Wednesday, March 21, 2012

US firm to buy apartment block in Dublin's Gasworks for €40m - Sunday Business Post

by Sunday Business Post 18.03.12

US investment firm and Bank of Ireland investor Kennedy Wilson has agreed to purchase the Alliance Building in the Gasworks development in Dublin 4 in a deal worth more than €40 million.

The Sunday Business Post has learned that the firm was the highest bidder for the residential investment property, which was developed by Liam Carroll and is one of the most distinctive apartment blocks in the country.

Selling agent Savills was quoting a guide price of €43 million for all 210 apartments in the nine-storey glazed cylindrical block, which is currently producing an annual rent roll of €3.25 million. At that price, the yield on the deal would have been 7.25 per cent.

This newspaper understands that a deal has been done with Kennedy Wilson for about €42 million, just €1 million shy of the asking price. The price works out at an average value of €200,000 per apartment.

Savills confirmed that the building was under offer, but would not disclose any details of the sale. It is believed that contracts on the deal will be exchanged next week.

The Alliance Building, which is adjacent to the Grand Canal Dock scheme, has attracted significant interest from overseas property companies and wealthy investors since it was put up for sale on the instructions of receivers to Liam Carroll's companies last June. It is understood that a number of international investors were underbidders.

It is the latest high-profile commercial property investment in the capital to be acquired by overseas investors.

The sales of two other buildings - One Warrington Place on Mount Street, which is being bought by the British insurer Prudential, and Riverside II on Sir John Rogerson's Quay, which is under offer from a German private investment fund - are expected to be completed in the second quarter of this year.

Kennedy Wilson acquired Bank of Ireland's real estate investment management arm (BOI REIM) in June 2010, and led a group of five investors that bought a 30 per cent stake in the bank last summer.

More recently, Kennedy Wilson and partners from the US and Europe bought a $1.8 billion UK commercial portfolio from Bank of Ireland.

In total, the firm, together with its institutional partners, has acquired around $5.1 billion of real estate and real estate-secured debt through joint ventures and consolidated investments since the beginning of 2010. The estimated value of the assets under the company's management is currently more than $12 billion

Posted via email from quirkeproperty's posterous

Retailers criticise Nama over 'selective' rent review figures - Sunday Business Post

by Sunday Business Post 18.03.12

The National Asset Management Agency (Nama) has been accused of providing selective figures on the rent reductions it has granted to tenants by an organisation representing retailers.

The chief executive of Nama, Brendan McDonagh, and its chairman, Frank Daly, appeared before the Oireachtas finance committee last Wednesday and revealed they had received 150 applications from debtors - and directly from tenants - who have sought rent reviews.

McDonagh said the agency had approved reductions in 120 cases and "is engaging in a further 30 cases".

However, David Fitzsimons of Retail Excellence Ireland said he knew of "dozens" of retailers whose businesses were in distress who had sought rent reductions, and who been rejected by the agency.

"Where are these figures? They said they have had 150 applications, and so far none has been turned down. This is just window dressing. I know of both Irish and international retailers who have sought reductions and were turned down," he said.

Fitzsimons said Nama had looked for store-by-store audits of abridged profit and loss accounts from some retail chains. "These either don't exist, or it's time-consuming and expensive to provide them," he said.

"The non-inclusion of international brands because the company may be doing well in other countries is also a nonsense. That is the opposite of our foreign direct investment policy, because if these businesses fail, the jobs and tax-take go with them."

The Sunday Business Post understands that John Cahill, the managing director of the Campbell Bewley Group, is among the retailers who have approached his landlords [Treasury Holdings] and Nama to request a review of the €1.4 million annual rent it pays for the Bewley's building on Grafton Street.

It is also believed that Cahill has approached a number of Dáil deputies to raise awareness of the matter. A Campbell Bewley spokesman declined to comment.

A Nama spokesman said the agency did not comment on individual debtors or tenants, but that the agency would "encourage tenants with upward-only rent review clauses, who are having difficulty in meeting their rental obligations, to consult the guidance note on the Nama website and prepare a request based on these guidelines".

