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NAMA CHIEF: There isn’t enough profit for the private investor to invest their capital into building houses

NAMA CHIEF: There isn’t enough profit for the private investor to invest their capital into building houses

NAMA CHIEF: There isn’t enough profit for the private investor to invest their capital into building houses

NAMA chief executive Brendan McDonagh has blamed the shortage of housing in Dublin on low prices, despite massive gains in property prices in the capital over the past year.

Dublin house prices are still not high enough to attract new builders, he said, even though July figures from the Central Statistics Office showed a 23pc rise in prices across the county.

Mr McDonagh said Dublin house prices still only barely exceed the cost of building, but prices will continue to rise, he added.

"People talk about why isn't there houses being built in Dublin... The reality is, the reason they are not being built is because there really isn't enough profit for the private investor to invest his capital into it. If prices drop, he mightn't get his money back. So I think prices will continue to correct.

"The Minister [for Finance] last week said that it's not something that is a near-term concern for him and I would agree with that," added Mr McDonagh. "Effectively prices are just coming back to replacement cost now at the moment."

Nama is only beginning to break even on the properties it took over from banks and bust developers when it was set up in 2009, he added.

"When we bought the portfolios in 2009, prices went on to drop 20 or 30pc below what we paid the banks for them. The sales price for these houses were going down in 2009, 2010 and 2011 and it's only now, in 2014, that the sales price has actually gone slightly ahead of the build cost... The prices being achieved at present, there really isn't much profit in it."

The chief executive of the bad debt agency added that price rises have meant some properties earmarked for social housing have instead been sold.

Nama made 5,500 units under its control available to the Department of the Environment and Housing Agency, so that they could be used for social housing purposes, in an attempt to address the massive shortage of available properties for people on the housing register.

But just 2,000 of these were accepted, in part because price rises have taken many apartments out of negative equity, allowing debtors to sell them.

"We would generally have two and three-bedroom apartments, that's what's mainly within our portfolio, and for some of them, since we've made our decision [to designate them for social housing], the market would have moved on and the debtor or receiver would have sold them - we can't stop that happening."

Mr McDonagh added that others were rejected because housing authorities are reluctant to let more than 20pc of residential areas be consumed by social housing.

The Nama chief spoke to the Sunday Independent at a conference on insolvency and restructuring held in Dublin this week, hosted by Business & Finance.

Sunday Indo Business