Below is a weekly catch-up on the property stories that caught my attention and some of the highlights from the broadsheets today. As always, please do let me know if I have missed out on any interesting property news by emailing email@example.com.
(Apologies in advance for any typos, it’s difficult to get good help on a Sunday!)
Let’s talk about vacant homes
- Ronan Lyons’s column this week focuses on the persistent problem that we seem to have with vacant homes. He talks about the ‘Reusing Ireland’ initiative, which allows people to report vacant properties in and around the city. The aim is to identify thousands of empty homes around the city and vacant sites that might be developed. This is such an important initiative given the chronic lack of supply in Dublin and throughout major towns and cities around Ireland. We simply cannot afford to have properties lying idle.
- A few years ago, we worked with Dublin City Council on an initiative called City Limits, where we ran a competition asking people to submit photos and addresses of unused and underused sites around the city that might potentially be suitable for alternative types of housing, for example shipping containers or pods. We had a huge focus on rooftop buildings, but we could not find a city engineer brave enough to explore it! At the time, I think we offered an iPad as the price, not expecting a high level of engagement, however we were blown away by the response from the public and the media. What we realised was that members of the public are genuinely frustrated at seeing boarded-up sites or underused spaces within their communities. Often these spaces can be a breeding ground for anti-social behaviour, but this was not the main driver at all. People want to participate in the planning of their own communities and cities. While we have, broadly speaking, a public engagement policy across all local authorities in Ireland, it does not appear to be accessible or encouraging when it comes to inviting comments other than opposition.
- Here is the link to an article from the ie last year discussing the role that citizens must play when it comes to planning: http://www.thejournal.ie/readme/planners-are-trying-to-engage-with-us-and-we-have-a-duty-to-join-the-conversation-3339409-Apr2017/
- Also, the state has actively put a call out to owners are vacant properties that have potential use as homes through their Repair and Leasing scheme, yet the take up since 2016 has been remarkably poor. The scheme has been revised for 2018, to make it more attractive to property owners so it will be interesting to see if this makes a difference. South East-based estate agency KinsellaEstates.ie has circulated the following video across websites and portals in the US and the UK trying to communicate with the owners of abandoned, forgotten, derelict and otherwise vacant properties back home in Ireland:
Trending Property Stories
International Women’s Day
- Jane Winters, director of Industrial Relations with the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) and host of the C I F event marking International woman’s Day 2018 has an important commentary piece in the Sunday Independent today highlighting how the Irish construction sector needs to employ more women if the industry is to have a sustainable future.
- Here is a quick overview on ‘Pushing the #BuildingEquality Agenda’: https://propertydistrict.ie/pushing-buildingequality-agenda/
- 6 women constructing their careers in Kingspan: https://www.kingspan.com/group/news/news/6-women-constructing-their-careers-in-kingspan-iw
- This goes so far beyond gender equality as a moral issue, it is a business imperative globally. In fact, just a few hours ago, in a USA Today Exclusive, it was announced that Home Depot will donate $50M to train construction workers in order to address the severe labour shortage: https://amp-usatoday-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/amp.usatoday.com/amp/403659002
Other property news
- Dublin homeowners now need deposit of €140,000 to trade up – Affordability hit as property prices continue to rise and Central Bank lending rules bite: https://www-irishtimes-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/www.irishtimes.com/business/personal-finance/dublin-homeowners-now-need-deposit-of-140-000-to-trade-up-1.3415214?mode=amp
- Ireland needs 480,000 new homes by 2031, says peer-to-peer lender: Fewer than 9,500 properties built in 2017, according to Initiative Ireland: https://www-irishtimes-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/www.irishtimes.com/business/construction/ireland-needs-480-000-new-homes-by-2031-says-peer-to-peer-lender-1.3399544?mode=amp
- Dublin City Council to redevelop more than 6,000 flats – Plan to raise standards in capital’s housing complexes, some which are 80-plus years old: https://www-irishtimes-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/dublin-city-council-to-redevelop-more-than-6-000-flats-1.3418705?mode=amp
- Eamonn Ryan: Social housing on its own will not solve the housing crisis https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/eamon-ryan-social-housing-on-its-own-will-not-solve-the-housing-crisis-1.3414482?mode=amp&__twitter_impression=true
- The lead story on the front page of the Sunday Independent today is by Philip Ryan, who writes ‘60,000 face new property tax bills: But those paying already will escape major hikes in overhaul’. The story relates to plans by Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy to provide for additional funds by bringing homeowners, who were previously exempt, into the property tax system. The additional funds will be I located to local authorities who can show priority need. This is a controversial move given that local authorities are already frustrated about the allocation of property tax funds. The minister wants to centralise all property tax income and distribute it where needs are greater. This will inevitably mean that many local authorities will lose out on income generated from property within their own areas, which will not go down well among residents. A review of the proposed property tax system overhaul is taking place and we can expect further information by the end of the summer.
