News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Tuesday 7th June 2016

Average age of first time buyers in Ireland rises to 34

Buyers in their 20’s and early 30’s absent from the market for properties over €160k


The average age of first-time buyers in Ireland has risen by five years to 34 over the past decade, according to Real Estate Alliance (REA).

In 2006 the average first-time buyer in Ireland was approximately 29 years old, according REA, but this figure has since increased by 17% cent and is still rising.

The estate agency group said agents around Ireland are reporting that first-time buyers in their twenties and early thirties are now mainly absent from the market for properties priced over €160,000.

“A definite two-tier system has emerged over the past year nationwide, with €160,000 emerging as the breaking point for interest from buyers in that age group – ruling out most properties in Dublin,” REA chairman Michael O’Connor said.

Mr O’Connor said the introduction of the Central Bank’s requirements, combined with higher rents, has made it increasingly difficult for young people to save deposits, especially in Dublin.

“House ownership is now off the table for many couples earning average salaries, with their only hope of purchase now coming from an injection of outside help, usually from close relatives.”

He said a couple on a combined average industrial wage income of €74,000 can borrow 3.5 times their income, making a total of €259,000.

“From a Dublin price perspective, the rules don’t make sense, with the combination of the deposit rates and the multiplier falling far short of our average three-bed semi price in Dublin city and county of €334,000.”

The group said another huge factor in the first-time buyer market has been the recent strength of buyers from outside Ireland who have been typically living and working here for over a decade now putting down roots and buying houses.

“In areas such as Carlow, REA agents are reporting that 30 per cent of first-time buyers are now from Eastern Europe, a percentage that has grown rapidly over the past two years,” said Mr O’Connor.

With some flair & a push, Ireland can attract the prized Chinese tourists this year?


When it comes to attracting the prized Chinese tourist, the task is complex and the potential is really huge.

Up to 140m Chinese are predicted to travel overseas in 2016, spending upwards of €300bn, marking a 15% upward spike from 2015. By 2020, it is expected that 235m Chinese tourists will splurge €400bn across the globe.

With travel enshrined as the preferred activity for the burgeoning Chinese middle class, Europe figures prominently on their overseas wish list.

France is a consistent top choice for this new breed of traveller, attracted by its cultural romance, vintage wines and luxury fashion labels. Despite the terrorist attacks, Paris and other historic sites welcomed over 2m Chinese last year, a growth of over 50%.

Two weeks ago, Tourism Ireland led its largest ever sales mission to China in a bid to increase our share of this rapidly growing market.

Ireland attracted 45,000 Chinese visitors in 2015 — a figure expected to grow by 10% annually to 2020.

The Tourism Ireland delegation was joined by a number of key agencies – including the Dublin Airport Authority, exploring the possibility of direct flights from China to Ireland.

Last year, Shi Boli, general manager of Beijing Airport, indicated that a Dublin route was on his radar, in tandem with an additional direct service to Manchester.

Irish visa offices continue to highlight the British-Irish Visa Scheme, which enables leisure and business travellers from China to visit Ireland and the UK on a single visa.

Tourism Ireland has offices in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, and Chengdu. The organisation’s activity in China involves establishing and building relationships with influential intermediaries, such as the travel trade, airlines and media — highlighting Ireland’s natural attractions, cities, castles, and proximity to Britain.

The sales mission included representatives from Guinness Storehouse, Kildare Village, Manor House & Irish Country Hotels, National Trust Giant’s Causeway, The Merrion Hotel, and Titanic Belfast.

“Our sales mission is to win a greater share of the 4m Chinese visitors who travel to Europe each year,” says Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland. “We are committed to growing Chinese visitors to Ireland to 50,000 per year by 2017, and our sales mission will play a significant role in helping us achieve this target.”

Ireland has featured prominently in the Chinese news spotlight recently, following the visit last year of Chinese premier Li Keqiang to the west of Ireland, and the state visit of China’s president, Xi Jinping, in 2012.

An episode of a popular reality TV show, Exploration of the World, recently aired to more than 6m viewers as it tracked eight Chinese celebrities attempting to master hurling, Gaelic football, and handball.

The celebrities also took on the challenge of learning Irish dancing and traditional music.

China Central Television, the predominant state broadcaster, also visited Ireland in 2015, filming a documentary entitled Glamorous Ireland, highlighting the scenic landscape, arts and crafts and family life, for an audience of over 100m Chinese around the world.

Opening to the theme music of Riverdance, Ireland was described as a “dream destination” and one of “Europe’s most popular places to live”.

The week-long shoot around Dublin, Wicklow, Cork, and Clare featured a tour of Dublin Castle, scenes from President Michael D Higgins’s inauguration, the Guinness Storehouse, and a visit to the Museum of Irish Whiskey.

The warmth and sincerity of the Irish people hits a very positive note with Chinese visitors, says Fiona O’Sullivan of Custom Ireland, which organises tailor-made travel itineraries.

