Sunday, 31 July 2011

Taxpayer Beware Of Nama...

Taxpayer beware as Nama makes spectacular loss.

Loss-making Nama has become a seemingly endless gravy train. Worse still, it has emerged as a bailout for some of the same developers who have brought this country to its knees...

When it was announced by then Finance Minister Brian Lenihan during his emergency budget speech in April 2009, we were told it would get credit moving, we were promised it would not be a bailout for developers, we were told it wouldn't be a gravy train for advisers, consultants and public sector fat cats and we were told it would make a profit.

Set up to save the country from the greed and recklessness of the banks and developers, including Liam Carroll, Bernard McNamara and Sean Dunne, Nama was an unprecedented development in Irish history.

But, more than two years on from its inception, there is no question on all of these fronts: Nama has failed and failed spectacularly, and the taxpayer should be very concerned indeed.

As last Thursday's annual report revealed losses of €1.1bn -- a truly incredible loss given its short lifespan -- it was estimated that the organisation described earlier this year by Taoiseach Enda Kenny as a "secret society" could need up to €1bn of taxpayers' money just to stay afloat, despite just three developers owing more than €2bn each, and nine others owing debts of over €1bn.

Because all of Nama's forecasts are based on property price evaluations from November 2009, which have plummeted considerably since, of the €1.1bn losses reported in Thursday's report, €1.485bn comes from revaluing loans at the end of 2010.

Given the continual slide so far this year, losses at the end of 2011 are very likely to be significantly worse, forcing Nama to seek more money from the taxpayer to cover what is likely to then be an ever-increasing hole in its balance sheet.

As a result, according to Namawinelake, a highly respected online blog about Nama, the bad bank could need a further injection from the taxpayer by the end of this year, given the scale of the losses already racked up, primarily due to falling house prices.

"Nama was created with a clean slate in December 2009. Perhaps it should be surprising, even shocking, therefore that the agency has racked up such a large loss in its first year of operation. Indeed, were it not for Nama's accounting treatment of part of the consideration it pays the banks -- the subordinated bonds which will only be honoured if Nama makes a profit -- then Nama might have been forced into a position today of asking the Government for further capital of at least €1bn. It is an astounding loss," the blog stated.

Now, these at the moment are paper losses which are hopefully going to be made up before its life is ended in nine years' time, but given the continued drop in prices, such hopes seem wildly optimistic.

Two years on, Nama is losing over €1bn already, and likely to lose an awful lot more; it has become a very rich source of earnings for advisers and consultants; it has become the bailout for developers; and of course credit in the Irish system is still non-existent, despite countless promises.

Mother of all quangos:

Nama, by paying €30.5bn for loans previously worth €72.3bn, has become owner of the world's biggest property portfolio, and has gone from an initial staff number of less than 10 to more than 150, and growing -- among the best paid public servants in the country -- with a salary bill of €10.3m.

In total, 122 senior personnel at Nama and the National Treasury Management Agency are being paid in excess of €100,000. CEO Brendan McDonagh, we were told by the report, was paid a salary of €430,000 and expenses, and a car allowance of €23,000.

He did, God bless him, forgo his bonus -- worth up to 60 per cent of his salary. I suppose losing €1bn in your first year may have something to do with that.

Chairman Frank Daly, the former Revenue tsar, pocketed €159,116 for his trouble, while Michael Connolly, the chair of the credit committee, received €146,374.

In total, board and committee fees for last year came to €589,341.

Gravy train for legal and financial advisers:

According to the report, Nama has racked up €46m in administration costs.

As part of that, throughout 2010, Nama spent approximately €100,000 a day on financial and legal experts. Legal advisers, including firm Arthur Cox, were paid €485 an hour for carrying out due diligence on loans transferred to Nama, according to information in this latest and previous reports.

Price Waterhouse Cooper (PWC) was alone paid €1.9m in January 2010 for offering "set-up advice".

Between April and May of 2010, PWC was also paid €60,000 a week or €400 per hour per consultant.

A further €15m was paid to Capita Asset Services and the banks for administering the loans. Despite McDonagh saying the banks performed "well below" acceptable standards in their dealings with Nama, the banks are to receive up to €72m this year for administering the loans.

According to its earlier report, accountancy firm KPMG was also paid €5.8m during the first six months in 2010 for loan evaluations.

The report said boldly that legal and tax fees amounted to €4m, a modest sum. However, a more in-depth read of the report reveals that fees to lawyers last year were actually €30m higher, due to "necessary expenditure on securing legal due diligence and valuation services". Nama said these fees have been recouped from the banks, but given that the taxpayer now owns the banks and has pumped over €70bn into them so far, we are paying for these fees either way.

Bailout for developers:

Last Thursday's report gave us confirmation that Ireland's destruction and collapse was a result of the greed, recklessness and sheer incompetence of property speculators who, through their actions, have brought this country to its knees.

You would think that these people would be somehow held to account, brought to task, made accountable for what they did.

In Nama's early days, Brendan McDonagh said they would. At an Oireachtas Committee last year, he declared, "I want to dispel any notion that Nama is a bailout for developers. It is no such thing."

Frank Daly chipped in that the "jets, the yachts, Bentleys or whatever" would not be supported by Nama.

But now we know the truth. Nama is going much softer on the developers than it has claimed.

Apart from the one or two sacrificial lambs like Liam Carroll and Bernard McNamara, who appear to be carrying the collective shame on their shoulders, many of the other big borrowers are now doing very well out of Nama.

Earlier this year, this newspaper confirmed that, despite the collapse in the value of their properties, a number of the leading developers are currently in receipt of salaries in excess of €200,000, and are continuing to live the lifestyles they enjoyed before the crash.

And apparently the Nama bosses have no problem with that, as long as they are paying the interest on their loans. That's the interest, not the core loan itself.

"If you are paying the interest, you can have the lifestyle you want," McDonagh said on RTE radio.

Asked why a coterie of developers should be in receipt of six-figure salaries, given the losses facing the taxpayer, my Nama source explained the agency's rationale.

"The way we see it, Nama could bring in a receiver to deal with a portfolio. Say the portfolio is €100m. The receiver will want a 1 per cent commission to handle that, or €1m from the off. Once you appoint him, the same receiver may well come back and admit he's only an accountant. Then you're looking at engaging property advisers etc.

"So if we can get a developer to work for us for €200,000, and get his team for another €200,000, at €400,000 that's a good deal for us and the taxpayer," he said.

And let's not forget the payment of €810,845 to Nama developers Johnny Ronan and Richard Barrett of Treasury Holdings, in rent for office space.

But there is more: now we know that these developers could earn millions in incentivised bonuses should they meet the core part of their loans -- not the whole amount, but only the amount Nama needs to cover its costs.

"If a debtor fully co-operates with Nama, then the additional proceeds will be divided -- 90 per cent to Nama and 10 per cent to the developer."

So in a case where even though the full amount of the original loan has not been paid, once a development realises a profit of €20m above what Nama paid, the developer will get an incentivised bonus of €2m.

So, if it walks like a bailout, talks like a bailout and looks like a bailout, guess what? It is a bailout.

The Nama story so far has been a sorry tale of woe for the taxpayer. But, worryingly, that isn't likely to change any time soon.

In fact, it's likely only to get worse.

Report by Daniel McConnell - Sunday Independent

Web Jam For NAMA Properties...

Web jam as 10,000 download list of NAMA properties...

NAMA'S list of property for sale was downloaded by 10,000 people in just a day and a half as bargain hunters scoured the list for cheap deals.

A spokesman for toxic debt agency NAMA revealed last night that it was forced to make emergency changes to its website in order to cope with the unprecedented web traffic.

It came after NAMA made a list of 850 properties it is selling through receivers available for the first time.

The list features property in 25 of the 26 counties as well as Northern Ireland and the UK.

The assets listed include everything from car park spaces and bedsits, through to family homes and significant commercial and industrial assets.

NAMA is not directly selling any of the property but its 150 staff have been inundated with enquiries since the list went live, sources at the agency said.

NAMA is now looking at ways to make the property list easier for the public to access.

It also intends to update the online list on a monthly basis -- a sure sign the agency expects to appoint a steady stream of receivers to assets held by more of the 850 people that owe money to the agency.

If NAMA does update the property list every month it will give a unique insight into where demand for Irish property assets really lie in the current market.