Posted via email from quirkeproperty's posterous

Daly hints Nama would sell assets back to defaulters -


Sunday March 18 2012

NAMA chairman Frank Daly has strongly indicated that the agency wants permission from the Government to sell assets back to developers who have already defaulted on the repayment of their loans.

"This may not be a very popular thing to say, but for example, the restriction in the [Nama] Act which bars us from selling assets back to a defaulting debtor; that's a restriction that doesn't apply to any other body that's in the same business or in the same space that we are.

"So will that be a problem in the future? I don't know, but it's something we'll have to consider," Mr Daly told the Dail's Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform last Wednesday.

The Nama chairman was responding to a question from Fine Gael TD Liam Twomey in which he asked if Nama had identified any legislative barriers to its work.

While Mr Daly began by saying Nama hadn't identified any need for legislative change at the moment, he went on to outline the disadvantage Nama was at in being prohibited from selling assets back to the defaulting developers on its books.

"We are, I make no bones about it, to a certain extent disadvantaged in relation to other banks or other entities out there who might be in the same business as we are, deleveraging in the property market," he said.

The Nama chairman told the committee his agency would inform the Government if it identified something it considered to be a legislative barrier.

Contacted by the Sunday Independent for additional clarification of Mr Daly's remarks, a spokesman for Nama said: "Other banks are allowing defaulting debtors buy back their properties at today's much reduced prices and NAMA can't do it at present."

Asked by the Sunday Independent for his reaction to the Nama chairman's comments on the potential sale of assets back to developers who had already defaulted on their loans, Fine Gael TD Liam Twomey said: "It's not government policy right now and there would be no appetite from anybody to see developers buying back their property loans at knockdown prices.

"I will certainly be asking has the board of Nama discussed this, and have they been talking about getting the legislation changed so they can do this. It would be very much up to the Government to make that sort of legislative change and there's no desire to do that to the best of my knowledge. But I would like to tease this out with them."

Commenting on Nama's strategy to date, Mr Twomey added: "Are they starting to recognise that they've got serious problems in the future once all the UK, American and European properties are sold off? Will they be left with unsaleable assets which will be another disaster for the taxpayer? Nama is more or less selling all of its best assets. What you're left with is a load of property dross, and maybe the only people who will buy that sort of rubbish are the people who bought it in the first place."

Posted via email from quirkeproperty's posterous

Hints of some movement on the domestic mortgage front -

Sunday March 18 2012

THERE may finally be a revving up of mortgage lending happening. The 'pillar banks' show signs of powering up mortgage lending, industry sources and a reading of data in a recent Central Bank report suggest.

"There's something happening," said broker Frank Conway of Irish Mortgage Corporation, who sees "some nascent signs that a few banks are open to lending", particularly AIB. The disgraced bank may be shedding thousands of staff but it appears to be recruiting home buyers, offering the tastiest rates and deposits at present.

Though Goodbody stockbrokers economist Dermot O'Leary noted recently that home loan credit is "tight" and lending was lower than ever in 2011, he also adds: "I would think it has to improve from there. I think the pillar banks are more proactive in terms of getting out there and trying to do more."

Says another economist source: "We're hearing that new AIB CEO David Duffy has been more dynamic in terms of AIB engaging with brokers and intermediaries and being open for business."

"According to the Central Bank report, the weighted average of the cost of interest on new loans for house purchases was 3.11 per cent in January," Frank Conway said.

But why might that be significant?

Because the best mortgage rate available is a 2.84 per cent deal from AIB, but this is only on offer where the loan-to-value is 50 per cent or less.

"That weighted average rate of 3.11 per cent suggests that AIB is likely to be the major lender in the market and they are doing a fair share of lending where the loan-to-value is 50 per cent or less," he explains.

In other words, not just lending to those with chunky deposits.

Meanwhile Bank of Ireland has set out its stall, declaring it is making a €1.5bn funded play to grab more of the mortgage market this year, and sources report that Government pressure to lend is continuing to be brought to bear on the State-owned banks.

