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Pope predicts housing demand tsunami

"There is going to be a tsunami, a massive outcry for housing," one of ruined developer Liam Carroll's former lieutenants has predicted.

"We would definitely see very strong recovery in residential markets in Dublin -- but in houses only. You'd be mad to build apartments," said John Pope, ex-financial director of Zoe Developments, the prolific boomtime apartment builder.

Pope is now employed by Nama to manage former Liam Carroll-built properties through a management company called Pames, along with former Zoe MD David Torpey and Dunloe Ewart director Noel Murray.

"There is massive pent-up demand for three and four-bed semis in places like Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown, where only about 40 houses were built in 2011," he said. "There is virtually no spare housing stock in Dublin. And in west Dublin house prices are already increasing."

This potential rush of housing demand, he said, would unleash "within 10 miles of Dublin".

"The housing market will come back strong once banks start giving mortgages, but not further out -- places like Enfield and Naas could take 10, 20 years to recover," he claimed.

Pope praised Nama's latest property market interventions. "There's been some useful stuff, for example debt freezing and mortgage splitting."

Pope also sees opportunity for 'trophy' city centre office development.

"Several multinationals are seeking city centre space -- Bank of New York Mellon, Arthur Cox, KPMG. But in order to build, rents will have to be significantly higher."

Nama commissioned Pames to manage a three-acre site next to State Street's offices on John Rogerson's Quay, which informed sources have said it would like to develop as a HQ for a major multinational tenant. Bank of New York Mellon wants a location like this but doesn't want to be situated next to competitor State Street.

"There is light at the end of the tunnel," said Pope, "but there needs to be funding. We regularly deal with Nama and find it very amenable," he added.

Sunday Indo Business