Monitoring which properties come off the list every month will show whether it is family homes, commercial premises or farmland that are selling fastest.

Report by Donal O'Donovan - Irish Independent

Friday, 29 July 2011

NAMA Fire Sale Bargains...

NAMA fire sales aim to breathe life back into market...

Thousands chase property at knockdown prices as NAMA puts houses, farms, pubs and apartments up for sale.

BARGAIN hunters came out in force yesterday after bad bank NAMA put nearly 1,000 properties up for sale in the largest single sell-off in the history of the State.

The prospect of picking up a farm, pub, quarry, three-bed semi, hotel, apartment -- even an airport -- sparked an unprecedented wave of interest within hours of the list being published.

NAMA chiefs even promised to finance some of the sales as the agency announced losses of €1.18bn on dealings for last year.

It also revealed the extent to which NAMA is to recover money from reluctant debtors. In one case -- and as late as this week -- it seized jewellery worth €200,000 that had been given to a developer's partner.

NAMA bosses insisted they were not running a fire sale and kept asking prices and bids received a closely guarded secret last night.

But the reality is the agency will have to accept knockdown prices to get the property market moving and to meet strict financial targets laid down by the IMF.

That knowledge, combined with curiosity and thirst for a bargain, sent thousands on to the internet last night to pore over the portfolio.

Within hours, more than a thousand people had downloaded details.

NAMA's own switchboard was inundated and its staff fielded hundreds of enquiries -- before directing callers to the receivers that are handling the sales.

The list runs to 850 properties -- some of which are entire apartment blocks.

It includes everything from London pubs to fields in Offaly. But the 850 figure represents only one-tenth of the total number of property loans in NAMA.

The so-called 'bad bank' is even considering adding fine wines, art collections and jewellery that its officials have seized from troubled developers in its efforts to recoup money for the taxpayer.

NAMA is owed e72bn by borrowers from Ireland and abroad.

So far it has generated e2.6bn from sales and rental income.

The agency has also lent a further e900m in working capital to developers to finish off projects.

The agency has so far spent e46m on legal, audit, tax and board fees during the year.

Chief executive Brendan McDonagh earns a salary of e430,000, with chairman Frank Daly receiving e159,116.

The scale of the agency's customer debt was also laid bare yesterday.

For example, three developers owe more than e2bn each, but NAMA refused to name them. Another nine owe more than e1.5bn each.

Among the biggest debtors with NAMA are Sean Mulryan, Treasury Holdings, Joe O'Reilly of Castlethorn Construction, and Derek Quinlan, a former tax inspector.


For all its new-found transparency, NAMA still cannot reveal how much even the biggest debtors owe, or even who they are.

Mr McDonagh admitted yesterday that some developers had failed to make a fill disclosure of their assets when asked.

"Some of them forgot to put some things on the list,'' he said.

However, he said the lavish lifestyles of developers were now over.

"The helicopters are grounded," Mr McDonagh added.

Information on hidden assets was also becoming available.

"Ireland is a small country. It's amazing what people might mention they know -- information that is always welcome."

The launch of the NAMA list is a marketing coup on a scale not seen since fake punters queued over night for unavailable Dublin apartments at the height of the boom.

NAMA said it went public with the lists in the interest of transparency, but bargain hunters are hoping it's a sign the toxic loan agency is under pressure to up the pace in shifting its €30.5bn property book.

The list of properties runs to more than 800 so far-- some of those listed include multiple units in apartment blocks and retail centres, so there are more than 1,000 units involved altogether.

Even that number is just a tenth of the total number of property loans in NAMA.

Report - Irish Independent

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Luxury Social Housing...

Luxury flats to be set aside for social housing...

THEY once had a price tag of almost €1.5m each but now a set of luxury apartments nestled in the foothills of the Dublin Mountains are being sold for an average of just €177,500.

And instead of attracting Celtic Tiger cubs, some of the high-end dwellings are being set aside for social housing.

A total of 58 apartments in the Beacon South Quarter, Sandyford, which are in NAMA, have been purchased by the voluntary housing body Cluid.

The apartments, which were built at the height of the boom, have views over Dublin and are serviced by the M50 and the Luas.


They were bought from a receiver appointed by NAMA to the development company Landmark Enterprises.

It is the first such deal between NAMA and a voluntary body and will see 34 of the apartments going to people on the social housing list for Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown local authority.

The remaining 24 will be rented through the private market.

Three-quarters of the €10.3m needed to purchase the apartments was provided by the State-owned Housing Finance Agency (HFA).

The rest of the funding came from Cluid's own resources and the Capital Advance Leasing Facility (CALF), a new facility created to support the acquisition of new homes using funding from financial institutions.

Cluid director of operations Neil Bolton said the deal represented a sea change in how social housing was funded.

"In the past, it was the norm for projects developed by voluntary bodies like Cluid to be 100pc grant-funded through Exchequer sources, but this is no longer an option," he revealed.

"The recession has forced us to explore different ways to fund the delivery of new social housing. Public funds are extremely scarce, but demand for social housing continues to grow."

The new occupants of the Beacon South Quarter apartments will receive the keys for their homes in the autumn.

Report by Kevin Keane - Irish Independent

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

House Prices Still Falling...

House prices still falling - Dublin tops the list...

House prices in Dublin are nearly 47pc off their peak in early 2007 compared with 39pc in the rest of the country, according to the Central Statistics Office.

In the year to June, residential property prices at a national level fell by 12.9pc.

This compares with an drop of 12.2% in May and a decrease of 12.4pc recorded in the twelve months to June 2010.

In Dublin, residential property prices decreased by 2.4pc in June and were 12.6pc down compared with a year ago.

House prices in the capital fell by 2.4pc last month and were 11.9pc lower on an annual basis.

But economists believe that while the jobs market remains weak, within five years house prices should improve but very slowly.

“The bottom line is that the property market remains very ‘soft’ at the moment,” said Alan McQuaid, chief economist at Bloxham Stockbrokers.

“ But looking further ahead, we think house prices should increase on a five-year view as the labour market improve.

“That said, the level of any rise over the next few years is only likely to be in single digits as banks adopt a more cautious stance to lending than in the ‘Celtic Tiger’ era, interest rates return to ‘normal’ and the introduction of a property tax for ‘principal’ homes of residence all weigh negatively on the market.”

Report - Irish Independent

Bertie's Bewildering Celtic Tiger Tips...

Bertie bags $40,000 - for tips on Celtic Tiger 'success'...

FORMER Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is charging American companies a fortune to present a new lecture -- about how he transformed our economy in the Celtic Tiger boom.

The man targeted by many as the architect of our crippling recession, is charging more than $40,000 (€27,554) a time for speaking engagements with the elite Washington Speakers Bureau.

During the lecture, Mr Ahern offers tips to bosses of leading firms on how to be competitive.

The former Fianna Fail leader has been employed for a number of years as one of the highest-paid speakers with the bureau -- whose motto is 'Connecting you with the world's greatest minds' .

In his latest lecture -- entitled 'Prime Minister as CEO' -- he tells listeners to adopt Ireland's Celtic Tiger as a model of economic growth.

Last night it was described as "bewildering".

Bosses of the bureau refused to reveal the number of times Mr Ahern has been hired for engagements.

However, a well-placed source said he is now one of the most sought-after of the 346 speakers on their books.

His fee, which is listed as being more than US$40,000, is in the top bracket and shared by just 57 other mostly American speakers, including former US President George W Bush.

A gushing profile, listed on the website of the bureau, pays tribute to what many regard as Mr Ahern's greatest achievement in office -- his key role in forging the Good Friday Agreement.

But it is his speech on the economy which promises to reveal how Irish citizens accepted "short-term sacrifices to achieve long-term gain", which has raised most eyebrows.

The outline of the speech reads: "Leading the turnaround of an entire country is akin to the constant evolution companies and organisations must undergo to remain competitive.

"Bertie Ahern dedicated his career to re-inventing his country's economic and political stakes in global affairs. He persuaded his fellow politicians and citizens to accept short-term sacrifices to achieve long-term gain.

"His ability to persuade his constituents to follow his vision provides lessons for even the most seasoned executives."

In this thought-provoking presentation, Mr Ahern describes:

?His approach to developing and executing a successful long-term vision.

