AT THE RISK OF BEING accused of talking down the Irish economy, I think the Irish property market is helping to skewer prosperity by artificially pushing up the value of housing. This fact landed dead centre on my kitchen table as my brother, a long-time California and Silicon Valley resident, remarked that some Kilkenny homes cost more than his acreage near the Valley. And he has the weather that makes his swimming pool a regular part of the daily routine. Try that anywhere in County Kilkenny. David McWilliams makes overpriced housing a main point in his analysis of Ireland's declining competitiveness. From personal experience gained after selling a home in Kilkenny, I believe there are appraisers and estate agents who have tweaked plans and who have played the property game themselves in order to directly affect demand, which then directly inflated the price points of limited housing stock. The Irish Independent carries a related story when discussing how "Hooke & MacDonald have never been shy when it comes to larging up the property market. Their breathless rhapsodies have been a part of the property scene for well over a decade. The auctioneer’s tennis-playing figurehead, Ken MacDonald, politely took exception to Final Word’s musings a few weeks back that, like it or not, the market was dormant. Wrong, he said, there’s plenty of action out there in the new homes arena." But wait, how is the market doing at Ken's doorstep? Geckko, the property magnate on Property Pin, did a little probing.
Looking at the listings on MyHome.ie, the Irish Independent found this snippet describing a property at 2 Newtown Park: "Sure to be of instant appeal to a variety of discerning purchasers - from young families to those seeking to trade down alike. Early viewing is strongly recommended!"
And who owns this house? The alert crew at the Property Pin say it's the home of the ebullient Ken MacDonald, "2 Newtown Park Ave Blackrock, still at the pre-auction AMV and subsequent listed asking price of €2.4m - for over 12 months."
Since Irish broadsheets need the advertising support of Irish property developers, few readers will see probing questions about the actual health of the Irish property market. That's a shame, because lack of investigative reporting simply permits the housing message to be articulated by its promoters and stories like mine, where I can personally document the questionable tactics of agents who inflated values, agents who misrepresented features of homes for sale and agents who are now are relaunching estates with new accessories meant to entice buyers in a sluggish market. All these tactics contribute to increasing the cost of living in Ireland which has a direct knock-on effect to Irish competitiveness in a global economy. As property buyers, we have authored our own demise in a market artificially propped up by business practises that would not wash in a more transparent society.