Saturday 21 April 2018

Ires Reit chief hits out at owners for 'hoarding land'

David Ehrlich says land is being locked up. Photo: Maxwell Photography
David Ehrlich says land is being locked up. Photo: Maxwell Photography
Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

The chief executive of Ires Reit, Ireland's biggest private landlord, has said his company's bid to secure land for residential development in Dublin and its suburbs is being frustrated by private equity and private owners who are hoarding sites in the expectation that they will increase in value.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent following Ires Reit's AGM last Tuesday, David Ehrlich said in a number of cases the land Ires Reit had looked to acquire in the capital and within proximity to the M50 motorway was "just being locked up".

Asked who was holding on to the sites, the Ires chief said: "I just know that when we approach people with our townhouse concepts, a number of them are just sitting on it. Private equity and private owners. It's tough. People believe that in three, five or 10 years that, given the demand, there's going to be an increase in the price in housing."

While Ehrlich's comment supports the statement made by Nama chief Brendan McDonagh last Thursday in which he said there was evidence that speculators were holding on to sites without building on them, the Ires chief's reference to 'private equity' suggests that at least some of the parties now involved in hoarding land, acquired it from Nama.

Quite apart from the issue of owners sitting on land, Ehrlich said many of the sites his company had looked at in Dublin's suburbs remained unserviced, making them unviable for development currently.

Referring to this, he said: "The Government announced a structured plan but it is not going to service a tremendous amount of land. A lot of those owners who've owned that property for a long time are figuring in five years' time, the price of it is going to go up."

Notwithstanding the difficulty in securing more residential development land in Dublin and greater Dublin area, Ehrlich said Ires Reit was still searching for sites with a view to building townhouses.

Read more: Ires Reit has big plans for Dublin

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