?How to persuade employees, customers and stakeholders to participate and embrace change.

?What every leader must do to achieve large-scale success.

?How to successfully bring people with you by building consensus.

Labour TD Ciaran Lynch last night said he was astonished that companies would want to employ Mr Ahern to give them advice on how to be competitive.

And he said the news would sit badly with the majority of the Irish population, particularly people crippled by debt due to "the errors made when Mr Ahern was Taoiseach".

He added: "It's absolutely bewildering, particularly given the worldwide coverage of Ireland's economic collapse, that he's being promoted as a strategic thinker for companies.

"The mismanagement of the Irish company happened under his watch and it must be frustrating for the Irish public to hear about the huge payments he's getting for this speech, while so many of them live in desperate situations."

Mr Ahern also gives three other speeches for the bureau -- 'Leadership in Changing Times: What It Takes to Succeed', 'The Future Role of the European Union on the World Stage' and 'Peace Through Inclusive Dialogue: Ireland's Journey'.

Report by Nick Bramhill - Irish Independent

Monday, 25 July 2011

New Irish Property Tax...

More pain as households hit with new €100 ‘property’ tax...

ALMOST all households are set to be hit with a new €100 service charge to be announced this week, the Irish Independent has learned.

The Cabinet will sign off on the combined water and property tax tomorrow, despite the easing of the debt burden under the new EU bailout deal.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan is coming under pressure to exempt those on low incomes from the new tax, which will result in middle-income earners paying more.

The Government is expecting to bring in upwards of €150m from the charge.

The flat-rate levy, to be introduced next year, will be the first tough decision to be taken by the Coalition that will prove unpopular to the overwhelming majority of people.

The options for the annual charge range from €100 to €200 a year. The likely outcome is a sum at the lower range of €100, with a small number of exemptions -- the solution favoured by Mr Hogan. However, this will have to be approved by the Cabinet.

"If you go into massive numbers of exemptions, you won't raise the funds required. The idea is to have a small amount and a small number of waivers," a source said.

There are 1.8 million households in the country and only about 10pc of homes -- between 150,000 and 200,000 -- will not have to pay the new tax.

However, the tax will be payable by the property owner, meaning landlords will have to pay the bill and are therefore expected to pass on the costs to their tenants in higher rents. This provision will affect a host of social welfare recipients and low-income earners.

The collection of the household service charge is expected to follow the model of the tax on second homes, which is payable on the internet.

Failure to pay the household service charge will result in penalties being applied. The amount to be paid is being announced now to give ample warning before its introduction in January.

The funding will go directly to local authorities and the councils' grant from central government will be reduced by the same amount.

After promising to let people know how much they will be paying before the Dail summer break, there was some doubt cast last week over whether the decision would be kicked to touch again.

The charge will form part of the €3.6bn worth of additional taxes and spending cuts in next year's Budget.

The new tax will be greeted with hostility, particularly as it comes in the wake of the new EU deal resulting in a saving of about €1bn a year in bailout loan repayments.

Left-wing groups are already planning to oppose the tax.

However, Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said yesterday this year's Budget deficit of €18bn still had to be brought down -- regardless of the national debt or banking crisis.


The Cabinet will debate the new tax at its meeting tomorrow, with the details announced afterwards. Bringing in property and water charges was a condition of the bailout deal reached with the IMF/EU.

The Government will attempt to soften the blow by saying the new charge breaks down to just €1.92 a week and goes toward the provision of local council services, such as water, sewerage, road maintenance and fire brigades. It will argue this is the way local services should ideally be funded and is the system in place in most European countries.

The charges will be accompanied by a PR campaign to explain where the funds go.

The rollout of the new household service charge will be a precursor to a property tax.

The Cabinet is also due to discuss the installation of water meters in every house in the country. But this scheme will take several years to introduce.

Once houses are metered, water charges will be introduced.

Householders will be given a basic allowance of water for free and pay for anything they use over and above that amount.

The formal property tax will also come in once a valuation system is set up.

Rather than a flat-rate charge, the sum to be paid will be based upon the value of the house or its size.

Again, such a comprehensive valuation system will take several years to establish.

Report by Fionnan Sheahan - Irish Independent

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Depression Surge In Rich Suburbs...

Depression surge in rich suburbs over cash worries...

Affluent areas see huge jump in demand for mental health services.

The number of anxiety and depression disorders in the country's richest neighbourhood has more than doubled since the recession.

People worried about their mortgages, losing their jobs and paying private school fees in Dalkey, Blackrock, and Dun Laoghaire, are flocking to their GPs for treatment for mental health conditions.

Householders living in the affluent neighbourhood, which is home to U2's Bono, Enya, and film director Neil Jordan, are becoming ill as they struggle to pay their bills.

The clinical director of the Cluain Mhuire Community Mental Health Services for Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, Dr Siobhan Barry, said there has been a huge jump in the number of referrals to their services between 2008 and 2009, when the recession hit the country.

The remarkable increase in the numbers attending the public service is also thought to be caused by an increase in patients who used private healthcare in the past.

Before the economic downturn in 2006, there were just over 8,000 (8,076) patients referred by their GP to the St John of God out-patient service, but by 2009 the figure had doubled to over 16,000 (16,676).

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Barry said GPs were citing financial problems in their referral letters.

She said: "There are a lot of anxiety disorders and a certain level of low-mood depression with these kinds of conditions directly linked to the financial recession. I would certainly say that around a third of the referrals from GPs certainly contain references to financial problems and there were virtually none previously.

"In national terms it would be the most affluent catchment area although it has always had pockets of deprivation.

"GPs are saying that people are under financial strain and worrying about making ends meet, which is contributing to a lack of sleep. This type of financial worry can trigger an anxiety disorder.

"There has been a huge jump in the number of referrals from 2008 to 2009. Our feeling is the numbers have increased due to the economic situation and the amount of new people who might have attended elsewhere previously in a private capacity."

The number of people looking for treatment for mental health disorders also coincides with a dramatic rise in the numbers on the live register in Dun Laoghaire.

In the last five years the numbers signing on in the suburb has almost tripled from 2,580 people in 2006 to 7,928 last month (June 2011).

Dr Barry said: "People are presenting with recession-related problems around financial security. They are worried their employment is going to go or their shares have gone.

"In south county Dublin there are quite a high number of fee-paying schools and a lot of the population would themselves have gone to fee-paying schools.

"When they can no longer afford the fees there is a huge personal sense of shame.

"People are reporting that they are becoming fearful, unable to sleep, frightened of what is coming down the tracks and that they become mentally paralysed."

She said the services had found that practical help to tackle finances can often provide a huge sense of relief.

She said: "We are referring patients to social workers. They try to get them to take practical steps and go through their financial circumstances.

"The second part of the intervention is helping people to become calmer and more accepting."

Report by LYNNE KELLEHER - Sunday Independent

Friday, 22 July 2011

More Irish Property Auctions...

New mass sale in autumn...

More property auctions are on the cards as owners seek fast sales in an uncertain market.

KNIGHT FRANK is the latest estate agency firm to enter the mass auction market with plans to to hold a sale of 30 to 40 homes on a single day in the autumn.

The company, which specialises in prime Dublin and country property, is currently scouting for suitable homes to include in an auction scheduled for October.

The two auctions held by the Allsop/Space partnership, in April and earlier this month, have shown that there is a market for distressed properties at knockdown prices. Allsop/Space plans to hold a third auction in September with over 100 properties, the vast majority of which are being sold by receivers and banks. Savills is also planning to hold a distressed property sale in the autumn and is believed to be in negotiations with banks to sell their distresed stock. However, Knight Frank sees an opportunity in selling homes for owners rather than for banks and receivers. “We feel there is market for auctions. We feel there is a market for people who simply want to sell on the day,” says Robert Ganly of Knight Frank. “We plan to issue disclosed reserves which makes it easier for would be buyers.”

Meanwhile in Galway, O’Donnellan Joyce sold over €5 million worth of property at three weekly auctions between July 1st and July 15th. Over 600 people attended the three auctions at which 19 properties were sold under the hammer.

These included terraced houses and businesses in Salthill as well as holiday homes, apartments in the city centre and large family homes in the Galway suburbs.

Report by ORNA MULCAHY - Irish Times

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Last Chance For Euro...