Then PTSB and AIB's tracker mortgage dead weight is expected to get cordoned off within months, potentially leaving both freer to lend more, or at more reasonable rates in PTSB's case.

So that's the goodish news, a little spring flower of hope. You still need to be a seriously good bet to get a mortgage, but at least if you are, you could get a sporting chance.

"AIB and Bank of Ireland are the primary banks lending to first-time buyers," Conway told the Sunday Independent. "Both need to see very strong evidence that applicants are capable of handling a monthly mortgage repayment and the discipline to continue paying it from month-to-month."

You also need to have a full-time job. Apart from regular savings and regular salary, the banks are checking for red flags such as constant current account overdraft or other strains. But they are factoring in overtime and bonuses where they are reflected on a P60.

AIB is lending to a maximum of 92 per cent to first-time buyers and those trading up. Bank of Ireland/ ICS will lend to 90 per cent loan to value.

KBC is lending but only in cases where the loan to value is 80 per cent or less and the buyer has a strong earning profile, and is mainly refinancing deals on existing mortgage business. Ulster Bank is not advertising mortgages hugely and its interest rates are not enticing.

As an attempt at a snapshot of some of what's happening in mortgage lending, we've profiled five recent homebuyers and the criteria that won them mortgages in this still seized-up lending market. Some details have been changed for privacy reasons.

Family relocating

A couple in their late 40s with two young children and a car loan, moving from Wexford to Cork, sold their Wexford home to buy in the rebel city as the husband's job was transferring there. The husband is the sole breadwinner.

They were able to get a €210,000 mortgage on a three-bed semi for 60 per cent loan-to-value. Their original mortgage was with Permanent TSB (PTSB); their new mortgage with Bank of Ireland.

The bank approved the loan as the couple's credit history and mortgage repayment history was good and there was no debt consolidation.

First-time buyers

A young couple, he works in the pharmaceutical sector as a chemical engineer for over four years, she is unemployed. They had a 10 per cent deposit and no car loan or credit card debt. They got a €240,000 mortgage for a three-bed semi with Bank of Ireland's ICS.

Couple where main earner is overseas

A common scenario in this climate. The husband is working in the Middle East, the wife and children are at home.

The husband is the main earner but both are working. He changed jobs within the past 12 months but for employment in the same sector with better earning power.

Their €368,000 mortgage loan to buy a period home with AIB was approved for 92 per cent finance.

The lender was swayed by several years of the husband working in the same sector with a stable job, and an ability to repay even if a reasonable pay cut were to occur.

Middle-aged couple

A couple in their 50s in the midlands had owned their detached home for 15 years and had built up decent equity in their country bungalow. A fixed-rate mortgage with Permanent TSB was coming to an end. Both are full-time employed for six years in a solid sector. They have savings and no other loans.

PTSB wrote to them with options that included a 5.15 per cent standard variable rate mortgage or an 8 per cent five-year fixed rate on their €80,000 mortgage.

KBC offered them a better rate at about 4.5 per cent, based on assessing both incomes.

The well-off trader-uppers

A couple wanted to trade up while keeping their existing property until the market improves. They had a 30 per cent deposit to put in, but didn't need to use it all. They were lucky enough to have lots of repayment capacity. This is classic KBC territory, and the bank approved a mortgage at 20 per cent deposit to loan value for a large €500,000 detached home.

- Roisin Burke

Posted via email from quirkeproperty's posterous

What kind of residential property market do we really want? - The Irish Times - Thu, Mar 15, 2012

There is a lot of talk about the need for a ‘recovery’ of the market, but maybe any real progress will require fundamental reform, writes LORCAN SIRR 

THERE IS MUCH discussion of the desirability of “recovery” in the property market, but there is far less discussion of what recovery really means, and for whom.

Debates surrounding recovery seem to be dominated by mechanisms to get owners out of negative equity and get house prices rising. Yet negative equity is not a problem for everybody whose property is worth less than is owed on it. It is not pleasant, but only a serious problem if the property needs to be sold.

