THE IDA may invest in commercial property by itself, if the shortage of high-quality office buildings continues.
The investment agency has repeatedly highlighted the shortage of suitable offices in good locations for overseas firms looking to set up here.
Despite its efforts, the current climate for building commercial property means it is unlikely that any new construction will take place in the short term.
Yesterday, a spokesman for the agency said it still preferred to rely on the private sector to provide appropriate buildings, but did not rule out a hands-on approach to fund growth in the market.
"IDA Ireland has had three strong years of foreign direct investment success and this has resulted in a substantial take-up of office and industrial space across the country.
"It has also resulted in a challenge to develop new property solutions for the future. We believe the private sector will be the main way to address these challenges in the future but, considering the current economic and financial position of the country, it is also right that appropriate new models be examined in certain locations," he added.
If the IDA moves into the property business, it would likely invest before securing any tenants. That would provide builders with the financing required to construct offices, and the IDA would then become landlord to its own client firms.
Last week, Goodbody Stockbrokers warned there was already a severe shortage of new commercial property hitting the market, with little chance of the scenario changing.
"Many of the big construction firms have been decimated by the downturn, to the extent that many of them simply don't have the capacity to build major office blocks on anything like the scale of a few years ago," said chief economist Dermot O'Leary.
"On top of that, the lack of credit in the market means there is a shortage of funding for such projects," he added.
CBRE's Marie Hunt echoed these concerns, telling the Construction Industry Federation's annual conference there were only two properties suitable for IDA client companies available in Dublin at the moment.
If the IDA did invest directly in the market here it would likely be welcomed by the wider property industry.
Property Industry Ireland (PII), a lobby group that counts some of the biggest names in the business among its board members, has also suggested the agency could take direct action in the market.
Speaking at a property conference last Sunday, PII chairman Aidan O'Hogan outlined a "national property scheme" that would "enable the IDA in certain controlled circumstances to enter into leases or underwrite leases which enable such funding to be put in place".
He added: "In the absence so far of almost any investment activity by major investors in these locations, some new form of funding and creative funding will be required to enable such development to take place."