Eurozone governments in last-chance saloon to save the single currency...

All of the metaphors have been used -- from edge-of-a-cliff, meltdowns and hanging threads -- but the real terror confronting the eurozone is that its banks, out of fear that other banks' solvency is threatened by default on sovereign debt, could stop lending to one another.

This would bring the credit system to a halt and the ensuing liquidity crisis would, if left unresolved, result in insolvency and default. European economies could languish in deep recession for a decade or more and this is how a euro crisis would play out -- in sets of insolvency, uncertainty and illiquidity.

So what exactly happened to the eurozone officials over the past 10 days?

First, finance ministers admitted there may need to be a default on sovereign debt. They did not specify for which country or in what form. Instead, they tried to duck out for their summer holidays and said the details would be announced in September. Markets were left to wonder where the axe would fall.

Not surprisingly, the markets and the credit-rating agencies caught the departing ministers by the collar and said this was not good enough. Irish debt was junked and the markets signalled a new low in their confidence in the ability of the eurozone to handle the crisis by raising interest rates on Italian and Spanish debt. This heightened the possibility that the crisis could spiral beyond the financial capacity to manage it. In response, eurozone officials simply condemned the markets and the credit agencies.

Meanwhile, the ECB continued to fiddle with inflation on the banks of the River Main, insisting that it really does not have any role to play in resolving the wider crisis. It has helped to manage the crisis thus far but threatens to pull the plug on Greek banks if there is even a whiff of default on Greek debt. This withdrawal of liquidity could catapult the crisis beyond control, but, while making such threats, Jean-Claude Trichet insists that the euro is a stable currency.

Stress tests on banks suggested they might need €3bn in new capital, but market analysts said this was not credible and the need might be as high as €80bn. Nervous markets are unlikely to want to recapitalise banks to this extent, especially when they still do not see a solution to the crisis, and this makes them even more nervous.

So eurozone leaders reluctantly agreed "to discuss the financial stability of the euro-area as a whole and the future financing of the Greek programme". We are warned in advance, however, that today's three-hour summit will not produce a final solution to the problem.

So where does that leave us?

Governments made significant progress in their understanding of the euro crisis in recent weeks and finally admitted that it was a common problem -- requiring a shared solution -- and not a set of isolated events. The euro group committed "to enhancing the flexibility and the scope" of its response and to lengthening the maturities of loans and lowering interest rates.

This new approach gave expression to what Ajai Chopra of the IMF nicely termed "a European solution to a European problem".

But new approaches need to be fully elaborated, anticipate market reaction and be quickly implemented for maximum effect. Otherwise, markets can panic and block implementation. They will immediately ask the big questions unless all of the answers are spelled out in advance -- and will sell Spanish debt if they do not know how the new plan will save it.

And a lot of questions need to be answered.

The IMF says that the Greek programme is "on a knife-edge" and admits that it would probably walk away from the whole deal if the global financial repercussions would not be so catastrophic. A bigger effort, including debt restructuring, is required and the summit may give a general indication of how this could be achieved.

But, debt restructuring -- or private sector involvement (PSI) -- will rattle the markets and this needs to be anticipated and provided for.

The IMF warns that "given the impact PSI could have on Greece's credit rating, it is imperative for euro-area member states to put in place mechanisms to guarantee liquidity support to Greece's banking system while a PSI operation is undertaken". Moreover, it is "absolutely essential for the sustainability of the program that the ECB stands ready to provide liquidity support if needed".

And this is where the concern now lies: the crisis has already jumped another notch or two beyond the delayed understanding of the eurozone governments. The problem is no longer confined to finding a solution to the debt crisis -- a solution that should have been spelled out a year ago -- but now includes reaching agreement on how to deal with the financial fallout from any plan and putting the necessary structures in place.

This is what the IMF calls a "comprehensive approach".

Today's summit may present a last chance for eurozone leaders to forestall a blizzard in European credit markets and they will not get away with an incomplete response. The summer is still a long, long way off.

Gary O'Callaghan is Professor of Economics at Dubrovnik International University. He was a member of the staff of the IMF and has advised numerous governments on macroeconomic policies.

Report - Irish Independent

Monday, 18 July 2011

Huge Bill For Taxpayer...

Building ban on rezoned land leaves taxpayer with huge bill...

THE taxpayer will be forced to pick up the tab as councils ban housing on massive banks of land -- bought for billions by property speculators at the height of the boom.

The value of development sites has plummeted by more than 90pc, after councils rezoned land which is no longer needed for housing.

The Irish Independent has learned that 12 of the country's 34 local authorities have already dezoned or banned development on lands. The remainder will do so by the end of the year, under a radical shake-up of planning system countrywide.

But the move will have serious implications for taxpayers. Banks lent billions for speculative deals on those lands which have since collapsed -- with the State now forced to pick up the bill. Housing will now no longer be allowed to be built on 8,000 hectares previously earmarked for development in 12 local authorities alone.

At the height of the boom, this land could have sold for more than €1m per hectare. However, after rezoning the average value is likely to be just €25,000 a hectare, informed sources said.

The findings provide the first indications of the extent of the zoning madness rubberstamped by councils over the last decade.

Many of the local authorities were controlled by Fine Gael, the main government party now tasked with cleaning up the mess.

At the height of the boom, around 44,000 hectares of land -- enough to build more than one million homes -- was zoned as suitable for housing.

This was almost 32,000 hectares more than needed.

House prices continued to soar, despite the oversupply, with landbanks swapping for huge sums. In practice, many of these landbanks were swapped from owner to owner, with nothing built. Now local authorities have been ordered to rationalise their planning policy -- identifying where there are needless landbanks, and dealing with them by rezoning.

The massive shake-up does bring some good news for thousands of homeowners living in ghost estates because these developments will have to be completed before planning permission is granted for new units.

But it will also have a negative impact on the taxpayer. Every loan over €20m goes into NAMA, meaning that hundreds of devalued sites are now controlled by the 'bad bank'. About 18pc of the €73bn in NAMA loans are connected to land.

A NAMA spokesman said these loans had been substantially written-down when they were taken over, some by as much as 90pc.

The new figures show:

?a total of 12 councils had 14,000 hectares of land available for housing two years ago; l Under the new plans, there are just 5,800 hectares;

?Laois now has 273 hectares of land for housing, down from 2,235 hectares two years ago;

?Sligo County Council reduced its landbank from 350 hectares to 195;

?Other councils to have re-zoned are Fingal, Clare, North Tipperary, South Tipperary, South Dublin, Wicklow, Galway City, Dublin City, Kildare and Cork City.

Report by Paul Melia - Irish Independent

Zonning Frenzy Brought Us Down...

Zonning frenzy brought us down - and made us finally see sense...

THE maps would arrive in their hundreds, each accompanied by a letter urging the council to rezone the highlighted land for housing.

"When a review of a development plan started, and people saw the notices in the paper, that's when the race started," one insider said.

Everyone with a few acres believed their land was ripe for a few houses or apartments.

And for the most part, city and county councillors obliged, zoning more than 44,000 hectares of land for housing, even though there was need for only a fraction of that.

Eventually the State was awash with unfinished developments and NAMA found itself lumped with €73bn of land and development loans.

We've finally come full circle, and are in the middle of moving to a system whereby land will only be earmarked for housing when there is clear evidence there will be enough people to live there.

Every council in the country has been told to introduce a 'core strategy' into their county development plans before the end of the year. This strategy sets out how many houses are needed over a six-year period, and how much land will be needed for them. And over the next year, the land for these homes will be identified in towns and villages.

Many landowners whose land does not fall into this bracket will find their property rezoned -- or made 'sterile' by the council not allowing it to be developed until at least 2018.

We've learnt the lessons of the past. Now we must make sure we never repeat our mistakes.

Report by Paul Melia - Irish Independent

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Banks Stop Property Market Recovery...

Banks tell families -- no loans for homes...

Mortgage approval plummets by 90% as banks hoard bailout cash

A RECOVERY in the property market is being stopped dead in its tracks by the banks, which are turning down at least half of all mortgage applications -- mostly from people who are highly creditworthy.

With many experts now convinced that the market has gone below bottom, the difficulty in accessing credit for even high-quality applicants has reached crisis point.

Banks are continuing to reject applications for credit and 2011 looks like posting the worst mortgage-origination figures in four decades.

