Sunday 20 August 2017

'Ghost' estates must be resuscitated

As well as axing stamp duty, the Government must make unfinished housing estates habitable and accessible, writes Marc Coleman

OUR housing market will never, please God, drive our economy again. But neither can we take the Oliver Cromwell approach to it. Whether proverbially for the market as a whole, or literally for those trapped in so-called ghost estates west of the Shannon, the refrain of "To Hell or to Connacht" is not an option.

Last week the UK announced that its recession was coming to an end. Our economy may follow in a few months. Whether or not a double dip comes (it might, and for reasons that are nothing to fear), one difference between here and the UK will continue to stand out until we change our thinking about the housing market.

In the UK, where stamp duty was suspended for 16 months for a large section of the market, prices have started rising again. Here, where it remains chronically high, prices have fallen back to 2003 levels -- and continue to fall. Some say this is necessary. But is it? Or is the market swinging to the opposite extreme before settling back at a stable equilibrium?

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