NAMA criticised over sale of properties in bulk

Monday 01 September 2014 23.28
NAMA said its aim is to achieve the best financial return on loans to repay money owed to the taxpayer
NAMA said its aim is to achieve the best financial return on loans to repay money owed to the taxpayer

Auctioneers and Fianna Fáil's finance spokesman have called on the National Asset Management Agency to stop allowing large tranches of houses and apartments to be sold in blocks and to sell them to individual buyers instead.

On Friday, NAMA sold 761 apartments in its so-called 'Orange Portfolio' to a Canadian-backed investment company.

It is now set to become Ireland's largest private-sector landlord.

Pat Davitt, the Chief Executive of the Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers, has called on NAMA to stop allowing apartments in its portfolio to be sold in large blocks.

He says that these apartments should be sold to individual buyers on the open market considering the high demand for properties.

"The property market is at a stage where prices have gone up considerably and that now is the time for them to break up these developments that they are selling to bigger conglomerates coming into Ireland to buy numerous and large apartment blocks and buildings.

"With the amount of people that are looking to buy properties and the price hikes in property we feel that if these were sold separately it would certainly ease the purchasing of these properties for a lot of people who are trying to buy one-off properties at the moment," he said.

Prior to the sale of the 761 apartments to investors on Friday, NAMA had said they were available to buy in one or more lots.

However, Fianna Fáil finance spokesperson Michael McGrath believes it would have been impossible to buy just one of these apartments.

"I think it's very clear NAMA never had an intention to sell any of these properties as individual units and they took the easiest option."

 

He added: "They are looking to get money in to at least ensure that particular debt washes its own face as such and that they are not losing any money on it. I don't believe that there was ever an intention on NAMA's part to sell to individual buyers.

"There is no reason why it couldn't be done instead of selling to a faceless real estate investment trust which is backed by Canadian money. Wouldn't it be a lot better if Irish couples and Irish individuals had an opportunity to buy from the State agency?"

Mr McGrath also said: "I strongly believe that at a time when there is such demand for properties in Dublin in particular and elsewhere around the country that NAMA should be open to selling to individual purchasers.

"Selling on a block like this to a tax-driven state investment trust may not necessarily be the best thing for the country.

"This deal in project orange is the easier thing for NAMA to do in one foul translation sell off a huge bundle of apartments but given the state of the market at the moment and the number of people who are so anxious to buy I think that ordinary Irish people should be given that opportunity," he said.

In a statement to RTÉ, NAMA said its aim is to achieve the best financial return on loans to repay money owed to the taxpayer.

NAMA has 14,000 completed residential units, of which 10,000 are generating rental income from tenants

The statement said that the sale of already-let properties on an individual basis would result in the displacement of the tenants who are living in these properties.

The agency also said it expects to finance or facilitate the delivery of a further 22,000 residential properties in the Dublin area over the next five years.

NAMA has pointed out that it has sold 786 units from the orange portfolio to private buyers such as owner-occupiers and individual buy-to-let investors, or allocated them to relevant authorities for social housing.

The agency also said that 3,000 residential units have already been sold from NAMA's portfolio.

It also said that the 761 units sold last week were the first bulk sale to an institution.