On Friday AIB, which is to merge with Educational Building Society, won conditional approval from the European Commission for yet another capital injection -- this time of up to €13.1bn. It is part of more than €19bn that was approved after the latest bank stress tests and comes on top of billions in taxpayers' money that has already been pumped into the banking sector but not passed on to the customer.

The claim that banks have stymied recovery in the property market comes as Charles Gallagher, founder of Ireland's only remaining publicly listed housebuilder, Abbey PLC, insisted that there could be a "healthy rebound in the housing market" here if mortgage-lending conditions were to improve.

Instead, it looks likely that only 11,000 mortgages will be approved this year -- down from 111,253 at the height of the boom in 2006.

Broker Kevin McNerney of the Trusted Advisor Group said there were thousands of potential buyers out there who believe that the market has finally bottomed out.

But for many of them affordability was either not the issue or was only secondary to the problem of getting access to credit.

"In the last few months, there has been a steady increase in the level of activity in the market," said Mr McNerney. The numbers of people turning up at showhouses and contacting estate agents is increasing. More importantly, the number of genuinely interested people has definitely escalated.

"However, a major hurdle to the rejuvenation of Ireland's property market is not the lack of interested buyers but rather the number of mortgage applications submitted to the banks, compared to the number of applications that are declined. My estimation is that at least half are being turned down."

Mr McNerney said that from his own personal experience there was an increase in the number and quality of applications being received.

"Unfortunately, this is not translating into an increase in the number of mortgage approvals from lenders.

"The majority of people I speak to at present would be looking to buy in the Greater Dublin area and most would be of the opinion that the prices have pretty much gone as low as they will go, or at least are certainly at a level now that makes it much more feasible for these people to buy rather than stay renting.

"Unfortunately, though, the banks are still being very tight in certain areas where I feel they could use some leniency. I am not saying they should go back to the lending practices of three years ago but a bit of common sense would not go astray."

Last week, Frank Conway of said that the banking sector was continuing to focus on improving bank capital, which can only be done by bringing money in, not lending it out.

"Anecdotally, individual cases may be approved but this is not for the masses, especially not for those who are in negative equity or who now regret their investment decisions," said Mr Conway.

The latest EBS/DKM affordability index shows that property is now more affordable than at any time in the past 25 years. Funding a mortgage on a new home will cost the average first-time-buyer couple just 13 per cent of their joint income today -- down from 26.4 per cent in 2006.

Nationally, the net income needed to fund a mortgage for the average working couple is expected to fall to just 12.9 per cent (15.6 per cent in Dublin) by September -- creating the most affordable house-purchase scenario since the mid-Eighties.

House prices keep falling -- by 12.2 per cent in the year to the end of May -- but new mortgage lending remains low. According to the Irish Banking Federation (IBF), the number of mortgage loans issued continued to decline.

Just over 3,000 mortgages were issued in the first three months of this year, according to figures from the IBF. That is the lowest level of mortgages since records began.

Report JEROME REILLY - Sunday Independent

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Dublin Protest...

Dublin protest over EU-IMF bailout...

Thousands of people are expected to participate in a protest in Dublin this afternoon against the EU-IMF austerity programme.

The protest, organised by the Enough Campaign, is being supported by trade unions, TDs, political organisations and groups seeking to maintain education and health services in their areas.

Participants are scheduled to meet at Parnell Square at 2pm.

The Enough Campaign said suggestions that the State’s implementation of the EU-IMF austerity programme was going well were badly misplaced.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett, an organiser of the march, said he expected a good number of people who were “enraged” by the austerity programme to take part.

"It is absolutely mystifying how the EU-IMF delegations 'approval' of the Government’s implementation of austerity in this country is being portrayed by the government and some commentators as a 'good news' story," he said.

"We are absolutely determined to mobilise mass opposition to this economic madness over the coming weeks and bring the spirit of Greek, Spanish and for that matter Egyptian style resistance to this country."

Earlier this week, the EU-IMF-ECB “troika” said that Ireland was “on track” and “well financed” after the third quarterly review of the €82 billion bailout.

Ireland’s borrowing costs would be lower and there would be “good prospects” of returning to the bonds markets if it weren’t for wider euro zone crisis, the troika said.

“The problems that Ireland faces are not just an Irish problem,” said IMF deputy director Ajai Chopra. “They're a shared European problem. What we need and what's lacking so far is a European solution to a European problem.”

(Protest: Saturday 16th July at Parnell Square at 2pm)

Report - Irish Times

Friday, 15 July 2011

Irish Not Top Home Buyers In Europe...

Figures dispel myth that we're top home buyers in Europe...

HOME ownership in Ireland is in line with the average in the European Union -- debunking the myth that home ownership here is among the highest in the EU.

The Spanish, Greeks, Portuguese and people in a host of former Eastern Bloc states all have higher ownership levels than Ireland, figures obtained by the Irish Independent show.

Some 74pc of Irish people own their own home. This is in line with the average for the 27 members of the EU.

Ireland ranks 18th in home ownership levels out of 31 countries looked by the the EU statistics agency Eurostat. The figures are for 2009, the latest available.

The highest home ownership is in Romania (96pc), followed by Lithuania (91pc), Hungary (89pc), Slovakia (89pc), Estonia (87pc), Latvia (87pc), Bulgaria (87pc), Norway (85pc), Iceland (84pc), Spain (83pc), Slovenia (81pc), Malta (79pc), Czech Republic (77pc) and Greece (76pc).

Ireland comes in at 73.7pc, while 70pc of people in the UK own their own homes.

Irish home ownership levels have dropped from a high of 79pc in the 1990s to just short of 74pc at the start of this century, according to a new book on the economy, 'Sins Of The Father' by Conor McCabe.

Despite this, many commentators continue to insist that Irish ownership of homes is the highest in the EU, according to Mr McCabe.

"Ireland was bucking European trends with a declining level of home ownership, yet the popular narrative has Ireland with the highest rate of home ownership in Europe and, unlike the rest of Europe, obsessed with owning their homes," he said.

Meanwhile, a leading housing economist says house prices here will fall from an average of less than €200,000 to €150,000.

We are just three quarters of the way to the end of the correction, Ronan Lyons of said.

The economist said that traditionally in this country it took 3.5 times the average household income to buy a house.

But even though house prices have fallen by up to 50pc, buying a house still takes between 4.5 and five times the average household income.

"This suggests that the typical house price in Ireland now should be of the order of €150,000, or a fall of 60pc from peak," he said.

House price falls have been far sharper in Dublin than in the rest of the country, suggesting that severe price falls are to come outside the capital, he added.

Report by Charlie Weston - Irish Independent

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Irish Debt Is Junk...

Irish debt cut to 'junk' status as euro zone crisis deepens...

Irish debt was cut to “junk” status by credit rating agency Moody’s, last night, hours after the Minister for Finance said that measures to aid Greece proposed by euro zone finance ministers on Monday night would benefit Ireland.

Moody’s appeared to contradict the Minister last night saying the measures being contemplated for Greece had increased the chance that Ireland might default on some of its debts if it has to seek another bailout from Europe.

The resulting downgrade is expected to lead to a sell-off in Irish bonds when markets open today as many lenders will only hold bonds considered to be investment grade by privately owned rating agencies such as Moody’s.

Bloxham analysts said the downgrade would prompt some forced selling by investors who are not allowed to hold non-investment grade securities, and would be dropped from some of the bond indices.

“In our view this latest move by Moody’s is cynical and manipulative coming just two days before the EU/IMF in their latest quarterly review are expected to give Ireland the thumbs up in meeting all its bailout targets,” analysts wrote in a note.

“The bottom line is that the credit ratings agencies have far too much power but policymakers and regulators only have themselves to blame.”

A significant sell-off in Irish bonds will fuel the already growing anxiety that the debt crisis is spiralling out of control and spreading into major European economies.

Italian and Spanish borrowing costs hit their highest level for 14 years yesterday as euro zone leaders made plans for an emergency summit on Friday to resolve the ongoing Greek crisis, which is seen as the weakest link in the euro chain.

