Thursday, April 30, 2009

Spring has sprung, but what follows?

All around us, Nature is bursting out. Leaves are appearing from buds as Spring makes it mark.
Although many dispute the months of Spring, arguing for February, March and April, over March, April and May and vice versa, I do not think that the seasons are confined to a strict Calendar. They take it as it comes.

In the US, Obama says they are seeing the first “green shoots” of a recovery in the economy.
We are in the midst of what economists are calling the toughest recession to hit any country since the Great Depression(I kid you not!), but, unbelievable as it may seem to us from these depths, the housing market in the States has bottomed out and by all accounts, is actually recovering!
Prices there are not rising, but homes are selling faster, with more competition for the better homes.
The reasons for this are many, but one is that vendors have realised that to sell a house, it has to be marked down to about 60% of its peak value... or less.
Banks there are keener to lend to home buyers.
They see it as a method of spreading the risk.
They can have one big loan with a builder/developer, who cannot service it due to lack of buyers with finance.
Or, they can give mortgages to buyers, who are more likely to be able to service the debt, even if a small proportion of them fail!
Of course, the position regarding defaulting on loans in the States is different to here.
There, you can hand the keys back to the bank and other than a black mark against your credit rating that is the end of the matter.
There, the loan is non-recourse, guaranteed only by the property against which it is held.
Here, if your home is repossessed, the bank will sell it for what they can, but the balance of the debt will live with you as long as you do not pay it off.
It seems contradictory therefore, that now that the manure has hit the fan, the banks are looking for assistance from the Government (i.e. us taxpayers) in an effort to write down their debt, make it non-recourse.
That same courtesy will not be afforded to the unfortunates who lose a job and cannot service their mortgage.
Bad enough we had to guarantee all deposits, now they want us to buy all the bad debt from them!
No mention of paying back all the bonuses that were paid out while amassing all that bad debt.
Historically, Ireland followed America’s lead.
Whatever happened there usually happened here a few years later.
This time, we followed their descent into the mire within weeks.
If the housing market continues to improve Stateside, does anyone really think that things will improve here in the short-term?
Not without freeing up of credit, which our Government and banks between them have not all.
Not without total reform of the banking system. Maybe some of them have to fail?
Not without some at the top of that system being held responsible for their negligence and greed.
Not without some new thinking about this country and economy.
Maybe, not without a change of Government?
Local elections take place on the 5th of June.
This is not a time for apathy.
Usually local elections have little effect on the national arena.
This time might be different.
Things are on a knife-edge.
The smallest thing could have huge implications.
What do you want for this country? Think about it.
Ask questions when you are canvassed.
Then whatever your view, vote!
This time, it might matter.
We need to ensure that the people remain in control of the situation.
Not some cabal of faceless bankers, bureaucrats and politicians.
This is too serious.
With deference to the season, “Hope springs eternal.”

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Just so you know...

As we are now talking in trillions, (of US debt), many people do not have a perspective on the potential €90billion exposure to dodgy property loans, or the €450billion in exposure of the Bank Guarantee that this Government has gotten us all into.

Just so you know, there is an enormous difference between millions and billions.

To put it in time terms:

A million seconds is about 10 days. A billion seconds is over 30 years!

€90billion or worse still, €450billion is huge.

NAMA and the banks

I have read a lot of good and bad press regarding NAMA, the asset management agency being set up by the Government to buy the development-fuelled debt from the banks. David McWilliams has a great post on the subject.
I am not sure that it is a good idea for the country to take on a potential €90billion exposure at this time, on top of the multi-billion debt that we already have.
A primary law of nature is "cause and effect." What consequences have there been for the bankers who made the crazy lending decisions and the civil servants who allowed those decisions that got us into this mess?
They are still in jobs, still drawing down bonuses, or have retired "gracefully" with huge handouts. There has not been any major reprimand or action taken against them.
Those of us in the private sector are experiencing a severe recession. Lay-offs, reduced working hours, lower wages and cut-backs in all perks are the norm for the vast majority of us. Civil servants have the pension levy, but to date, a guaranteed job and pension. Bankers have not had to pay a pension levy and still appear to have a guaranteed job and pension.
As David McWilliams asks, "Who is running the country?"
Doesn't make sense to me!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Clonmel Coffee

I am going to attend the Clonmel Coffee Morning meetings. It is a type of networking event (I think?), the first of which will take place on Thursday next, April 23, 2009 from 10:00 am to 11:00 am at Clonmel Park Hotel in The Poppyfields, Clonmel.
I found out about it via Twitter, which I am experimenting with at present to see if it is useful for business.

It is hoped to gather a group of people to discuss technology and numerous other topics over Coffee. The main topics to be covered -
Brief introduction, who you are, what you do (what you would like to learn, share or gain)
How Clonmel Coffee can grow, what it should become.
Connecting the community via technology projects, social networking, creating a better Clonmel.
Why attend Clonmel Coffee, what can we do for you.
Anything else that comes to mind on the day.

If you are interested in attending (I certainly am), then log on to and register your interest.
Or just turn up. We will be in the bar...drinking coffee!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

March Viewing and Offer Figures

The impending mini-budget hit confidence in the property sector last month. Viewings and offers were down on the corresponding period last year.
They are also down on February, again due to uncertainty...I hope!

