THE head of the agency in charge of completing the State's 2,000 ghost estates has sharply criticised banks for "stupidly" refusing to sell houses to local authorities.
Chief executive of the Housing Agency, John O'Connor, told the Irish Planning Institute's annual conference that instead of selling the homes at reasonable prices, banks preferred to hold the properties as assets on their books.
In one case, a local authority had offered €140,000 for homes in one ghost estate, which was refused by the unnamed bank. A second some months later was also refused, even though the homes were unoccupied and deteriorating.
"There's no point in leaving housing idle," Mr O'Connor said. "One local authority offered to buy a number of unfinished houses to complete a development, but the bank wouldn't agree to the price being offered.
"Six months later the local authority went back, and offered €100,000 per house and the bank wouldn't sell. It's very stupid to have an asset lying there."
His comments were echoed by Declan Taite, a receiver with RSM Farrell Grant Sparks, who said there was often a "huge difference" in the prices people were willing to pay, and amount banks were willing to accept.
This was because accepting a lower price would impact on the bank's balance sheet.
The latest figures show there are 2,066 unfinished developments across the country, made up of almost 37,000 units, of which 18,638 are complete but vacant.
Chris McGarry, planning and development advisor with State bad-bank NAMA, said it controlled about 12pc of all unfinished estates, about 250.
Some 28 needed urgent works, and 15 had been dealt with and work was due to start shortly on the remaining 13.
Mr McGarry said that most of its property portfolio was based in the Greater Dublin Area, meaning it was likely to be developed in the medium-term.
Monday, April 30, 2012
Banks taken to task for refusing to sell homes in ghost estates - Irish, Business - Independent.ie