- You might recall that last week’s Sunday broadsheets carried conflicting stories about Cairn Homes. In the Sunday Business section of the Independent today, Gavin McLoughlin confirms that the building giant “plans to sell non-core portions of its land bank this year”. The plan is to off load sites with capacity for 40 to 60 units, as they prefer to focus on site with larger capacity at this time.
- In the same paper, John Reynolds writes that ‘Laing O’Rourke cuts losses amid debt talks with lenders: Contract wins help bolster builder’s turnaround aims’. Latest company earnings show €39 million underplaying profit – but after tax loss of €68 million – based on a turnover of €4.26 billion and an order book of approximately €10 billion.
- In The Sunday Times today Niall Brady writes that ‘Buyout giant KKR eyeing distressed home loans deal: Firm that inspired book Barbarians at the Gate is keen on mortgage-to-rent’. Apparently the US firm are looking to take over the homes of bank customers whose mortgages are unsustainable.
- In the same paper Brian Carey reports that a Sisk company “has moved to buy Swords Business Campus in North Dublin, home to regional airline city jet, in a deal estimated at €30 million“.
- Nick Webb reveals that John Roche (Amberwell) is seeking to build four houses on Brighton Road in Foxrock. Also, David McKeown, director at Kilsaran, has apparently purchased a seven-bedroom Edwardian house off Ailsbury Road for €2.5 million.
- In the property supplement of The Sunday Times, Move, there is an interesting feature on page 5 about downsizing. “Moving out of the family home is a fresh start, not an outhouse for old age“ writes David Capener. This is a particularly relevant concept right now and one that certainly needs to be explored; however, we are still not seeing the type of property that downsizers are willing to consider. This article is all about “creative downsizing“ and using great design to create a home that is perfect for people who are ready to live in a smaller space but who are not willing to compromise on comfort and lifestyle.
- In The Sunday Business Post today Jack Horgan-Jones writes ‘Cairn and Glenveagh square up over prime Dublin 8 site’. The site in question is the former Player Wills cigarette factory, which is being described as “one of the last high-quality pieces of regeneration land available between the two canals in the capital“. While the site is currently in receivership, both publicly-quoted companies are jockeying for position to acquire it.
- In the business section of the same paper, there is a follow-up on the Digital Construction Summit, which took place on Wednesday. As one of the industries that has been left behind by the digital revolution over the past two decades, it is great to see more and more of the industry embracing emerging technologies from BIM, drones and AI, to robotics on and offsite. CEO of US-based company VIATechnik, Danielle Dy Buncio, made the business case for technology-driven progress and offsite manufacturing. Here is an article that was shared by Irish engineering firm Evolusion Innovation earlier this week about the role that offsite can play in tackling Ireland’s housing crisis: The Future of Home-Building in Ireland: Might offsite construction be key to tackling Ireland’s housing crisis? https://www.evolusioninnovation.com/news/copy-of-offsite-construction-the-future-of-home-building-in-ireland
- One of my favourite pieces in today’s broadsheets is the lead feature in Property Plus, the property supplement of The Sunday Business Post ‘Can I extend and renovate my fixer-upper for 100,000 Euro? Buying a fixer-upper can be a way to purchase better-quality housing stock for less, with the plan to make improvements later-but renovation can cost much more than you think.’ This feature by Diarmuid Kelly provides a genuinely helpful breakdown of likely costs for brave new homeowners. Admittedly, this is back of the envelope type stuff, however it answers many of the early stage questions that buyers or potential buyers might have when considering taking on such a renovation job.