The proposed meeting follows the talks on Monday at which a number of proposals were discussed, most significantly the possibility that Greece would be allowed default on some of its debt. One possibility is a German debt-swap plan in which investors would be urged to exchange Greek bonds for debt whose maturity is seven years longer.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said yesterday that the reforms proposed on Monday would reduce the cost of Ireland’s bailout, provide scope to cut the State’s burden and ease its return to private markets.

But, citing the fresh developments in the Greek situation, Moody’s said in a statement last night there was an increasing possibility that the involvement of private investors (in effect a default) would be required as a precondition for any new aid for Ireland.

It also noted that “Ireland has shown a strong commitment to fiscal consolidation and has, to date, delivered on its programme objectives, the rating agency nevertheless notes that implementation risks remain significant, particularly in light of the continued weakness in the Irish economy”.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland , Minister for Enterprise Richard Bruton said the downgrade would make recovery more difficult, but said Ireland had been caught up in the agency's view of the European solutions to the debt crisis.

"I think it's frustrating and it makes our job more difficult," he said.

"But I think the important thing to point out is that it doesn't reflect in any way a failure on the part of Government to meet its obligations or any downgrade in the Irish economy.

"What it reflects is uncertainty that has emerged as a result of different options that are being considered in Europe."

Goodbody economist Juliet Tennent said the reasons given for cutting the rating were in line with those cited for Portugal’s downgrade last week and “highlights the fact that the downgrades have more to do with the design and the structure of the ESM than the dynamics of the underlying economies”.

“The downgrading of Ireland’s credit rating to junk by Moody’s will further sour sentiment towards the sovereign (and indeed the euro zone) and while one would expect that the majority of ratings sensitive deposits have already left the banking system and that the majority of institutional investors are already underweight sovereign debt, it does make the road back to a self funding position for Ireland and the banks more difficult,” she wrote in a note.

While Ireland still carries investment-grade ratings with rival agencies Standard Poor’s and Fitch, the downgrade creates big new obstacle for the Government’s plan to exit the EU-IMF bailout programme and start borrowing from debt markets again next year. Only investors with a very large appetite for risk buy junk-rated bonds given the higher implied risk that the issuer may default, or fail to pay back the debt.

A spokesman for the Department of Finance said: “This is a disappointing development and it is completely at odds with the recent views of other rating agencies.”

The spokesman said it was “difficult to see” how the downgrade reflects moves to enhance the fund’s flexibility expressed by euro zone finance ministers on Monday night.

The spokesman for EU economics commissioner Olli Rehn said the commission regrets Moody’s decision. “It contrasts very much with the recent data, which support a return to GDP growth this year, and the determined implementation of the programme by the Irish government, which has taken strong ownership of it.”

Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said the downgrade was a wake-up call to the Government and to Ireland's European partners.

“The Government’s failure to acknowledge that Ireland’s debt levels are unsustainable and its inaction in reducing those levels have placed us in this position," he said.

“This Government is sleepwalking Ireland into a second bailout."

The downgrade came at the end of a day on which EU internal markets commissioner, Michel Barnier, said he would propose “stiff measures” in November to curb the power of the agencies. “We were surprised that the agencies would downgrade a country without any warning,” he said, referring to a similar downgrade of Portugal last week.

But Ireland's downgrade isn't sufficient for Irish bonds to be removed from the Markit iBoxx Euro Area Sovereign Index, RBC Capital Markets said.

IBoxx uses an average rating based on a score system comprised of assessments from Moody's, Standard and Poor's and Fitch Ratings, Norbert Aul, a European rates strategist in London, said. Because it's rated higher at the other agencies, Ireland will remain above iBoxx's rating threshold.

News leaked yesterday about a summit before EU leaders agreed through diplomatic channels to meet in Brussels, putting them under pressure to calm markets by quickly agreeing a new rescue plan for Greece.

The arrangements for the meeting were not finalised last night and senior figures stressed that considerable technical work would have to be done to set up a second rescue package within three days.

Finance ministers moved late on Monday to drop their explicit pledge to ensure the effort does not lead to a “selective default” on Greek debt.

However, the European Central Bank remains steadfastly opposed on grounds that an inevitable default rating on a debt-swap deal would fan volatility in markets. Any summit on Friday would coincide with the publication of stress test results on European banks, an exercise designed to foster confidence in the effort to tackle the debt crisis.

Report - Irish Times

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Ghost Estates For Unemployed...

UK firm in talks over ghost estates project...

A BRITISH firm that wants to use ghost estates to train unemployed apprentices is to meet with the Minister for Housing and the Housing and Sustainable Communities Agency tomorrow.

Equity Share Partnership (ESP) wants to use the unfinished properties to provide training and housing for the unemployed.

It has begun negotiations with Nama, Fás and the banks to complete two pilot projects on ghost estates in Bandon, Co Cork, and Kilminchy, Co Laois.

The company said it has financial backing to invest €10 million in the schemes and it hopes to begin work in December.

The firm plans to buy the unfinished estates and take on apprentices and unemployed skilled and unskilled workers to complete them. Apprentices will continue to claim unemployment assistance, but they will be given the training necessary to complete their apprenticeships.

Other workers will continue to claim unemployment assistance but, in return for their labour, they will be given a 20 per cent equity stake in one of the properties they have worked on. They will also have an option to rent the property and buy it later, retaining their equity for five years.

The firm will have an 80 per cent stake in the properties and will make its profit from their sale.

Michael Litman from ESP said they will be looking for unemployed people who are also in need of housing. He said they had successfully completed a similar project in Cambridgeshire and were very hopeful that the model would work in Ireland.

John O’Connor, chief executive of the Housing and Sustainable Communities Agency, said the agency was very supportive of the proposals. “It is an excellent idea if it can be made to work,” he said.

The ideal would be if unemployed people living in the same locality as the unfinished estates, who were interested in buying their own home, got involved in the building work, he said.

There could also be a role for local authorities. The State would gain by seeing the estates completed without outlay, he added.

Report by FIONA GARTLAND - Irish Times

Monday, 11 July 2011

Irish Holiday Home Prices Slashed...

Prices for self-catering holiday homes have been slashed by up to 60 per cent - despite July and August being peak season - because letting agents cannot rent them otherwise.

Dream Holiday Homes and self, two of the country’s largest such firms, last week reported significant cuts in prices and a surge in business for special-offer rates. managing director Mary Carr said that ‘‘never before in high season have rates been cut to such a degree’’.

‘‘Houses for seven days in the likes of Rosslare or Kenmare, which have always been popular, have dropped from €950 or €850 per week to €750 or €650.

‘‘We have deals for inland accommodation in places like Westmeath for €299 a week and in hotels like Breaffy House [Mayo] for €134 per person sharing for two adults’ bed and breakfast with one evening meal, with two kids eating and staying for free.

‘‘Local attractions and businesses are all offering discounts, and people are more price-conscious than ever. Instead of seven days, many are looking to stay for just three or four days," she said.

Dream Holiday Homes is the letting agent for 8,000 properties - many in tax-break schemes - and nine out of ten deals it has closed in recent weeks are special offers. Marketing manager Lisa Argue said that people were ‘‘very much booking at the last minute’’.

‘‘We have reduced some prices by 50 to 60 per cent, because people are not willing to spend as much.

You can get a house in Doolin or Lisdoonvarna this week for €399."

Brian Farrell, a director of Harry Farrell and Sons Mobile Homes, said that business this year had been ‘‘terrible’’ because nobody wanted to buy new mobile homes, and those who would usually trade up after six years were not selling on now.

The company also has caravan sites in Waterford, Wexford, Kerry and Clare.

‘‘We are getting people in their late 30s and 40s looking for three bed secondhand mobile homes, which are now going for about €15,000, as they see it as a long-term holiday investment. However, there is little about to sell on.

We won’t fill the caravan parks this summer, but we’ll do okay. In the downturn, people are using their mobile homes more."

Report by By Nicola Cooke - Sunday Business Post

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Allsop Space July 7 Auction Results...

