you will still buy.”