Here they are:
March 2008: Viewings 110 Offers 41
March 2009: Viewings 84 Offers 25

Houses are still getting sold, but at reduced levels and reduced prices.

Even with reduced interest rates, buyers were cautious, as the forecasts were for property taxes, changes to mortgage interest relief etc.
Now that we know there is no property tax, for now, and we know the extent of the changes to mortgage interest relief, buyers are back in the market.
Viewing levels for the month of April to date are up. It will be interesting to see if this is maintained for the whole month.
I will post those figures at the start of next month.

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Junction festival launch

Clonmel Junction Festival was launched in Hearn's Hotel last Thursday. The event was attended by more than 170 patrons, who got the details of the upcoming festival, which runs from July 4th to 12th.

Clonmel Chamber President, Tina Mulhearne, spoke at the launch about the magnificent work the festival does with children. She praised the work of the Participation Programme in local primary schools, which brings more than 300 children into contact with professional artists, producing a vibrant display of artistic installations, which will decorate the town during June and July.

Junction Festival has an extensive list of sponsors and patrons. Contributions come from all sectors of the business community and from individuals keen to support the event.

Festival Director David Teevan, who has worked unstintingly to develop the Junction Festival, said that the festival was now the envy of other festivals for the strong support it received from the local community. He said the programme for this year’s festival was nearly complete and work will begin soon on marketing and promoting the event.
“This will include a new web design, which we are very happy with, and several new initiatives to bring more visitors to the town during the week of the festival,” he said.“In addition to a full programme of theatre and music this year’s festival has several innovative projects which we believe will generate a lot of excitement”.
Regular updates on the festival will be posted on

Friday, April 3, 2009

Progress for Gaelscoil Cluain Meala?

The long-running saga regarding Gaelscoil Cluain Meala moved to another phase recently, when the plan for the HSE lands north of the bypass, just off the Heywood Road was unveiled.

The Urban Framework Plan will provide a three acre site for the Gaelscoil, which has been engaged in a fifteen year search to identify a site for a new school.The councillors were told that the County Council plan provides for the transfer of some schools, both secondary and primary from Clonmel town centre to the lands. It is also intended to provide sporting and recreational facilities which could include a 12,000 capacity sports ground (!) and to provide space for expansion of the industries located in the area.Councillors said that while it was always the intention of South Tipperary County Council to make a site available within the HSE land bank, this proposed site does not require any internal road network within the lands and thus can be built on immediately.

The Gaelscoil has operated for the last 15 years in the old council offices in Irishtown. It is now an issue as to whether the Gaelscoil can get on the Department Of Education’s School building programme. This has been a controversial issue for some time now, with management and parents at the school being very vocal in their calls for a new school. There were ugly scenes at a demonstration in Clonmel during a visit by the last Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern to the town, when management, parents and children were accused of unseemly behaviour and of orchestrating a near-riot!The plan could offer exciting options to other schools and sporting clubs based in or near the town centre. As part of an overall strategy for the town centre, it might make sense to move other schools such as The Sisters of Charity and St Marys to this site. If a sporting club were to locate there also, the potential for sharing facilities would be huge. I hope that South Tipperary County Council will explore this further. It would be of enormous benefit to the schools and the clubs themselves and would facilitate the further development of the town centre as two of the above-mentioned are centrally located and would provide much-needed parking and other development opportunities for the heart of the town.

Treasa Nic Dhiarmada, Gaelscoil Principal, has been very outspoken about the lack of progress. She said that while the site may have been identified they are still no closer to actually getting a site, as the lands have not yet been formally purchased by the County Council from the HSE. This was confirmed by a spokesman for the County Council who stated that the legal transfer of the land has not yet been completed.

So maybe this saga is coming to an end...or maybe not? Nil fhios agam!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Practice, practice, practice.

In his most recent book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell explains the “10,000 hour rule.”
This rule states that to become expert at anything, one simply needs to put in 10,000 hours practicing it.

The 10,000 figure comes from the research of Anders Ericsson, who in the early 1990’s studied violinists at the Berlin Academy of Music.“The curious thing about Ericsson’s study is that he and his colleagues couldn’t find any ‘naturals’ - musicians who could float effortlessly to the top while practising a fraction of the time that their peers did,” writes Gladwell. “Nor could they find ‘grinds’, people who worked harder than everyone else and yet just didn’t have what it takes to break into the top ranks. Their research suggested that once you have enough ability to get into a top music school, the thing that distinguishes one performer from another is how hard he or she works.
That’s it.
What’s more, the people at the very top don’t just work much harder than everyone else.
They work much, much harder.”

Some agents cling to the belief that success is down to luck – getting a property sold is possible if you are in the right place at the right time. Very few homeowners think that.
Movie mogul Sam Goldwyn said “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”

So even if you believe in the primacy of natural talent, or luck, attitudes are changing. Hard workers are to the fore again and will succeed where others fail.

According to a satisfied client, P F Quirke & Co. is the “hardest-working agency in South Tipperary”.
We have a lot more than 10,000 hours experience!
If you are a homeowner wishing to sell, call us today.

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