Auction Results for the 87 Lots sorted by Lot Number

Lots: 1-87

1 Vacant Flat Dublin 1 Sold €148,000
2 Investment Flat Blackrock Sold €270,000
3 Investment Freehold Building Clondalkin Sold €139,000
4 Investment Freehold House Stepaside Sold €146,000
5 Investment Flat Dublin 7 Sold €177,000
6 Vacant Freehold House Castlebar Sold €87,000
7 Vacant Leasehold House Dublin 3 Sold €67,000
8 Investment Flat Dublin 1 Sold €145,000
9 Investment Freehold Building Bray Sold €220,000
10 Vacant Freehold House Stillorgan Sold €280,000
11 Vacant Freehold House Tyrrelstown Sold €129,000
12 Land/Site Blackrock Sold €66,000
13 Vacant Freehold House Thomastown Sold €50,000
14 Investment Freehold House Kilkenny City Sold €440,000
15 Investment Flat Blackrock Sold €285,000
16 Investment Flat Dublin 9 Sold €55,000
17 Investment Freehold Building Drogheda Available €290,000
18 Vacant Flat Arklow Sold €71,000
19 Vacant Flat Dublin 1 Sold €132,000
20 Vacant Freehold House Dublin 4 Sold €2.325M
21 Investment Dublin 12 Sold €54,000
22 Investment Dublin 12 Sold €73,000
23 Vacant Freehold House Ferrybank Sold €95,000
24 Land/Site Land at Killurly Withdrawn
25 Vacant Freehold House Tyrrelstown Sold €124,000
26 Vacant Freehold House Arklow Sold €120,000
27 Land/Site Rathfeigh Sold €170,000
28 Vacant Freehold Building Wexford Withdrawn
29 Vacant Freehold Building Callan Sold €50,000
30 Investment Freehold House Naas Sold €144,000
31 Vacant Freehold House Abbeyleix Sold €109,000
32 Vacant Freehold House Tinryland Sold €71,000
33 Vacant Freehold House Ferrybank Sold €110,000
34 Vacant Freehold House Innishannon Sold €160,000
35 Vacant Freehold House Kells Sold €67,000
36 Investment Freehold Building Dublin 1 Available €485,000
37 Vacant Freehold House Lombardstown Sold €70,000
38 Vacant Freehold House Tullow Sold €117,500
39 Vacant Freehold House Dublin 8 Sold €71,000
40 Investment Freehold House Arklow Sold €120,000
41 Investment Stepaside Withdrawn
42 Investment Stepaside Withdrawn
43 Investment Freehold House Abbeyleix Sold €112,000
44 Vacant Freehold House Innishannon Sold €148,000
45 Investment Flat Dublin 1 Sold €134,000
46 Vacant Freehold House Stepaside Sold €153,000
47 Vacant Flat Enniscorthy Sold €70,000
48 Vacant Freehold House Thomastown Sold €48,000
49 Investment Waterford Sold €232,500
50 Investment Freehold House Naas Sold €137,000
51 Vacant Freehold House Arklow Sold €149,000
52 Vacant Freehold House Schull Sold €560,000
53 Investment Freehold Building Dublin 9 Sold €377,500
54 Vacant Freehold Building Dublin 6 Sold €450,000
55 Investment Flat Dublin 1 Sold €192,000
56 Investment Flat Waterford City Sold €53,000
57 Vacant Freehold House Galway City Sold €177,500
58 Investment Freehold House Castlerea Available €75,000
59 Investment Freehold Building Longford Sold €322,500
60 Vacant Freehold House Ferrybank Sold €117,000
61 Investment Freehold House Camolin Sold €350,000
62 Vacant Freehold House Dublin 4 Sold €635,000
63 Investment Freehold House Bandon Sold €240,000
64 Vacant Freehold House Buncrana Sold €50,000
65 Vacant Freehold Building Charleville Sold €90,000
66 Vacant Freehold House Killiney Sold €325,000
67 Investment Dublin 24 Sold €250,000
68 Investment Freehold Building Ballygarvan Sold €155,000
69 Vacant Freehold Building Portumna Sold €270,000
70 Vacant Freehold Building Cashel Sold €49,000
71 Vacant Freehold House Enniscorthy Sold €77,000
72 Vacant Freehold House Murrintown Sold €100,000
73 Vacant Freehold House Lacken Wood Sold €103,000
74 Land/Site Dundalk Sold €85,000
75 Vacant Freehold House Claremorris Sold €91,000
76 Vacant Freehold Building Scotstown Sold €66,000
77 Investment Dungarvan Available €115,000
78 Investment Freehold Building Wexford Sold €219,000
79 Vacant Freehold House Dublin 9 Sold €710,000
80 Investment Freehold Building Cork City Sold €405,000
81 Land/Site Ennis Available €500,000
82 Investment Flat Dublin 1 Sold €262,500
83 Investment Tallaght Sold €135,000
84 Vacant Freehold House Goleen Sold €135,000
85 Vacant Freehold House Kilternan Sold €567,500
86 Investment Tallaght €70,000
87 Vacant Freehold House Kells €25,000

Mass Auctions Here To Stay?

TODAY’S Allsop/Space auction in Dublin’s Shelbourne hotel will be an interesting test of the longevity of the mass auction and whether it’s here to stay or a mere passing fad. Savills Ireland is getting in on the act in September with the promise of around 100 investment properties. with low reserves and prime locations in Dublin.

Not wanting to be left out, auction specialist Merlin Group – better known for its car auctions – announced its move into residential property earlier this week. It is getting properties from banks and says it already has 40 for its first big auction in the Burlington Hotel in Dublin in early autumn.

Allsop/Space might find it hard today to match the drama and impact of their – and the country’s – first – discounted auction back in April, which saw €14.8 million worth of deals struck in just six hours on vastly discounted properties in prime locations.

This time around it has 87 distressed properties around the country with reserves as low as €40,000 on some houses outside the capital.

In Dublin there are a few tantalising propositions including two partially finished architect-designed houses on Killiney Hill Road, Co Dublin with a reserve of €200,000 and a five-bedroom house on Upper Kilmacud Road, Co Dublin with a reserve of €275,000 or a three-bedroom house on Iona Road in Glasnevin with a reserve of €360,000.

The failure of the recent mass auction in west Cork by GMAC Properties – when only two of 64 properties sold at auction – casts a shadow. but Ed Carey, an auctioneer and chairman of the SCSI residential property group says he believes the failure of the Cork auction lay in the fact that the reserves were too high.

“We need to stop focusing on properties being discounted from their peak prices, because peak prices are no longer relevant.”

He says the success of the Allsop and Space auction in April shows there is a demand, and that what is stopping many people for purchasing is the lack of finance “which is some comfort. There is a market for the right property at right price and at the end of the day that’s all people are looking for”.

Report - Irish Times

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

IMF & EU's €9bn Profit On Irish Bailout...

Noonan spells out high cost of our rescue...

THE IMF and EU will make a €9bn profit over the lifetime of the bailout loans to Ireland.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan last night revealed for the first time just how much the international agencies will make if the €85bn in loans are drawn down in total.

The British government is also entitled to send auditors and accountants here to check the books as part of its bilateral deal to Ireland, the Irish Independent has learned.

It is also insisting that if Ireland ever leaves the euro the UK must be repaid in full and in sterling -- and not in any new Irish currency.

The developments come as the IMF-EU bailout team arrives back in Dublin today to begin the latest examination on whether the Government is meeting the terms of the €85bn programme of aid.

The progress of public sector reform and changes to wage-setting systems for low earners will be discussed in talks with IMF-EU bailout team.

And it also appears likely the Government will have to seek an extra €400m in savings in December's budget if the official outlook for economic growth worsens.

Mr Noonan said yesterday that he may have to slash €4bn from Government spending next year to meet the IMF-EU budget deficit target, rather than the €3.6bn previously flagged.

He said the international agencies want the deficit to be reduced to 8.6pc of gross domestic product in 2012.

The present plan pencils in €3.6bn of savings to meet this target but also relies on high economic growth to push down the deficit.

But the Finance Minister gave no indication that the Government was near achieving a 1pc reduction in the interest rate on the loans, which would save €150m per annum.

Mr Noonan said France and Ireland continued to disagree about proposals on the corporation tax base.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore made a keynote speech on Ireland's relationship with the EU this week without mentioning a cut to the bailout interest rate.

Mr Noonan also revealed for the first time just how much the international agencies will make if the €85bn in loans are drawn down.

When all the loans are put together, Mr Noonan said: "The total margin applying under existing arrangements could be of the order of €9bn over the period."

Although the Government has another three months to show the reforms in the public sector and for low-paid workers are being delivered on, the pace to date is expected to be flagged in talks with the IMF-EU team.

Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton's contentious labour market reforms will be touched upon in talks over the coming weeks with the IMF-EU team -- a move expected to strengthen the minister's hand in his negotiations with the Labour Party.

Mr Bruton's proposals to end Sunday premium pay were not discussed by the Cabinet yesterday. The final decision on the proposals will take into consideration both the IMF-EU team's views and a High Court case challenging the constitutionality of the joint labour committee agreements.

The team from the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank will begin their latest three-month review of the €85bn international bailout today.

Mr Noonan said he and his officials will be discussing a range of economic and budgetary issues, including the current outlook for 2012.

"On the review due to take place next week, we have not signalled any major items for renegotiation. However, during the quarter in the run-up to the budget there will be items for renegotiation because the manner in which we will make the correction in the budget may not accord with what is in the memorandum of understanding," he said.

"As long as our approach is fiscally neutral, we will be in a position to substitute one measure for another," he added.

Mr Noonan said the previous review agreed "major changes", including the jobs initiative, an expenditure review and a review from 2012 to 2015.

The minister said the programme negotiated by the previous government was to run straight through to 2014, but "there is now a commitment to a review following the first two budgets, which is significant".

The IMF is expected to give the thumbs up to the Government's progress so far in meeting budgetary targets, recapitalising the banks and bringing in the jobs initiative.

As part of the €85bn bailout package, the British government is lending €3.5bn.

Report by Fionnan Sheahan, Emmet Oliver and Donal O'Donovan - Irish Independent

Monday, 4 July 2011

House Prices Tumble...

House prices continue to tumble despite faster selling time...

HOUSE prices are continuing to plummet with asking prices now as much as 47pc lower than the peak just four years ago.

A new report from property website says that although homes are selling faster, prices are continuing to fall.

And the findings are confirmed in a separate report from, albeit with variations in the average asking price for a house. says the average asking price in June was €196,000, down 47pc from the peak.

The survey says the average asking price nationally is now €249,000, 40pc down on peak.

Prices of new homes are now back at the 2001 level, adds, with average asking prices of €239,000 in Cork, €234,500 in Galway, €185,000 in Limerick, while the Dublin figure is €286,000. said that Dublin asking prices fell by 5.26pc over the past three months, and now the typical figure is half of what it was during the peak in 2007.

South County Dublin remains the most expensive area in the county, averaging at just over €371,000, down 5.7pc. Dublin city centre is the cheapest, with prices at €186,222, down 3.9pc.

Cork, Galway and Limerick cities also fell between 5pc and 6pc over the same period.

"The second quarter of 2011 has seen one of the sharpest adjustments in prices since the correction started four years ago," said Ronan Lyons of

"Nonetheless, over half of properties posted for sale in Dublin at the start of the year are now sold or sale has been agreed."

The price drops are the highest since started compiling statistics in 2005.

Despite the price falls, it is taking less time to sell a house. Typical time on the market fell by four weeks, with a four-month average in Dublin and 14 months in Connacht/Ulster.

Report by Paul Melia - Irish Independent

Friday, 1 July 2011

Dublin House Prices Down 60pc...

HOUSE prices in Dublin have gone into a 60pc freefall from their peak and are now at levels last seen in 2002.

The cost of buying a home in Dublin fell by 16pc in June compared to the same period last year.

In real terms, Dublin house prices have fallen by 60.2pc, from the peak of the market in 2006, according to Sherry FitzGerald estate agents.

The national market has corrected by 55.2pc and the average cost of a second-hand house in Ireland dropped by 15.3pc. First-time buyers remain the most active sector in the market, accounting for almost one-third of the properties traded in the year to date.

Chief economist Marian Finnegan with Sherry FitzGerald said the falls placed the Irish property recession as one of the most significant recessions in the post-war era.

"Accelerating deflation in the property market cycle is somewhat contradictory as the factors underpinning the market have strengthened with improved affordability and relatively tight supply, particularly for family homes in the urban centres," he said.

"However, the appetite for the volume of transactions required to stabilise the market is hampered by low consumer sentiment and a dysfunctional mortgage market."

Report - Evening Herald

Allsop Space July Auction Catalogue...

Auction Date: 7th July 2011
Auction Venue: The Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin 2
Another Allsop Space Auction of distressed properties coming up next Thursday. Here's the list of whats on offer...

Lots: 1-87
Lot Type Location Reserve Price will not exceed this figure
1Vacant FlatDublin 1€142,000
2Investment FlatBlackrock€202,000
3Investment Freehold BuildingClondalkin€120,000
4Investment Freehold HouseStepaside€102,500
5Investment FlatDublin 7€175,000
6Vacant Freehold HouseCastlebar€42,000
7Vacant Leasehold HouseDublin 3€62,000
8Investment FlatDublin 1€142,000
9Investment Freehold BuildingBray€150,000
10Vacant Freehold HouseStillorgan€275,000
11Vacant Freehold HouseTyrrelstown€97,500
13Vacant Freehold HouseThomastown€60,000
14Investment Freehold HouseKilkenny City€410,000
15Investment FlatBlackrock€222,000
16Investment FlatDublin 9€55,000
17Investment Freehold BuildingDrogheda€290,000
18Vacant FlatArklow€62,000
19Vacant FlatDublin 1€105,000
20Vacant Freehold HouseDublin 4€1.45M
21InvestmentDublin 12€42,000
22InvestmentDublin 12€42,000
23Vacant Freehold HouseFerrybank€79,000
24Land/SiteLand at Killurly€130,000
25Vacant Freehold HouseTyrrelstown€97,500
26Vacant Freehold HouseArklow€123,000
28Vacant Freehold BuildingWexford€102,500
29Vacant Freehold BuildingCallan€50,000
30Investment Freehold HouseNaas€92,000
31Vacant Freehold HouseAbbeyleix€100,000
32Vacant Freehold HouseTinryland€40,000
33Vacant Freehold HouseFerrybank€79,000
34Vacant Freehold HouseInnishannon€132,500
35Vacant Freehold HouseKells€22,000
36Investment Freehold BuildingDublin 1€485,000
37Vacant Freehold HouseLombardstown€102,000
38Vacant Freehold HouseTullow€95,000
39Vacant Freehold HouseDublin 8€55,000
40Investment Freehold HouseArklow€123,000
43Investment Freehold HouseAbbeyleix€100,000
44Vacant Freehold HouseInnishannon€132,500
45Investment FlatDublin 1€105,000
46Vacant Freehold HouseStepaside€102,500
47Vacant FlatEnniscorthy€30,000
48Vacant Freehold HouseThomastown€60,000
50Investment Freehold HouseNaas€112,000
51Vacant Freehold HouseArklow€122,000
52Vacant Freehold HouseSchull€270,000
53Investment Freehold BuildingDublin 9€215,000
54Vacant Freehold BuildingDublin 6€495,000
55Investment FlatDublin 1€182,000
56Investment FlatWaterford City€35,000
57Vacant Freehold HouseGalway City€50,000
58Investment Freehold HouseCastlerea€75,000
59Investment Freehold BuildingLongford€220,000
60Vacant Freehold HouseFerrybank€79,000
61Investment Freehold HouseCamolin€250,000
62Vacant Freehold HouseDublin 4€395,000
63Investment Freehold HouseBandon€280,000
64Vacant Freehold HouseBuncrana€52,000
65Vacant Freehold BuildingCharleville€100,000
66Vacant Freehold HouseKilliney€200,000
67InvestmentDublin 24€250,000
68Investment Freehold BuildingBallygarvan€100,000
69Vacant Freehold BuildingPortumna€50,000
70Vacant Freehold BuildingCashel€52,000
71Vacant Freehold HouseEnniscorthy€42,500
72Vacant Freehold HouseMurrintown€95,000
73Vacant Freehold HouseLacken Wood€90,000
75Vacant Freehold HouseClaremorris€70,000
76Vacant Freehold BuildingScotstown€30,000
78Investment Freehold BuildingWexford€220,000
79Vacant Freehold HouseDublin 9€360,000
80Investment Freehold BuildingCork City€350,000
82Investment FlatDublin 1€182,000
84Vacant Freehold HouseGoleen€100,000
85Vacant Freehold HouseKilternan€455,000
87Vacant Freehold HouseKells€25,000

Auction List from Allsop Space Online Catalogue -