The big property news stories of the week – on the residential side at least – came out of Minister Eoghan Murphy’s housing summit (and that’s without comment on any person changed to the railings of the Custom House). Most of that news has been shared through our platforms already so here is a quick round-up of the other industry news that you might have missed this week:
State to CPO private homes
On the front page of the Sunday Independent Philip Ryan writes exclusively ‘Forced sale of vacant homes gets go-ahead’. This refers to the controversial measure by the State to potentially acquire more than 180,000 vacant residential properties by way of compulsory purchase order (CPO). This is the latest initiative in the most recent government strategy to resolve the housing crisis. This is quite a radical way to use legislation that was designed to access lands needed to facilitate new roads nationally and key infrastructure. The measure is expected to be used on properties that have been vacant for more than 12 months, which seems like much too short a period of vacancy to warrant CPO given our lengthy planning process. Apparently the Attorney General Seamus Woulfe has taken the view that the CPO of vacant properties is not a breach of the personal property rights of the citizen under the constitution. It’s been almost two decades since I studied Constitutional Law, however, I look forward to seeing the challenges of private property owners to this. The first row-back I foresee will likely be on the vacancy period, perhaps up to three years.
Ireland’s ‘lost generation’ returns
Of the estimated 300,000 who left Ireland after the economic crash, up to 400 recent emigrants are now returning to Ireland every week, “cash rich” and ready to buy a home in Ireland. Mark O’Regan writes that these ‘Returning emigrants add to housing pressure’ (which is a tad unfair given they are ready to give the country a chance again). Most are aged between 35 and 50, and are returning from the UK, Australia and the US.
Priorities must follow the numbers
Conor Skehan, outgoing chairman of the Housing Agency, has an excellent opinion piece on page 23 of the Sunday Independent, ‘Building new homes alone is not the answer to our housing issues’. His piece is in direct contradiction to Ronan Lyons’ article above, as Conor maintains that that annual demand is in the region of 20,000 to 25,000. The problem, according to him, is not the VAT level, or infrastructure, or land availability but rather the State’s priorities (or lack thereof). He recommends that housing priorities should follow the numbers i.e. 28% of homes are (performing) mortgaged properties; 20% are owned outright; 9% of homes are vacant; 8% is involuntary rented; 8% are holiday/second homes; 7% are local authority homes; 7% are restructured mortgages; 5% are voluntary independently rented; 4.3% are non-performing mortgages; 2.1% benefit from rent supplement; 2% are under the RAS and HAP scheme; 1.6% are controlled by AHBs; 0.2% is emergency accommodation; 0.01% is accounted for by rough sleepers. He further recommends a plan – such as Simon Coveney’s Rebuilding Ireland – and then sticking to that plan. It’s definitely worth a read in full.
Other property news
- Ronan Lyons questions how many family homes are needed to address our housing crisis, writing that ‘The inability of housing supply to meet demand should dominate Minister Eoghan Murphy’s thoughts’. The absolute minimum figure required annually is 40,000, however, real annual demand according to Davy might actually be closer to 50,000 when you factor in population increases, net migration and obsolescence.
- ‘Cowen and developers are not actually the devil’ concedes Brendan O’Connor. Well, it’s better late than never… O’Connor suggests that we need to be less ideologically rigid in finding solutions to the housing crisis.
- Nama is teaming up with Harcourt Developments (Pat Doherty) to provide up to 500 houses and apartments in Saggart. Planning has already been sought through the new fast-track process.
- There is a guide for first-time buyers in the property supplement of the Sunday Independent, giving an overview of new housing developments launching this autumn – speaking of which, Ballymore has come home, with the launch of Stoneleigh in Naas, County Kildare.
Next week sees the start of the new college year and – as a result of repeated calls from the State, housing organisations and the third level institutions themselves – many private home owners will become first-time landlords to first-time tenants under the rent a room scheme. Click here for our: Survival guide for owners and tenants
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.