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House HuntersRTÉ One, Wednesday, 8.30pm

Webchat with Liz O'Kane

Presenter Liz O'Kane is back with a brand new series of House Hunters. She was be online on Thursday, 10 May 2007. Read her answers to your questions below.

Liz O Brien: Hi Liz, the first of our three children is heading to College in Dublin this year, his brother will follow next year . My question is should we look at a city centre house, apartment to purchase or should we rent initially as we are not sure which college our second son will attend. Our budget is about 500,000.
Liz: If you can buy now, buy if you can, and get into a good negotiation before the Election results. You could always go sale agreed subject to what happens in the Elections. Supply in property is currently outweighing demand and there could be deals to be done.

Peter: I am thinking of buying a house but with all the goverment parties saying that they will lower stamp duty, or get rid of it for first time buyers, when do you think is the best time to buy? Now or later...
Liz: My advice is to buy now. Whatever monies people have in their back pockets for stamp duty and should the next government abolish stamp duty for first timers this will simply put the price of properties for first time buyers... UP!

David: Do you think that house prices will start to rise again after the election? Have most people been stalling to see what a new government does or is there something effecting the market at the moment?
Liz: Yes, people are stalling to see what the new government will bring. Should stamp duty be abolished it will get the market moving again and yes, prices will rise to the tune of whatever stamp duty would have been paid. I suggest buying now before buyers come back to the market.

Jenny: Hi Liz, We have an investment property in Liffey Valley, Dublin and are toying with the idea of selling. Should we hang on? It is currently paying for itself.
Liz: If you are prepared to hold on for a longer burn and the property is paying for itself and not giving you a headache, keep it. The market will come back and anywhere within good proximity to the city is still holding it's value.

Brian Byrne: Do property markets follow boom and bust cycles as there has been alot of negativity toward property lately?
Liz: Yes, every market is cyclical and if anybody thinks this downturn is a surprise, they are foolish. However, the market will come back.

John: Do you think new developments are a better investment, rather than second-hand properties?
Liz: Well, first of all it depends on where they are. However, new developments generally have good insulation and are maintenance-free, whereas a second-hand property could break your heart with all the on-going work that needs to be done. A new development with a good contemporary design is probably the way to go.... if you can find it!

Mairead: In your opinion do you think the property market is going to slow down?
Liz: It already has slowed down, although most properties in the Dublin area are holding on. The slow down just means that property will take longer to sell, but in the long term will return to a more level playing field.

Mary: Do you think that the property market could crash?
Liz: No... I don't think any government can afford to let that happen. A levelling off is what we are seeing.

Angela: Why did you decide on a career in property?
Liz: I bought my first property when I was 20 with a 100% mortgage in the UK when the boom was happening there. I sold 18months later having made some money and have been obsessed ever since.

Elaine: What stamp duty changes would you like the new government to bring in?
Liz: Reduce rates at all levels but I don't believe that abolishing for first timers is going to help them. I believe it will put the price of property UP at those price brackets.

Simone: I enjoyed the last series - will this one be any different?
Liz: Definitely, the new series will reflect the changes in our property market as well as giving good investment advice. WATCH IT!!

Sean: I was thinking of buying an apartment in Adamstown to rent out. Do you think prices will keep rising over the next few years?
Liz: I believe that property prices within County Dublin with good infrastructure to the city centre will certainly hold it's own. We will not see double digit capital appreciation for a while, but the market will eventually come back. Adamstown seems like a good bet. Its very popular because of the above.

Shane, Dublin: Hello. I have just bought a luxury one-bed apartment in Santry for E315,000 off the plans. It won't be ready till around October. Do you think this is a good investment?
Liz: Shane, I think there already is a glut of one-beds on the market which are proving difficult to shift. I don't have a crystal ball, but perhaps a good two-bedroom is a safer bet. If you are planning on holding on to the one-bed for a long time, it should be easy to rent, not so sure about easy to sell.

Clare: If I'm buying a property as an investment, do you think a house rather than apartment is a better option?
Liz: It depends on where it is. A good apartment in the capital or any other city will always be a good investment, whereas a house would be a better investment in a regional town.

Thomas: Have you invested yourselves outside Ireland?
Liz: I plead the fifth. Yes, why?

Elaine: Are foreign properties a good investment - I am thinking of buying an appartment in the south of Italy - just wondering if it would be worth my while?
Liz: Southern Italy is relatively inexpensive and there's a lot of new development going on there. The area is set to boom. Sounds alright to me, but you still need to be prepared for a punt. There's no such thing as a sure thing.

Sean: Morgan Kelly is a professor of economics at UCD, who has studied international housing price cycles. He believes that the market is overvalued by up to 50% Do you agree?
Liz: Gosh, difficult question. I find it amusing that the Irish could be paying well over the odds for property for the last ten years. It has now levelled off but if you compare our market to London, Paris, Madrid and Barcelona, you will see that they as financial cities are even more expensive than us, so who is to say what the truth is?

Martha: Do you think the current Dublin situation - people having to commute for hours daily to houses or apartments miles outside the city - is sustainable?
Liz: I think it is an appalling situation and must be soul destroying for many. It is unacceptable that housing estates, new villages were built first instead of a good infrastructure for commuters. I feel very strongly about this.

Mick: Is there still money to be made in buying second-hand, refurbishing and selling?
Liz: Yes, definitely. Many people need to buy a home where they can just hang up their hat and start living. Most people in full time jobs simply don't have the time for DIY and are happy to pay a premium for a well refurbished house.

Mary: Do you think developers will ever build - and Irish people will ever accept - apartments for long-term family living?
Liz: I think it is already happening. There are a few excellent architect designed apartment blocks that offer terrific space for small families to live in and this is where the new Irish population will ultimately live. Our European cousins have no difficulty living in apartments. We should embrace the same, as long as it is good space and good design.

Anthony: Now that the market has cooled do you think the day of property tv programmes is nearing an end?
Liz: Absolutely not. There is now a new angle to be dealt with and in fact it makes the whole property issue even more interesting. Property is still the main hot topic in Ireland.

Liz:Apologies for not replying to you all. Don't forget to tune in next Wednesday at 8.30pm on RTÉ One for a great Cork story.
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Liz O'Kane
Liz O'Kane