Friday 28 October 2016

We're drifting blindfolded from one crash to another

Published 26/05/2016 | 02:30

‘There seems to be little relationship between a house’s asking price and its final price’. (Picture posed)
‘There seems to be little relationship between a house’s asking price and its final price’. (Picture posed)

Gird your loins, it's back: gougeasaurus giganticus, the monster that ate Ireland. The many failings of the property crisis in Ireland are as understood as they are under-responded to.

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However, one aspect of the crisis that is getting too little attention, I would venture to suggest, is price gouging. South Dublin, especially, is experiencing a repeat of the last days of the fully sovereign republic, before we were made destitute by banks, builders and property agents.

Recent efforts by this buyer to purchase an apartment has involved a crash course in cynicism. Frequently, the final price and asking prices bear no relationship whatever. Lending approval flexibility, bidding wars and an utterly inert Property Services Regulatory Authority (I would challenge anyone to ring, they simply don't answer the phone), have combined to at least generate the conditions of a property 'El Nino', a storm that can, as we know to our continuing cost, eventually rip the heart out of a society.

So who is watching the house this time? Banks have a vested interest in seeing prices rise, as they are, perversely, property owners and lenders (no need to worry about conflict of interest?). Vendors are vendors. And agents, ah yes, everyone's favourite hate figure didn't get the reputation by accident.

Line up all the fools willing to meet an asking price, and then set them off against one another in a Celtic Tiger-style casino game, sure, what could go wrong?

Lending rules are being bent, prices are racing ahead of capacity to pay and, worst of all, too many see house price inflation as a good thing, instead of a sign of danger. What other product sees its price inflates like housing? What other product would we tolerate inflating in price like this?

You didn't hear it here first, but we are not even out of one crash before we start another crash cycle. Maybe that's a first, even for us?

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At least we're not Greece

I listened to radio reports and saw newspaper headings blaming Enda Kenny for the gangland murders. On the other hand, I have read one commentator applying the term "great" to Enda Kenny. Both statements seem a bit extreme.

A more realistic assessment might result from a comparison of Mr Kenny's 2011 austerity government with the 'awash with cash' governments of the Celtic Tiger era which went before. A comparison with Greece, which had a bailout at much the same time, might also be relevant.

In the pre-2009 Celtic Tiger period, there seemed to be no shortage of money, all in the garden seemed rosy and as a consequence there was relatively favourable coverage in the media. The problem was that that ended in 2010 with a bankrupt government, bankrupt banks, a bankrupt country and an €85bn bailout.

That necessitated major cuts in services, increased taxation and charges for some services that were previously 'free'. In other words, 'austerity' was now writ large all day, every day in media coverage.

This continues to the present day in relation to funding security, health education, etc.

Therefore, when the 2011 government took office Ireland was in the same or worse position than Greece, which had a bailout at the same time. Now, while Greece is still in the throes of its third bailout, Ireland, despite its problems consequent to its bankruptcy, has made some recovery.

Mr Kenny and his government may not be "great" but they sure are better than the Celtic tiger governments that went before them in this country. They can be compared very favourably with governments that operated simultaneously in Greece since 2010.

A Leavy

Dublin 13

One foot in the grave

According to a Government institution, people in their mid-60s are considered too old to care for children. Thus we must go away and hide somewhere. We paid our taxes and got this country out of a huge mess. Now please go away, and expire.

We are living far too long, and putting an awful strain on finances by drawing our pensions into our 90s.

Compulsory euthanasia for anyone who dares to reach 66 must surely be on the cards. Got to go now! Must get my teeth out of the cup and warm up my zimmer frame before going to the gym.

Anthony Woods

Ennis, Co Clare

Capital punishment

Leinster fans aren't happy about Edinburgh hotel prices. Now they know what it's like for the rest of the country when we visit Dublin.

On the weekends of rugby international and concerts, up go the prices.

M McMullan

Omagh, Co Tyrone

A cloudy crystal ball

So Alan Kelly has resorted to crystal-ball gazing in predicting that Labour will replicate his success in Tipperary in a dozen more constituencies in the next genral election.

Would that be the same crystal ball that former leader Eamon Gilmore consulted in 2011 when he declared that "the Labour Party will not agree to any cuts in child benefit if it was to enter coalition with Fine Gael"?

Or another former Labour leader Ruairi Quinn's pledge to oppose and campaign against any new form of third-level fees, including student loans, graduate taxes and any further increase in student contributions?

Mr Kelly should display a little more political modesty and humility.

With Mr Kelly aving just scraped over the election line on the seventh count and then being unable to find one single Oireachtas Labour Party member to second him in his challenge to lead the party, it is clear that Mr Kelly is held in lesser esteem by his political colleagues than he holds himself and has exaggerated views of his own importance.

The Labour Party seems to have forgotten something about the electorate. We may be sometimes gullible, but we are not all stupid. The Labour Party has for years claimed exclusive occupancy of the moral high ground, looking down their noses and lecturing lesser mortals about standards in public office.

Labour may know morals, may believe in morals and may think morals, but this is of no consequence if they do not act morally.

Tom Cooper

Templeogue, Dublin 6W

That ship has sailed

They're still sending me bills for water. I didn't pay them when it was the law,so why do they think I'll cough up now that all the talk is about getting rid of the notion altogether?

Someone is nuts, and I know it's not me.

Robert Sullivan,

Bantry, Co Cork

Irish Independent

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