Thursday, 17 May 2012

Ten Properties That Say It All...

The legacy of the boom and the subsequent property collapse have come home to roost in 2012.

This is the year the Nama deferred payment scheme was launched, a ghost estate was sold at a distressed property auction, and the country’s most expensive property failed to sell despite a 74 per cent price drop.

Here are 10 properties that sum up where we are now...

1. Walford, Shrewsbury Road
Now that the madness of the property boom is a distant memory, it has become apparent that not only was Walford on Shrewsbury Road in Dublin 4 never worth the €58 million paid for it in 2005, it has failed to find a buyer for it, even at the radically reduced price of €15 million. The Edwardian house on 1.8 acres went on the market in September 2011 but was recently withdrawn, presumably because it failed to meet the guide price.

When it was sold in 2005, the cachet of the road and the development potential drove rich individuals into a frenzy, pushing the price substantially over the €35 million guide. Bought by an entity known as Matsack Nominees Ltd, the beneficial owner was known to be Gayle Killilea, wife of property developer Se├ín Dunne. The couple now live in the US.

2. Humewood Castle Estate
Dubbed the “Walford of the country estate market” because of the stratospheric price paid during the boom and its dramatic fall in value, Humewood Castle Estate in Kiltegan, Co Wicklow, a gothic mansion on 427 acres, is now asking a bargain basement €8 million through Sherry FitzGerald and Christie’s International Real Estate. In 2006, developer John Lally of Lalco bought the estate for €25 million. His ambitious plans for a €250 million luxury golf estate never came to fruition and now Nama is hoping to tempt investors with the reduced price tag.

3. The Veterinary College site, Ballsbridge
Amid the developer frenzy to snap up trophy properties, Ray Grehan’s company Glenkerrin made headlines in 2005 when it paid the highest price ever for a commercial site; an eye-watering €171.5 million for the 2.02-acre Dublin 4 site. The site has recently been valued at a mere €20 million: that’s a drop of 88 per cent. Nama is continuing to pursue Grehan, who has been living in London since May of last year and who was declared bankrupt by the High Court there on December 30th. One industry source, who declined to be named, reckons Nama will hold off putting the site on the market for two to three years, in the hope that values will rally significantly. “I don’t think the site would attract serious interest in the current market,” says the source.

4. Treasury Building, Lower Grand Canal Street, Dublin 2
When Treasury Holdings redeveloped the old Boland’s Mills as a state-of-the-art office block at the start of the 1990s, little did it know that one of its future tenants would be Nama, with which it is currently embroiled in a nasty legal battle. The company has begun proceedings against Nama and is contesting the constitutionality of the legislation governing its activities. It is understood that Treasury, which is jointly controlled by businessmen Richard Barrett and Johnny Ronan, has made an application to the High Court on both matters. This relates to Nama’s decision in January to appoint joint receivers to certain assets secured against loans of more than €1 billion owed to the agency.

5. Woodlands, Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan
Woodlands is one of the many unfinished estates around the country. A four-acre part of the estate with only three houses built sold to a builder at the Allsop Space auction of distressed property this month. It fetched €122,500: more than three times the reserve and has prompted speculation that this could herald the public sale of more unfinished estates to third parties.

Lorcan Sirr, a lecturer in the school of real estate and construction economics at DIT, says he hopes the builder who bought it has a long-term plan. “Given that Co Cavan currently has a housing oversupply of 4,254 units it could be a very long time indeed before the property market there recovers.”
Robert Hoban, director of auctions at Allsop Space, says selling to a third party is just one of a number of options to address the issue of a reported 2,000 unfinished developments in Ireland. “The successful sale will hopefully aid those charged with calculating the value of these schemes.”

6. Sandhouse Hotel, Donegal
In March the sale of the Sandhouse hotel in Rossnowlagh, Co Donegal, for €650,000 to Paul Diver, its manager of 20 years, captured the public imagination because its value had dropped to such an extent that it was cheaper than the average semi-d in Dublin 4. The 55-bedroom hotel overlooking Donegal Bay, which was on the private treaty market for two years, was once asking €4.5 million, and was sold under the instruction of its liquidator KPMG.

On the day, Diver said: “I just can’t believe it. It’s a total adrenaline rush. It’s been a long, long road but we’ve made it.” According to Robert Hoban, director of auctions at Allsop Space, while the licensed and leisure sector has been going through a very challenging phase, the sale of the Sandhouse hotel, and the nine other auction sales in the leisure sector “has established that there is a marketplace, at a sensible price”.

7. Priory Hall, Donaghmede, Dublin 13
There is a chink of light at the end of the tunnel for residents of Priory Hall in Donaghmede as AIB, one of the main banks providing mortgages on properties there, has said it will participate in talks aimed at resolving the residents’ housing and loan problems. The residents of the 187-unit apartment built by developer Thomas McFeely, who has been declared bankrupt, were evacuated last October when the development was declared a fire hazard.

Lorcan Sirr of DIT believes Priory Hall could be the tip of the iceberg as a result of inadequate enforcement of the building regulations: “Self-certification by professionals is worth the paper it is written on only if the penalties for getting it wrong are sufficiently tough on the professional. Dublin City Council’s dilution of its traditional civic duty to look after its people by mostly not inspecting developments, but just designs, must also be noted,” says Sirr.

8. Loughmore Square, Killeen Castle
Last week Nama launched a deferred payment initiative on 115 properties around Ireland, including luxury homes on a golf course at Killeen Castle in Co Meath where prices have reduced by as much as 80 per cent since the scheme was launched in 2008.

It’s understood 17 of the 18 Co Meath homes are now sale agreed. Originally built as investment properties and holiday homes by Castlethorn Homes builder, Joe O’Reilly, who also developed Dundrum Town Centre, the three-beds were originally priced from €1.2 million.The same homes sold last week for about €270,000; one four-bed was asking €360,000.

The Nama deferred payment initiative sees us enter an era where people who buy into these schemes will be protected against negative equity for five years. Elsewhere DNG has sold two units out of four under the same scheme at Carrickmines Manor in Dublin 18.

9. Elysian Tower, Cork
The 81m tall Elysian Tower on Eglinton Street in Cork’s docklands cost €150 million to build on the site of a former postal sortingoffice and was launched with great fanfare in 2008 by developer Michael O’Flynn. Hailed as a “beacon of light” for a “new dawn”, it is one of the tallest buildings in the country and one-bed apartments went on sale for €375,000, while penthouses were between €1.4 million and €2 million.
However the timing of the launch, just as the property market had gone into freefall, couldn’t have been worse . The “idle tower” as it’s known locally, is now in the hands of Nama and stands largely empty, with fewer than a quarter of the 211 residential units occupied.

10. St Matthias Wood, Killiney, Co Dublin
We hear about family homes being repossessed but don’t often get to see it unfold on camera. Whether you think Brendan and Asta Kelly stage-managed their eviction from their Killiney home to garner sympathy or that they were the unfortunate victims of the property crash, it marked the start of the publicised eviction.
The Kellys originally purchased the house in 2004 for €3.2 million, with a €2.2 million mortgage from Irish Nationwide Building Society, now IBRC, and built a large property portfolio of about 21 properties. The couple last made a mortgage payment on their Killiney home in 2009.

Report - EDEL MORGAN - Irish Times

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