Head of Research at CBRE Ireland Marie Hunt has told the banking inquiry that as a company it believed a soft landing was plausible.

Ms Hunt said that in the period to 2007, it was obvious that supply and demand across a range of commercial property sectors showed there was an imbalance in some sectors of the Irish market.

She said cheap and plentiful bank debt and government tax policy fuelled a construction boom and encouraged the development of both residential and commercial property.

Much of this occurred, she said, in parts of the country where there was limited demand.

Ms Hunt said extensive re-zoning of land for development across different local authority areas and the absence of a national planning strategy exacerbated this trend.

"We were building too much accommodation, much of which was in the wrong locations. The pace of development was unsustainable and needed to be curtailed," she said.

Ms Hunt said as a company, having warned about the potential for oversupply in 2005, they welcomed the fact that development was beginning to slow down from early 2007.

She said that against this backdrop of development continuing to slow down to a more sustainable rate and domestic economic activity remaining strong; as was believed to be the case based on the commentary being provided by the IMF, ESRI, Central Bank and ECB; a soft landing was plausible.

She said this was the most likely scenario according to a range of market advisors and participants at that time.

Ms Hunt said that, to her knowledge, in the period up to 2008 CBRE were not contacted by the Irish government, the Central Bank, the Department of Finance or the Financial Regulator at any stage for a view on property market trends.

She said that in general, government intervention in the property market was largely done in the absence of any engagement whatsoever with the property industry.

Ms Hunt said that CBRE recommends engagement with organisations that have access to reliable information on trends and transactional activity in the commercial real estate market. 

Earlier the head of a commercial property group told the inquiry that they never anticipated the global financial crisis but they did feel property values had appreciated so much that a correction was likely. 

John Moran, managing director of Jones Lang LaSalle, said however that they did not anticipate the level of correction that followed.  

He said they advised clients to get out of the market as values could not continue to rise.

Mr Moran also said that, at times when they advised clients on what to bid for a transaction, buyers would sometimes add 20% or 50% to the bid and they were not sure how they came to that conclusion.

Mr Moran said they had anticipated price drops of 5-15% but certainly not the 70% drop for commercial property and 90% drop for development land that transpired. 

He said personal guarantees became quite common in 2006 and 2007, which meant banks were making lending decisions based on apparent net worth rather than the underlying securities and this was more risky.

Fine Gael TD Eoghan Murphy asked if they had concerns about particular investors. 

Mr Moran said they had concerns around the end of 2007 when values weakened that lending based on personal guarantees underwritten by personal net worth was starting to look more risky.

Mr Moran said town planners also shared blame for fuelling the boom with completely unsustainable development. 

He said planning policies were lax, incoherent and chased commercial rates with towns trying to out-do each other in terms of development. 

Mr Moran said he is concerned that another property bubble is being reached although it is not here yet.

He said he did not apologise for being involved in the record-making €412m sale of the glass bottle site and their job was to maximise the price.

Under questioning from Fine Gael Senator Michael D'Arcy, Mr Moran said they had a duty of care to their clients and tried to show the site in its best light, and he did not apologise for that. 

Mr Moran did not agree that it set a benchmark in terms of price as he said it was end of cycle and it preceded the sale of a well-known hotel in Dublin 4. 

He would not disclose their fees and whether they were based on a percentage.

Fine Gael's Kieran O'Donnell asked whether they had a moral obligation to the buyers, Mr Moran said absolutely not and buyers went in with their eyes wide open.