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Thursday 5 December 2019

'Huge interest' shown, but many turned away

Ralph Riegel and Charlie Weston

THE NAMA scheme aimed at kick-starting the property market recovery triggered a flood of enquiries from potential buyers yesterday -- but it turned out that many of those were not eligible.

The new deal, which has been developed by the State's 'bad bank' to protect buyers from negative equity in any price plunge, is restricted to first-time buyers and movers.

Investors will not be offered the deal.

One major Cork auctioneer said it had received queries from interested investors; however, none of them qualified for the scheme.

A number of first-time buyers expressed an interest in some properties -- only to be informed that the scheme was being restricted, for the time being, to selected two- and three-bedroom houses rather than the larger properties.

NAMA said it was taken aback by the response to the launch of the deal.

"There has been a huge number of enquiries to NAMA from people looking for more information and for contact details for the sales agents, there was a massive jump in the number of hits on the website," said a spokesman.

He added that the NAMA website had recorded its highest number of hits this year. "Callers have been very positive, with most people in touch with us welcoming the fact that something is being done."

One of the schemes involved in NAMA's deferred payment initiative, Mount Oval in Rochestown, Co Cork, has just 10 two-bedroom townhouses available at its Rowan Hill estate.

A significant number of three- and four-bedroom houses are available in other parts of Mount Oval -- as well as other estates in the NAMA scheme including Drakes Point (Crosshaven) and Old Quarter (Ballincollig).

But these larger homes do not come under the terms of the deferred payment scheme.


The focus is exclusively on smaller two- and three-bedroom units geared toward first-time buyers.

Sherry FitzGerald's Sheila O'Flynn said it was too early to make a judgment on the deal.

"We're only 24 hours into the scheme so no one really knows what is going to happen, but there has been an enormous amount of interest. The phone has been hopping here all morning," she said.

Unlike in Dublin and other areas where NAMA was criticised for 'pumping up' house prices, schemes like Rowan Hill are considered competitive.

"A two-bedroom townhouse in Rowan Hill has a list price of €160,000 under the scheme -- that is compared to the €330,000 that these types of homes were making in Mount Oval back in 2006," Ms O'Flynn said.

Other comparable houses in the area -- not in the NAMA scheme -- fall within a €20,000 bracket of the asking price for the Rowan Hill homes.

Auctioneers believe that NAMA has chosen to include the "crown jewels" of estate properties in its initial scheme.

"Certainly in terms of the Cork market, the estates that are included here are among the very best. I think NAMA made a very deliberate decision to focus on high-quality developments that will attract a lot of interest," Ms O'Flynn added.

Irish Independent

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