Now is a good time to ask what kind of residential property market we would ideally like to have. There are several factors to consider.

Ireland has traditionally preferred home ownership to renting. In 1991, 81 per cent of the housing stock was owner-occupied, now it is more like 74 per cent, just below Greece and above the UK, and quite near the European average.

Renting is now becoming a preferred option for many and, as such, an ideal residential market would have a balance of tenancy options reflecting this shifting pattern. In other words, perhaps there should be more choices for non-owners in a “recovered” market and more balanced support for owners and non-owners.

This would involve reforming the private rented sector to give greater security of tenure to tenants and also to encourage large-scale professional residential landlords to enter the market to start providing long-term rental accommodation choices.

Another issue to consider is the degree of regulation an ideal market should have. Should there, for example, be a limit on the proportion of a purchase price that a bank can lend to a customer, or a limit on the multiple of earnings it can lend? The UK is currently considering limiting this at 2.5 to 3 times earnings.

If the amount of money that could be borrowed was the same in each institution, then it is more likely that the market would remain relatively stable and institutions would have to find other ways to be competitive.

A thorny issue is whether or not an ideal residential market would have property tax, and if so, based on what? In reality, property taxes are already here, but still in their infancy in terms of the way in which they are generated.

The issue of whether the owner or the occupier should pay it must be addressed. How should it be calculated? Should it be based on value or size or location, or some other measure? Would taxing empty or little-used properties, as is done in Spain, encourage their better use or sale?

In due course, the residential market is going to need more properties, so given issues of who occupiers might be, the question of the type of buildings we construct (and currently destruct) are important.

Recently, we have built small apartments and dull mono-type houses on even duller estates for very homogenous groups of society. Mixed use has come to mean some residential accommodation for couples or small families and a Spar, a bookmakers and a Chinese take-away.

Wouldn’t a recovered residential market also cater for the aged, for example, and for those who want to both live in an apartment and have a family?

The residential market should have something to offer the aged, the renters, the short-term occupiers, those wanting to buy, and those wanting to move

Information is also a key component of a functioning market. The stock market doesn’t operate in an information vacuum. There should be complete access to information on selling prices, dimensions and running costs. A French estate agent’s window will tell you the energy rating of the property and some the annual running costs. Access to information means informed choices and a transparent market.

Conversely, should landlords have access to potential tenants’ income or employment status? In many countries, they don’t.

Recovery is ultimately a far more complex issue than merely seeing purchase prices rise again. We don’t really live in a “free” market – all sorts of state intervention ensure this – so we can easily create a stable framework within which the market can operate.

I would like a market with international norms of vacancy and turnover, with development that caters for all society, bought and sold under careful lending conditions to ensure a large degree of stability and affordability. It can be done.

Perhaps fundamental reform of the residential property market is the real concept we should be discussing.

Dr Lorcan Sirr is a lecturer in urban economics at Dublin Institute of Technology 

Posted via email from quirkeproperty's posterous

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Final fate of buy-to-let investors will be decided by politicians - Irish Times


The banks would like to keep debt forgiveness to a minimum because it’s good banking policy and they are strapped for cash

EVER SINCE Patrick Honohan forced the Government into the open on the bailout in 2010 the Central Bank governor’s every comment tends to be parsed for pearls of wisdom and policy clues.

Last week was no exception with his seemingly routine speech to a student society in Limerick interpreted as a warning to the banks to get serious about sorting out their mortgage books or face having a solution imposed on them by the Government via the new insolvency regime.

The trouble with looking for coded messages to the banks in Honohan’s public utterances is that he does not have to communicate with them in such a fashion. He is the governor of the Central Bank. If he wants to say something to the banks he just calls them in.

There is really only one constituency that Honohan has to play this sort of game with; public opinion. With that in mind the meat of Honohan’s speech would seem to be his exhortation to the banks to throw buy-to-let mortgage holders to the wolves.

