Dublin Economics Workshop: another century in 300 years of Dublin house prices

We were very pleased to see a joint paper by Karl Deeter (Irish Mortgage Brokers) and Frank Quinn (Blackrock Further Education Institute) featuring in the 38th Dublin Economics Workshop.

This was Karl’s fourth year in a row presenting at the conference- although this time his presentation was on court statistics in possession hearings, Frank took care of the property paper on his own. Above is a picture from the day.

Further commentary on the court findings will be released soon.

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Repossession statistics in Ireland, consider the numbers

With the new report on repossessions out it is probably a good idea to look at some of the actual statistics. Many commentators mistakenly describe property that isn’t taken back through repossessions as a ‘repossession’ when it is more in line with liquidated damages.

A repossession by definition is a seizure of collateral securing a loan in default, in most jurisdictions this comes with a court order allowing the lien holder to reclaim the property. In a ‘voluntary surrender’ that isn’t seizure process, and in an abandonment it is also about limiting the value reduction of idle property, for that reason we break the figures down into court ordered possessions and those that are done by choice or by leaving them without notifying the lender.

Here’s what it looks like.

And what you can see is that the orange bar which is the abandonments and voluntary surrenders far outweigh the blue bars which are the ‘repossessions’ where somebody is being brought through the process in court.

The non-court repossessions …

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Save the best until last.

Bank recapitalisation is looking more likely for several Irish players, however, an important precedent must be observed – we saved the weakest first and therefore we will almost invariably need to save the best.

The ongoing Anglo debacle is evidence that we opted to get behind a bank that had falsely represented its balance sheet, over exposed itself to high risk clients and run short of money. So we saved the weakest, and that sets the foundation for saving the strongest. The idea that we should only save strong banks never gained traction and that is unfortunate. The State is being left to foot the bill now, is this fair?

Capitalism is being blamed for the current crisis, banks are also being blamed, but what about Governments? What was their role?

Monetary excess is often the cause of the boom and thus the bust, both the Fed and the ECB kept rates artificially low for far too long, Ireland entered the Euro and availed of low rates and high liquidity that was in …

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Regulatory distortion of the market, intervention required.

The Financial Regulator has been under increased scrutiny and for that reason it is probably a good idea if they take steps to ensure a fair and transparent marketplace, because the current public sentiment is that they have not performed their job as well as they should have. From the point of view of the intermediary channel, there are marketplace distortions that are actually harming customers and we have explained this via broker representative bodies but to no avail.

The issue currently causing problems is that of dual pricing/dual offerings. This occurs where a bank has one price if you go direct, and another if you go through a broker, or where they offer incentives via one channel that cannot be matched in another. The danger is that independence of advice is under threat when there are ‘teasers’ involved through any channel that diminishes the potential for multi-institution advice.

If banks were willing to compete across all distribution channels equally it would be one thing, but they are not, in fact, …

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Housing dysfunction

There are some who are saying that there are amazing deals to be found in the current market and if you consider price only then you may be tempted to believe this. Yields could also present a strong argument for property investment if yields stay at historic levels, however yields are likely to fall in 2009 and will remain stagnant until at least 2011/12 for several reasons which we will outline, we will also look at some of the current dysfunction in the market by examining a few types of sellers and how their personal situations express themselves in their selling behaviour.

The first group bought in the last days of the boom, they likely used minimal deposits (or even 100% finance) in order to purchase and they are in deep negative equity, they are now no longer on fixed rates – which tended to be 1/2/3yr fixed- and may have moved into the variable market which revises their payments upwards. One can be forgiven for thinking they may be a ‘distressed seller’ – the distress …

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