Monday 27 March 2017

'I'll never buy a property again. I rent' - government's top housing adviser

Conor Skehan with Minister Jan O'Sullivan
Conor Skehan with Minister Jan O'Sullivan
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

ONE of the Government's leading advisers on the property market has said that he would never buy a property again because they are too expensive.

Conor Skehan, chairman of the Housing Agency, the government body set up in 2010 to advise on policy for housing, rents his home and has no intention of changing that.

Asked about the perception that many people have of rent as 'dead money', Mr Skehan replied: "Well, I'm the chairman of the Housing Agency and I will never buy a piece of property again. I rent."

He added: "We've completely lost connection between rental values and market values in Ireland and that still has to sink into people's minds."

Mr Skehan made the statement while speaking to Matt Cooper for a new TV3 documentary which will be broadcast tonight.

His comments come despite the massive fall in property prices since 2007 and a limited recovery since.

They also come as rents in Dublin have increased by 14pc and throughout the country by 11pc in the last year, leading for widespread demands for the introduction of rent controls.

However, the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) recently published a report from DKM consultants arguing that the introduction of rent controls could lead to landlords exiting the market and further curtailing already limited supply as well as pushing up rents.

The numbers renting their accommodation instead of buying has increased dramatically since the crash of 2008, although this is often by necessity rather than choice because potential buyers have struggled to get large enough mortgages from banks.

The situation may get worse if the Central Bank goes ahead with its controversial plan to insist that first-time buyers have a 20pc deposit on the price of a house before they are allowed a loan.

Mr Skehan received support from leading economist Robbie Kelleher who told 'Ireland: What's next? - The Housing Crisis' that "even though house prices are a good deal off the peaks we saw in 2006/2007, they are not cheap by most measures".

Mr Kelleher said: "I think it is important to try and do something at this stage to at least limit the rate of price increases going forward."

Finance Minister Michael Noonan has previously dismissed concerns about rising house prices.

The programme addresses suggestions that the Government has been happy to see sales prices rise in recent years.

This has helped reduce the negative equity of those who bought overpriced houses during the boom and has also improved the balance sheets of the banks.

'Ireland - What's Next?' is a new TV3 series which starts at 9pm tonight. In the first of a series of documentaries, broadcaster Matt Cooper will tackle the issue of Ireland's housing crisis.

Irish Independent

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