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Irish Real Estate: This Could Be the Time

He adds that people with at least one Irish grandparent can qualify for Irish citizenship, which conveys access to free health care and other social benefits.

The Irish government is also trying to entice foreign buyers by offering a seven-year window to invest tax free in Ireland's real estate. Anyone who buys Irish property between now and Dec. 31, 2013, can sell their holdings within seven years and skip the usual 30% capital gains tax.

Ireland also has no property tax right now, although the cash-strapped government plans to soon inaugurate one. Additionally, homebuyers have to pay 1% of a property's purchase price as a "stamp duty," while foreign and domestic landlords typically owe Irish income taxes on any profits.

On the upside, foreign investors who think the luck of Irish is on their side have lots of available properties to choose from.

At Henry's company, current listings range from a three-bedroom Dublin house available for 310,000 euros ($407,000) to a 40-acre Tipperary estate priced at 650,000 euros ($859,000).

McMahon says would-be buyers should also consider bidding at so-called "fire-sale auctions," where large blocks of distressed Irish properties go under the gavel at steep discounts.

The expert, whose Web site scours the globe for real-estate investing opportunities, doesn't think Irish home prices have hit bottom. But he still believes investors should at least check Irish real estate out.

"Cost of living is high here and the weather can be dreary," McMahon admits. "But for the first time in over a decade, Ireland is on the agenda for our coverage ."

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