His comments should be viewed in the context of a number of decisions that are going to be made over the next six months about the insolvency regime and in particular who will be inside the debt forgiveness tent and who will be outside it.

There is clearly a difference of opinion between the banks and the public on the issue. The banks would like to keep debt forgiveness to a minimum because its good banking policy and they are strapped for cash. Public opinion would by and large favour generous debt forgiveness.

The banks would appear to have lost the first round in this battle following the decision to include secured debts – ie residential mortgages – in the new insolvency regime. The next fight looks like being over buy-to-let mortgages. The new insolvency regime is ambiguous with respect to buy-to-lets and the governor would appear to be trying to draw a line in the sand.

He may well succeed as there is clearly an opportunity to divide and conquer public opinion. Whilst the majority of people – including those with performing mortgages or no mortgage at all – would see some self-interest in residential mortgage forgiveness they may well baulk at letting buy-to-let investors off the hook.

Honohan himself pointed out last week that: “public policy could hardly countenance any debt relief arrangements that in practice discriminated in favour of middle and high income people when so many households – debtors and non-debtors – have had to fall back on social protection payments.”

However, there are more than a few shades of grey here. Not every buy-to-let investor is the same. The individual who bought one overpriced property as a pension is not in the same boat as someone who has 12 buy-to-let apartments. Likewise the young couple who – on the advice of their bank – held on to the first home when the kids came along and they bought the family home.

There is also the whole issue of recourse. There is little to be gained by foreclosing on a buy-to-let mortgage if you then force default on an individual’s residential mortgage on which they will then potentially get debt forgiveness under the new insolvency regime.

Now there appears to be no reliable data that would allow one to even try to estimate what would be the consequences – in terms of forced or strategic defaults on residential mortgages – of foreclosing on buy-to-let. But the Central Bank’s own research shows that 20 per cent of outstanding mortgage debt is owed by small investors.

One can only assume the Central Bank is alive to this and feels it is a risk worth running and no doubt they are influenced by external perceptions and the wider agenda. It does not strengthen your hand when looking for changes to promissory notes and various other measures to hopefully finally sort out the banks if you create the impression that this will result in debt forgiveness for greedy landlords.

Reports from Moody’s saying one in four Irish mortgages could be restructured under the new regime don’t help much either when you are trying to save a banking system.

Thus, from where Honohan sits, buy-to-let borrowers are best left out of debt forgiveness. But it is not his decision. The final shape of the new insolvency regime and the fate of buy-to-let investors will be dictated by politicians and they listen to little other than public opinion. Expect a lot more speeches.

Posted via email from quirkeproperty's posterous

Monday, March 12, 2012

Dunne consents to judgments of €185m - The Irish Times - Sat, Mar 10, 2012

DEVELOPER SEÁN Dunne has consented at the Commercial Court to orders requiring him pay some €185 million to Nama.

The sum arises from loans made to him personally and from his guarantees over other loans to various companies.

Receivers appointed in November over assets of Mr Dunne and the companies had realised some €25,000 up to last month, it was stated in court documents. Any further sums realised would also be applied to the credit of Mr Dunne, Nama said.

Among the assets over which receivers have been appointed are Hume House, Pembroke Road, Dublin; penthouse apartments at Mountbrook, Mount Merrion, Dublin; apartments at Hollybrook, Brighton Road, Foxrock, Dublin; apartments at Gateway Place and Gateway Crescent, Ballymun, Dublin; and properties at North Wall Quay, Dublin and Riverside IV, Grand Canal Docks, Dublin.

On the application of James Doherty, for Nama, and on foot of a written consent from Mr Dunne provided through his lawyers, Mr Justice Peter Kelly yesterday entered summary judgment in the amount of €185,299,627. He also granted Nama liberty to apply to enforce the judgment if necessary.

The judgment sum is made up of about €32 million concerning personal loans to Mr Dunne and guarantees provided by him over other loans.

