Before I start today, just a quick mention that Property District has been announced as a corporate finalist (Marketing & Communications) in the V by Very Blog Awards for 2017 and this is simply because so many of you kind folks read it every week so thank you. As the first Communications & PR firm in Ireland servicing the planning, construction and property industries, we have a genuine passion for creating and sharing the very best industry content so it is great to see such a niche, boutique and – let’s face it, tiny – firm being recognised for excellence. Thank you for your support (and patience with typos at the weekend when substance becomes more important than form!).
Now, back to business, here’s a quick round-up of the industry news you might have missed this week:
Many of the main property/construction stories are replicated across the three broadsheets so it really doesn’t matter which newspaper you pick up today – the Sunday Business Post probably has the edge today but mainly due to Karl Deeter’s column.
Open letter to the Minister for Housing
The Sunday Business Post carries an open letter to the minister from Karl Deeter of Irish Mortgage Brokers ( and wonderful co-author of the Irish Property Buyers Handbooks!) with the headline ‘We don’t have to gnaw through our own limbs to escape housing trap.’ And, of course, he is right. He starts off by referring to the housing portfolio as “impossible” and suggests that the best a minister can do is not make things worse (I wouldn’t go that far, I believe it presents a web of solvable problems, that must first be untangled before each can be addressed) Karl makes a crucial point, and one that brings home the danger of a political approach to housing rather than an industry-led approach, that it “summits, PR, spin, ‘plans’, plans of plans and meetings all have one thing in common: they are not the equivalent of construction.” And this is the very crux of the matter – busyness without actually achieving something might work in politics but it will not deliver much-needed homes this year. In this piece, Karl goes on to suggest a relatively simple solution, that is, relaxed planning for infill and mews sites (great idea for mews, infill rurally might be more complex) and then extend the ‘rent a room’ to these properties. By doing this, you enable/incentive the homeowner to earn up to €14,000 per year tax free (I suggest ditching the terminology dance and revisit tax obligations of accidental and on-off landlords – perhaps allow the earnings to be used instead of the compulsory pension contributions that we all know are coming down the line…).
Once again, I must point out that industry really is no place for politicians. Speaking of weak policy-making…
The Help-to-Buy debate rages on
Barry Feenan, Associate Director of Knight Frank (New Homes) writes that ‘Scrapping Help-to-Buy is fraught with risk’. He is referring to the looming threat to this scheme under Budget 2018, and the matter appears far from settled. This particular scheme has certainly had its fair share of detractors (me included), however, it’ s in and now we must allow those who have depended upon it the certainty that it will remain for as long as planned. The only thing worse for the market than a flawed initiative is uncertainty and inconsistency. The main problem with the Help-to-Buy scheme is that it was essentially mis-packaged and then mis-sold as a buyers’ initiative, when it fact it is a very necessary developers’ initiative. It must be retained or replaced with another incentive for developers to actually build homes, however distasteful or politically unpopular that might sound.
IamSold Leinster property auction takes place on Thursday, September 28th at the Clarion Hotel, Liffey Valley in Dublin from 6.30pm and features properties in Dublin, Westmeath, Carlow, Cavan, Longford, Meath and Offaly with starting bid prices from €65,000.
Also, the team at BidX1 (formerly Allsop Ireland) is hosting their online auction on 27th and 28th September for commercial and residential properties.
On the market
- Hooke & MacDonald have firmly re-established themselves as the masters of new homes, with houses and apartments right across Dublin north and south, Meath and Kildare from €240,000 in Dublin.
- Similarly, Knight Frank have started the traditional selling season by launching some amazing Dublin red brick executive homes, from Dalkey to Ballsbridge (€2.5m upwards).
- Hunters are showcasing a range of starter and quality trading-up properties (mainly south Dublin) from apartments in Kilmainham to family homes in Mount Merrion and Blackrock – all beautifully presented, as is that agency’s trademark.
- Development sites on the market include golf course land at Brittas on the Dublin/Wicklow border through Colliers guiding €1.2 million; 5.6 acres in Bray through Knight Frank guiding €1 million; 7.11 acres 5km south of Ballincollig in Cork guiding €4 million through Lisney and McCarthy McGrath as joint agents.
Other property-related news
- Donal Buckley writes that ‘Texas-based Lone Star is taking a twin-track approach to maximising returns from the extensive commercial and residential loan portfolios it acquired from Nama and other financial institutions based here’. This refers to the fund not only buying up distressed assets but also adding value through development and financing development in Ireland.
- Iconic Offices have upped the co-working game once again through their newest offering to the Dublin market. The Greenway offices on St. Stephen’s Green are described as Ireland’s “most dynamic state-of-the-art flexible workspace”. Former occupiers of the building include Eircom and the Revenue Commissioners but even they would not recognise the place after the €2 million refurbishment. Along with six-storeys of office space, The Greenway will include a cafe called Vandal Cafe Co. and an impressive 50 seat cinema.
- According to a piece by Jack Horgan-Jones, ‘Half of shared ownership mortgages are in arrears’. Also, close to 90% of loans in a government sub-prime mortgage scheme are “under water”. This is particularly relevant given recent political rhetoric about the role the State ought to play in helping low-income buyers finance their homes under a new (arguably unsustainable) housing model.
- I generally try to avoid reports that are more gossip than relevant; however, Stephen O’Brien writes today (The Sunday Times) about ‘Fine Gael TD in social housing spat’. Kildare So0uth TD Martin Heydon has criticised plans for 24 social housing units in Athy despite appearing in publicity photos for the development just two months ago. (If there is a ‘theme of the day’ to this property round-up then today’s must surely be that politics and housing do not mix – incidentally, I joined my first political party last week so if I row back on this, feel free to pull me up on it!)
- Brian Carey and Philip Connolly write that ‘Castlethorn, Cotter and Cairn pile into Dublin’s housing market’ referring to proposed new developments including: a joint venture between Castlethorn and Marathon Asset Management to build out 340 apartments in Heuston South Quarter in Dublin 8, Park Developments seeking to build 927 units in Leopardstown and Cairn looking to deliver 598 student beds in Stillorgan, close to UCD.
- Green Reit management company (majority owned by Stephen Vernon and Pat Gunne) earned €75m in fees.
- DAA fails to get new Dublin Airport hotel off the ground: tender pulled as talks with preferred bidders Windward Management (Patrick Coyle) and financing partners Invesco ended.
- If you are looking for a longer read, there is an interview with Mac Group founder Paul McKenna on his success in the niche sector of refurbishing offices on page 6 of the Business section in The Sunday Times.
- Linda Daly writes that borrowers are caught up in the apparent mortgage war that is raging amongst providers at the moment. The upshot is for borrowers not to get distracted by offers of cashback or attractive LTV – it’s all about the interest rate.
- Lorcan Sirr’s column this week is headed ‘No house, no pension?’ He writes that “as we increasingly have to rely on equity in our properties to pay for care in retirement, renters look set to fall further behind homeowners in terms of welfare…The gap between the housing haves and have-nots is becoming a chasm.”
The Construction Industry Federation is holding its Annual Conference on October 12th at Croke Park with An Taoiseach, the Housing Minister, international industry leaders and tech speakers on the future of the industry. For bookings head to https://www.cifconference.ie/
For all things tech and innovation for the planning, construction and property industries, head over to http://www.prop-tech.ie, the national resource website for industry innovators, investors and mentors.
Finally, just a quick reminder that the Irish Property Buyers’ Handbook is being updated for 2018 and I would love to hear about any experiences in the market or new services, technology and trends for buyers. As always, you are welcome to email me with any industry news and updates at Carol@CarolTallon.com.