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Massive sale of receivership properties to test market

'We are quoting low prices to attract buyers and to ensure the properties will sell'

The biggest ever auction of receivership properties in this country, to be held next month, will be the first major test of whether prices sought by receivers and their clients, the banks, are close to the bottom of the market.

Receivers have slashed by at least half the prices for more than 80 properties on offer.

"We are quoting low prices to attract buyers from overseas and to ensure the properties will sell," explained Stephen McCarthy director of joint agents Space.

Hundreds of thousands of euro have been cut from boom prices for some properties, while country flats can be had for less than €24,000.

About half the properties are in Dublin and at least 20 are family-style houses. Most of the others are apartments, but the auction will also see around 10 shops and a farm on offer.

The most valuable of the properties is a 2,000 sq ft mews at Raglan Lane, Dublin 4, with a reserve price of €600,000. It would have fetched more than €1.6m at the peak.

Among the lowest-priced properties on offer is a group of flats and offices at Tuskar House, John's Gate, Wexford, with a reserve of €210,000. Including four one-bedroom studio apartments, two two-bedroom flats and three offices, the price works out at an average of €23,333.

The cheapest individual flat is a €35,000 apartment at Bridle Walk, Kilminchy, Portlaoise. The cheapest family house is a three-bedroom semi in Tuam, Co Galway guiding €45,000.

The prices quoted are the what the selling agents describe as the "maximum reserve" prices. Once the reserve is reached, the highest bid is guaranteed to secure the sale, but Mr McCarthy did not rule out selling properties for less than the reserve.

The auction will take place on April 15 in the Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin.

The Irish agents Space are working with UK distressed property auction specialists Allsop. Togther they have had more than 1,000 requests for auction catalogues.

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"We expect a number of overseas buyers and we will have eight people taking telephone bids to cater for them. Already, an Irishman phoned from New York to check the date in order to book his flight home to attend the auction," Mr McCarthy said.

Only six of the properties are being sold by homeowners selling voluntarily. The rest are being sold by six receivers from some of the major insolvency practitioners in the country -- acting on behalf of a number of banks.

The receivers have taken possession of most of the properties from developers and businesses which went bust. Mr McCarthy said that he did not know who originally owned the properties.

About half are occupied by tenants and generating rents.

Mr McCarthy also expects several large apartments (over 700 sq ft) at Castleforbes Square in Dublin's North Docklands to attract interest.

The apartments carry a maximum reserve price of €140,000. Castleforbes Square was developed by Liam Carroll, whose property empire collapsed with debts of more than €1bn.

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