“Despite the language difficulties, Chinese visitors clearly love interacting with Irish people on every level,” she says. “They feel a genuine connection and are very happy and comfortable with Irish people. The welcome and the scenery are, without a doubt, amongst the top things they love.”

Paula Cogan, director of sales and marketing at Cork’s River Lee Hotel, says Chinese guests expect a very high level of service in hotels and are not afraid to voice their criticism.

“They like genuine Chinese food as part of the menu and appreciate it when items such as green tea, slippers, bath robes, and toothpaste are provided,” says Ms Cogan. “They would be mid price spenders when it comes to accommodation, and they expect value for money. ”

Along with golf and historic sites, Chinese visitors are keen shoppers — with the emphasis on brand name goods.

“They love to shop, specifically for luxury goods,” says Ms Cogan. “In many countries, like Switzerland, hotels and retailers work together, and some shops will subsidise accommodation costs just to get Chinese visitors to spend on luxury goods.”

A 3.8% growth in Irish retail grocery market, SuperValu retains largest share

The ever increasing competition among the main grocery retailers sees shoppers visiting stores more often


The Irish retail grocery market has grown by 3.8% in the last year, while SuperValu retains the largest share of any supermarket.

New figures from Kantar Worldpanel – covering the 12 weeks up to 24 April – show increasing competition among the main grocery retailers as shoppers are visiting stores more often.

In the three months to the end of April the average household made 63 separate trips for grocery items, an additional four trips compared with the same time in 2015.

Kantar Worldpanel said this trend is linked to a reduction in the overall size of the average grocery trip which has dropped from €22.40 last year to €21.60 so far in 2016.

Meanwhile, SuperValu remains the largest supermarket in Ireland, with a 23% share of the market after recording a year-on-year sales increase of 2.8%.

Commenting on SuperValu’s growth, Director at Kantar Worldpanel David Berry said: “Most recently the retailer has launched its ‘Good Food Karma’ campaign, which aims to inspire the general public to cook from scratch using fresh ingredients.

“The retailer saw strong growth across fresh staples in the past 12 weeks as a result: sales of fruit, vegetables, meat and poultry all saw healthy increases.”

Tesco is in second place, with the retailer’s share of the market standing at 22.2%.

Tesco has managed to sell more items so far this year but at a lower average price point – investing in low prices in a bid to win back customers.

This has led to a dip in the value of sales of 0.7%, however, volume sales have remained more positive, increasing by 2.7%.

Dunnes Stores has continued its recent strong performance, with sales growth of 8% helping it to a market share of 21.5% (third place).

Mr Berry said “bigger trips have been the main driver of this growth, with an additional €2.50 spent each time the tills ring compared with the same time last year”.

The retailer’s ongoing ‘Shop and Save’ campaign – where it incentivises shoppers to spend more each visit in return for money off next time – is attributed as a main driver of this growth.

According to Kantar World Panel, Lidl has maintained its position as the fastest growing retailer with an additional 43,000 shoppers visiting the grocer in the 12 weeks to 24 April.

Lidl’s market share now stands at 11.2%, while Aldi has seen growth of 1% to bring its market share in Ireland to 10.9%.

Fish can recognise human faces, a research now shows

Archerfish (below pic) are able to identify faces they have seen before, according to new study


A study from Oxford University finds that archerfish can learn to recognise human faces.

Fish do not get much credit for memory skills, but new research shows they can learn to recognise human faces.

Far from having a three-second memory, the study found that tropical archerfish were able to pick out a face they had seen before from a group of 45 faces.

Researchers from Oxford University and the University of Queensland trained their fish to recognise one human face, and then tested them by putting that face in a group with 44 new faces.

Archerfish are so named because they spit streams of water to knock bugs out of the sky.

The researchers used this novel trick and trained the fish to spit water at the face they recognised and disregard all others in the group.

Although this sounds like a fishy tale, it was no fluke. The fish managed to get the right face more than 80 per cent of the time.

When the job was made more challenging, with the faces standardised for brightness and colour, the fish did even better, with 86 per cent accuracy.

Being able to recognise faces “is a surprisingly difficult task”, mainly because we must all look the same to a fish, said Dr Cait Newport of the department of zoology at Oxford University.

The assumption has always been that only primates with their large complex brains could accomplish such a thing, she said.

Humans even have a special section of the brain, the neocortex, given over to the recognition of faces, which fish do not have.


The researchers published their findings on Tuesday in the journal Scientific Reports.

They positioned a camera underneath a clear-glass aquarium so that viewers could watch as their fish learned to recognise a face and then chose it again and again even when other faces were shown.

The proof was in the spitting.

“In all cases the fish continued to spit at the face they had been trained to recognise, proving that they were capable of telling the two apart,” Dr Newport said.

The experiments show you do not need a neocortex to recognise a face, the researchers said.

The research suggests there are probably plenty of fish in the sea with similar visual skills.


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