Mr Dunne was not in court for the brief hearing, and Nama said all documents had been delivered to Merrion Square, Dublin 2, the last address for Mr Dunne notified to the agency. In more recent correspondence, Nama said it had “referenced” an address c/o Greenwich Avenue, Greenwich, Connecticut, US.

The nine separate loan facilities were made by Bank of Ireland, Irish Nationwide Building Society and Allied Irish Banks on dates from 2005 onwards to Mr Dunne personally and various companies.

Mr Dunne provided guarantees related to loans to various Mountbrook Companies, DCD Builders Ltd and Waterside Kilcock property Company Ltd. Nama acquired the loans in July 2010 and initiated the court proceedings after demands for repayment issued in July 2011 last were not met.

Nama made efforts to serve Mr Dunne personally with the proceedings before he was served on December 22nd last, counsel said. That service did not go as planned as Mr Dunne was served with original documents and not copies, but Mr Dunne later returned the originals, he said.

Mr Justice Kelly said he was satisfied to transfer the proceedings to the Commercial Court and to enter summary judgment. He found there was no culpable delay by Nama in bringing the case, and any defect in service had been cured by the entry of an appearance on behalf of Mr Dunne.

In court papers, Nama outlined its dealings with Mr Dunne since July 2010 when it informed him it had acquired his loans and he would have to submit a business plan. Seán Dunne/Mountbrook Group did this in October 2010, and it was reviewed by Nama Portfolio Management and accountants Farrell Grant Sparks.

On December 2nd, 2010, Mr Dunne confirmed details previously provided to Nama over transfers of assets out of the Mountbrook Group, Nama said. On December 8th, 2010, it informed Mr Dunne that while his business plan had been rejected, it would consider supporting the group if Mr Dunne entered discussions on a revised business plan.

Nama said it told Mr Dunne it had to have full details of his asset position and asked him to complete a statement of affairs. A solicitor for Mr Dunne later asked Nama for the basis upon which such information was being sought. Nama replied and a statement of affairs was provided on December 17th, 2010.

In January 2011, Nama looked for more information from Mr Dunne concerning the D4 hotel properties in Ballsbridge and about the asset position of persons connected to Mr Dunne. In February 2011, Nama raised queries about information provided and about press commentary concerning Mr Dunne. Replies to those queries were received.

In March 2011, Nama informed Mr Dunne the revised business plan was not acceptable for reasons outlined and set out the context for its requests about his asset position. Mr Dunne provided additional information concerning the business plan and there was correspondence later concerning lettings and sales of assets within the Mountbrook portfolio over which Nama holds security.

Nama informed Mr Dunne in July 2011 it had decided to issue demands for repayment and that judgment would be sought against him after the appointment of receivers. Demands were issued but were not paid.

Nama said receivers had achieved a large commercial letting of one property, while the sale of two properties had been approved. A receiver had been appointed over a site in Kilcock.

Mr Dunne had on January 4th last written to Nama stating he had no defence to the claim for judgment and did not intend to contest it. After further correspondence, an appearance was entered on behalf of Mr Dunne on February 24th.

Dunne deal on D4 tower saw empire begin to wobble 

SEÁN DUNNE was born in Tullow, Co Carlow, in 1955. He trained as a surveyor before going into property development.

His first major development was St Helen’s Wood in Booterstown in the late 1980s. He went on to develop St Raphael’s Manor in Celbridge, Co Kildare, and Hollybrook in Foxrock.

Overseas properties included a hotel and apartments in South Africa, some of which were bought by Irish investors.

In 2005 Dunne paid €54 million an acre for a Ballsbridge site occupied by the Jury’s and Berkeley Court hotels. He put €125 million of his money into the seven-acre site, and a group of financial institutions, led by Ulster Bank, lent him the balance.A year later, he paid €207 million for blocks at AIB Bankcentre in Ballsbridge.

It is believed that Dunne was also the purchaser of Ireland’s most expensive house in 2005. Walford, on Shrewsbury Road, cost €58 million. While the identity of the buyer was not revealed, the house’s beneficial owner was Dunne’s second wife Gayle Killilea. It was put up for sale in 2010 for €15 million.

