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Anger as NAMA to use boom valuers

NAMA is to rely on estate agents and commercial firms who allegedly puffed up the boom to now measure its impact.

A number of firms who saw their profits soar during the property boom have been awarded contracts to value properties for the National Asset Management Agency.

Lisney, Savills, DTZ Sherry Fitzgerald, Jones Lang Lasalle and CB Richard Ellis have been appointed to run the national valuation operations for the controversial agency.

NAMA is acquiring up to €47bn of toxic property loans for banks and is to set to undertake a massive evaluation process on assets in Ireland and overseas.

However, its choice of estate agents and commercial firms faced stern criticism today, with one TD branding it outrageous.

Almost all of the firms involved gave interviews in recent years predicting that house prices would continue to rise and advising homebuyers that a property crash was not in the offing.

Some also attacked experts who were prepared to forecast the bursting of the bubble.

Labour TD Pat Rabbitte said it is outrageous that firms who encouraged the bubble were getting significant work as a result of the market collapse.

"These are the very same estate agencies that puffed up the bubble at its worst between 2004 and 2008 and now they are advising NAMA about property dispositions," he said.

Fine Gael MEP Gay Mitchell said he wanted to see the State's Valuation Office given a role in NAMA, so estate agents' valuations could be checked again.

He was publicly criticised by estate agents Hamilton Osborne King in 2007 after he accused them of making false predictions about house valuations to hype up prices.

"They were forecasting a further 10pc increase and I said it was absurd. It actually contributed to people borrowing a lot of money. They were encouraged to do that by the banks and some estate agents," he said.

The various companies involved have denied any involvement in "puffing up" the housing market.

NAMA says applications for valuation work had been required to declare any potential conflicts of interest relating to their previous work for banks and property developers on a case-by-case basis.

"If a firm has valued a particular asset in the past, it is not allocated valuation work in relation to that asset by NAMA," a spokesman said.