Thursday, April 2, 2009

Quotes of the Week

"The stock of available second-hand properties has tightened noticeably, particularly in Dublin while the appetite for property as evidenced by viewing levels has increased. That said, consumer confidence levels remain low with a large proportion of potential purchasers reluctant to commit in the short term due to uncertainty in their own personal circumstances or concerns regarding the future market performance." (Marian Finnegan, Sherry FitzGerald)

"As such the emerging evidence appears to suggest that the property market is bottoming out and while we do not anticipate this will result in an immediate halt to price reductions it is likely that with hindsight this current period will be viewed as a period of over correction in the housing market." (Marian Finnegan, Sherry FitzGerald)

"It’s been extremely unfair of them to abandon the property market. Stamp duty has been a cash cow for the Government for years and they milked it and now it’s time to give property a break." (Conor Gallagher, Douglas Newman Good)

"They are not ready yet to bring back RPT (residential property tax). It is still being formulated. However, when they do introduce it they will have to offer a trade-off by reducing stamp duty." (Simon Ensor, Sherry FitzGerald)

"Would it [a stamp-duty holiday] kick-start the market? I’m not sure. Taking 7 per cent off the upper end, and 4 per cent off the middle range isn’t that enticing, with prices dropping as they are. Prudent negotiations will get you that discount anyway.” (Simon Ensor, Sherry FitzGerald)

"I think property has been marginalised in terms of revenue as a tax-take and I don’t think it’s relevant to this Budget." [It looks as if the market has corrected" itself pricewise and any "artificial remedies" will only boost it for a temporary period.] The main problem is the banking situation but that is not going to be resolved in this Budget. I believe the market will get going itself eventually of its own volition. The Government should sort out our banking issues which would solve problems in the property market and a few other things besides." (Des O'Malley jnr, Sherry FitzGerald O'Malley)

"It is important to have reached the bottom of the market before introducing any stimuli otherwise any positive benefit will be negligible. Once sales start to happen again the market will be indicating that is has reached a level where it is once again happy to do business." (John Cumisky, Cumisky Real Estate Alliance)

"They [the new breed of buyers making the most of a buyer's market] nearly have me on Zanex. The dread of my life at the moment is those BER certificates. They expect me to have one in my top pocket. It’s a head wrecker as they are standing in a period house with no insulation, single glazed windows and open fireplaces so the BER certificate is heading for an ‘F’ grade anyway." (Joe Kelly, Property Team JB Kelly)

"They knock on walls, stick screwdrivers through wallpapered walls and even remove skirting boards looking for damp. It’s a nightmare. And parents of first-time buyers are the worst. They come along to give their children advice but … one parent told me that the house was sinking and started rolling coins along the floor trying to prove that the property had subsided. Of course, once you see the clipboard, you know you’re in trouble and will be there for hours. They generally have a list of prepared questions and you can see that they have gone through it all before in at least 20 other houses. And some bring a compass to confirm the orientation. I’ve often thought that, if I could pick up a house and move it, I’d be a wealthy man!" (John Newcombe, Newcombe Estates)

"The number of times I am asked: ‘Have they gone bust or are they just divorcing?’ They then ask: ‘What was the price?’ Followed by: ‘What’s the price now?’ . Followed by: ‘And when will you be reducing the price again?’ They know their way around these days; they have all watched ‘Duncan’, and go around sucking their teeth and knocking on walls and tapping things. But, as Finnegan says: “We’re not complaining. It’s better to have know-alls viewing properties than no one at all." (Iain Finnegan, Finnegan Menton)

"Anecdotal information from our members would suggest that the level of investors is still quite strong which reaffirms that there is a strong mentality amongst people to invest in property but they are currently slow to move on this instinct due to the negative sentiment that still exists in the market. Introducing a property market stimulus would help bring stability, boost confidence and send a strong message that property remains a good long term investment. Owner-occupiers and investors alike are looking for signs of spring. Getting things moving again benefits all groups, not least the Government’s tax takings." (Paul Grimes, Chairman of Real Estate Alliance.)

"Our consultative group have recommended that if the government are serious about their green agenda, they should address this issue by giving buyers of A-rated homes a 10% grant towards buying." (Eimer O’Keeffe. CEO of Real Estate Alliance)

"Cash has dried up. Banks are not lending despite broadcasting ads saying they are. It’s difficult to get any money at the moment." (Tom Parlon, CIF)

"AIB has not changed its lending criteria. Each application is evaluated on its own merits with capacity to repay a key consideration." (AIB spokeperson)

"We call on the government to urgently find a mechanism to take account of the toxic assets of banks. Until the banking sector comes forward and declares its hand and honestly sets out those of its debts that are recoverable and those that are not, the economy will remain in a stranglehold. Without the details of the extent of these bad debts, funding from international lenders is at a standstill, stopping the flow of finance into the county and a vast array of lending to all parts of our economy, including small, medium and large businesses and the vital first time homebuyers' market. This stagnation is unacceptable; until the banks’ loan books are written down it is unlikely that we can move on from this phase." (Edward Carey, President of the IAVI)

"There has been a significant shift towards letting rather than sales activity, particularly in the latter half of 2008 and the year to date. We estimate that almost 90% of activity is now leasing rather than sales. Leasing activity took over as the dominant source of activity in 2008 and this is also expected to remain the trend for the rest of 2009 and into 2010." (Gavin Butler, Director Industrial Division, Savills)

"Mortgage holders on a fixed-rate mortgage have had to bear all these extra costs, cuts and charges too; yet their monthly mortgage bill has not reduced at all. One constituent told me his bank is charging him €14,000 to switch from his 12-year fixed-rate mortgage. It should be possible for the banks to offer a once-off penalty-free switch to existing customers. No-one is asking for a free ride, just a bit of fair play." (Roisin Shorthall, Labour spokesperson)

"The level of business has fallen away as the economy contracted, so the measures [layoffs] are simply a reflection of the current economic climate. We would hope that, by taking this action and taking a reduction in our salaries, it would reduce the need for any further action." (Angus Potterton, Savills)

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