He lodged an application with Dublin City Council in 2007 to build a 37-storey tower on the Ballsbridge hotel site.

The plan was rejected in January 2009 by An Bord Pleanála and the hotels were reopened under the D4 brand.

In February 2010, Companies Office documents showed that the banks behind his purchase of the property had taken a majority stake in it. But it is understood that the deal was structured in such a way that Dunne retained an interest in the properties, equivalent to 30 per cent.

That July Nama appointed receivers to various properties owned by Dunne.

He also ran into trouble in the US when planners took issue with his house renovation.

Last September, Dunne got permission to redevelop the Ballsbridge hotels but said it would be at least five years before work started.

In January, the syndicate of banks that lent money to Dunne to buy the hotels settled court proceedings to get possession of those properties. The syndicate argued he owed them more than €259 million. JOANNE HUNT

Posted via email from quirkeproperty's posterous

Property - Property & Construction News - BoI seizes shopping centres

Bank of Ireland has seized control of four related provincial shopping centres in an effort to shore an exposure of more than €100 million.

The bank has installed receivers over Monaghan Town Shopping Centre, Sligo Retail Park and Letterkenny Retail Park in Co Donegal. A receiver has also been installed over Tullamore Retail in Co Offaly.

The shopping centres are owned by a consortium of businessmen that includes William Moffett, Pat Doherty and Anson Logue. Bank of Ireland has advanced more than €100 million to fund the developments, but has become increasingly concerned about its exposure.

Kieran Wallace and Patrick Horkan, accountants with MPNMG accountants, have been installed as receivers

I traveled in one of the developer's helicopter to see Sligo Retail Park once during the boom. I was acting for a large Furniture chain (now in liquidation!). There was "no room" for us in the park...

Posted via email from quirkeproperty's posterous

Property - Property & Construction News - Auctioneer urges definitive action on ghost estates

Ghost estates need to be completed or demolished before any meaningful recovery can occur in the property market, according to a leading estate agent.

James Nugent, managing director of Lisney, said the future of the market also hinged on improvements in policy and planning

"Until such time as the ghost estates issues is resolved, we won't be able to move on," he said. "Some estates may need to be demolished, while others may eventually be finished or used for social purposes. But this will depend on how much of the construction is complete, and the location and the quality of the estates."

Nugent said cooperation from financial institutions was required to tackle the issue, especially in rural areas where there may be two or three ghost estates in one village or small town. "What is viable must be supported, what isn't should be knocked down, and the burden should be shared across the banks and developers. Some adult conversation must be had," he said.

Nugent was speaking at a Lisney seminar which took place last Friday in conjunction with the Downey Hynes Partnership. Another speaker, John O'Connor of the Housing Agency, agreed with Nugent.

"We need to finish off any housing that's nearly complete and either sell it or rent it," he said.

William Hynes, director of the Downey Hynes Partnership, said a major move needed to be made away from conventional planning to evidence-based planning. He said the planning process was not sufficiently evidence-based at present, and that it was critical for the future of the market that it was.

"Planning needs to founded on realistic assessments of projected future growth or decline," he said. "We need to target development and investment in specific areas. The focus must be on job creation and innovation."

Austin Hughes, chief economist with KBC, said one of the main issues during the boom was that attention was not paid to the quality or location of housing stock. "We need to ensure the right policy and planning are there to ensure it doesn't happen again," he said. He said the economic environment would remain "tricky" and "fragile", and said he could not see the Greek situation improving soon.

"There are tentative signs in the employment figures and other indicators that change is on the way, but it will remain fragile for the next three to four years at least," he said.

The economist predicted that, five years from now, credit would still not be freely available. Hughes said KBC's latest figures showed property purchase sentiment was worse than overall consumer sentiment.

"People are very nervous about property at the moment. Our findings are much more gloomy than [a recent study from] There is continued uncertainty about jobs and financing, but having said that, the major correction in house prices has happened," he said.

Posted via email from quirkeproperty's posterous