Three stories in today’s Irish Times property supplement that reveal something of the death of the Irish property dream.  Alison O’Riordan bought the dream.  She paid €525,000 for an apartment, where those  in a neighbouring block are now selling for €190,000.  This is what she had to say:

It’s such a bitter taste of defeat as I stare out my window each morning that I leave the blind down continually … As a homeowner, my load was already heavy enough to carry as, stuck with a property I cannot sell, I struggle to meet my monthly repayments …I chastise myself for incarcerating myself in my own financial prison. A prison, I soon learned, that had no more than about 10 inmates.  … I am so worried, I can hardly think of anything else … At least I can put the newspaper down or flick over the page, however there is no getting away from the apartments across the street. … Yesterday the bill for the management fee came in. It is for €1,600 – another figure I carefully choose to ignore back then.”

And she’s far from the only one locked in a financial prison.  Over 250,000 mortgage holders are in negative equity.  For those that have lost their jobs or taken pay cuts, they are struggling to pay the bills and over 36,000 are over 90 days in mortgage arrears. The dream has turned very sour for many and the stress is chewing up their lives.

And the property supplement lets another set of people know the extent of financial hole they are in.  A 62-unit apartment complex in Booterstown has prices half what apartments in a similar adjacent development went for during the boom years.  One bed apartments for €215,000; two-bed from €289,000; two-bedroom duplex from €355,000.  The one beds are still six and half times the average industrial wage.  A complex in Leopardstown start at €210,000, selling at 40-50% the price of when they were first released in 2008.  A bitter pill for those who had already bought in the complex and similar apartment blocks nearby.

And finally, Meath County Councillor are selling five houses that were bought compulsorarily for the M3 motorway but were not demolished.  The units are up to 80% the price they would have fetched at the top of the boom and before the motorway was built on their doorstep.  Interestingly they warn that the properties may need ‘entire rebuilding – “as they haven’t been lived in for about six years”.’   So, houses that were family homes that have not been lived in for six years may need to be knocked and rebuilt.  Well, that confirms the clock on doing something re. the unfinished and ghost estates around the country.  Many of these estates have already been empty since 2006/07, so they’re very much on short time before the bulldozer may need to be bought in as they may not be fit for purpose.

Reading the property supplement can indeed be bad for your health.

Rob Kitchin