Social distancing during a pandemic is not really a problem if you have your own private island to escape from.
The sale of an island off the south coast of Ireland has attracted interest “from all corners of the globe,” according to agents who helped secure the deal.
Horse Island, which had an asking price of € 5.5million (just over £ 5million), was picked up by a mystery shopper.
Sales agents were contacted by buyer’s representatives just as Ireland’s Covid-19 lockdown began.
The secluded retreat by the Atlantic Ocean has all the potential to provide self-sufficient shelter for the super rich during a pandemic.
The 157-acre island off the coast of County Cork comes with its own power grid, water treatment system, private jetty and helicopter landing pad.
The buyer was not the only one to buy a private island during the pandemic.
The coronavirus outbreak appears to have sparked international interest in this niche market, according to German businessman Farhad Vladi, who has worked in the trade for more than 50 years.
“Right now there is a strong demand for self-sufficient private islands,” he told BBC News NI.
Mr. Vladi is the founder and chairman of Vladi Private Islands, which has sold over 3,500 private islands around the world since its inception in 1969.
“People are looking for the option of staying longer on their island, especially in the midst of a pandemic, so being self-sufficient would be a must,” he said.
“As the owner of your own island, you control what you see and there is no risk of the virus reaching the island. This seems to be the reason for the new demand for these islands. “
“Ultra high net worth buyer”
Horse Island is located in Roaringwater Bay, the most southerly bay in Ireland, but a short distance from the Cork coast.
The new owner may not have any neighbors to meet when he moves in, but he has a choice of seven houses and a large wine cellar to stock up on.
Staying in shape in splendid seclusion won’t be a problem either as there are three beaches, tennis courts, a gym and a games room.
“Horse Island has been fully redeveloped with self-sufficiency in mind,” said vendors’ agents, describing it as “fully self-sufficient.”
The sale was negotiated by phone and email rather than face-to-face during the lockout, according to joint sales agents, Colliers International.
In fact, it is believed that the buyer made the purchase without even setting foot on Horse Island.
His identity has not been made public, but he has been described by sales agents as a “very wealthy European buyer”.
“The ideal Ireland”
The man started shopping on the island in December 2019, asking a London-based real estate broker to find a suitable location.
Horse Island was on the market in 2018 with an asking price of 6.75 million euros (6.1 million pounds), but it was reduced to 5.5 million euros in February of this year.
The sale drew inquiries from the United States, Asia, Europe and the United Kingdom, but it came down to two bidders.
Callum Bain, Senior Surveyor at Colliers International, helped secure the sale on behalf of the sellers.
He told BBC News NI that the successful bidder first inquired about Horse Island just as the lockdown began.
When asked if the pandemic influenced the sale, Mr Bain said he did not know the buyer and therefore could not comment on the reasons for the purchase other than a public statement from the buyer’s agent indicating that his client intended to use the island as a “private residence”.
However, Mr Bain said in general terms that he believed Ireland was ideally placed for those looking to protect themselves from the pandemic.
“If you want to isolate yourself, or if you have an obligation to isolate yourself, I think Ireland is in a brilliant position,” he said.
“We’re on the western border of Europe, but we have a good relationship, if we want to. ”
Mr Bain has done private island sales in the past, but said this type of transaction is relatively rare as they don’t come to market very often.
“People like to keep them,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Vladi made his first sale in 1971, and since then he has sold islands ranging from $ 35 million (28 million pounds) to more modest $ 50,000 (40,000 pounds).
According to him, for an island to be considered self-sufficient, it must have good agricultural potential, allowing owners to grow their own vegetables and raise animals there.
Although sales inquiries were solid in his business during the pandemic, actual transactions were affected by international blockages and quarantine rules.
Vladi said that “due to worldwide travel restrictions, many people cannot inspect these islands before deciding to buy.”
However, he thinks it is only a matter of time before the restrictions are eased and the visits start again.