- In the same section, Donal Buckley writes that ‘Residential auctions see nearly €24 million worth of activity: Brisk bidding on a Dublin 7 unit near the new Luas line drove it’s price €190,000 over the estimate’. This refers to both online and auction room activity by auction leaders I-Am Sold and BidX1. The Dublin 7 property referred to above was a pre-‘63 redbrick property in Phibsborough, which sold for €490,000 (tenancy terms unknown).
- Revenue increases by over €100m at Cairn Homes. Cairn Homes has reported revenue of €149.5m for 2017, an increase on the €40.9m recorded in 2016, according to preliminary results for the company released today: https://amp-independent-ie.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/amp.independent.ie/business/commercial-property/revenue-increases-by-over-100m-at-cairn-homes-36674260.html
- Hundreds of homes left empty in ghost estates ‘as there is no demand’: https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/hundreds-of-homes-left-empty-in-ghost-estates-as-there-is-no-demand-36678428.html
- It’s ‘unlikely’ big housebuilders will buy any of the remaining 250 ghost estates – Asset management firm Investec says there are ‘few if any’ opportunities for the main construction firms: https://fora.ie/ghost-estates-ireland-3-3889449-Mar2018/
- New Ireland HQ on Dawson St to be sold and likely demolished https://www-irishtimes-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/www.irishtimes.com/business/commercial-property/new-ireland-hq-on-dawson-st-to-be-sold-and-likely-demolished-1.3416790?mode=amp
- Good news for the Limerick/Shannon region: Edwards Lifesciences to create 600 mid-west jobs in €80m investment https://www.siliconrepublic.com/jobs/edwards-lifesciences-jobs-midwest
- Kilkenny farm sold for €850,000 after frenzied bidding war between farmer and accountant: KILKENNY FARM LAND MAKES €10,300 PER ACRE: https://www.kilkennypeople.ie/news/home/301772/kilkenny-farm-sold-for-850-000-after-frenzied-bidding-war-between-farmer-and-accountant.html
- Glanbia to make €160 million investment in south Kilkenny with 86 jobs to be created : https://www.kilkennypeople.ie/news/home/301478/breaking-glanbia-to-make-160-million-investment-in-south-kilkenny-with-86-jobs-to-be-created.html
- Mapping Dublin’s Pipeline Housing Supply via Future Analytics: http://www.futureanalytics.ie/mapping-dublins-pipeline-housing-supply/
- Frank McDonald had an interesting article in The Irish Times Yesterday: ‘Get ready for the ‘Irish biennale’ as architects take on Venice’. The 16th Venice exhibition, curated by Grafton Architects, will highlight the humanity of Irish market towns: https://www-irishtimes-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/www.irishtimes.com/culture/art-and-design/get-ready-for-the-irish-biennale-as-architects-take-on-venice-1.3419475?mode=amp
- The construction industry has a productivity problem — and here’s how to solve it: https://www-marketwatch-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/www.marketwatch.com/amp/story/guid/B4D1A5CA-FF8F-11E6-A1EE-6B51553C1559
- Excellent blog via MARK STEPHENS ARCHITECTS on the importance of good communications between client and architect, and between architect and contractor : http://www.markstephensarchitects.com/architalks-26-communication/
- James Corbett is running workshops for businesses on ‘Introduction to AR & VR for Business’, link to bookings here: https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/demystifying-augmented-virtual-reality-for-business-tickets-43664793573
- A Pioneer in Real Estate Blockchain Emerges in Europe: https://www-wsj-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/www.wsj.com/amp/articles/a-pioneer-in-real-estate-blockchain-emerges-in-europe-1520337601
- To keep up-to-date on all things tech and innovation for the planning, construction and property industries, head over to http://www.prop-tech.ie, the national resource website for innovators, investors and mentors or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Property Insiders Guide
As many of you might know, my annual property book The Irish Property Buyers’ Handbook (since 2011) has undergone a rebrand for 2018 and will now appear as part of The Property Insider series, published by Oak Tree Press, the first three titles are now published and available here.