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Auctioneers and valuers insist on right to have role in Nama - Irish Times

04 November 2011

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BLOCKING IRISH auctioneers and valuers from taking up work for the National Asset Management Agency (Nama), would be grossly unfair, Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers president John Shaw told the organisation’s annual conference in Killarney last weekend. The institute said that it was seeking clarification from Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan on media reports that Irish valuers are not to be considered for the purposes of valuing property and sites for the Nama. Mr Shaw said any attempt to bypass Irish valuers, as a recent report had indicated, would be resisted.

“Any move by the Government now to try to discredit Irish auctioneers and estate agents as in some way being to blame for inflated prices, or incompetent to value sites and buildings is utterly unjust and unfair ... It would be highly unethical and improper of the Government to engage entirely foreign expertise whose knowledge of the Irish market is limited,” he said.

Fine Gael spokesman on the environment Phil Hogan told the conference he would be proposing an amendment to the upcoming Planning and Development Bill to extend the period of planning permission from five to seven years to ease costs on applicants who could not go ahead with schemes. Mr Hogan said that it was in everyone’s interest to get the property market moving again.

A reduction in the VAT rate would bring down the cost of buildings while “any move on stamp duty would have little effect”, he said. Addressing the conference, AIB Global Treasury chief economist John Beggs warned that many houses built in remote villages untouched for a century might never sell.

Mr Beggs said he believed house prices had dropped well beyond official figures of 18.5 per cent and were actually down up to 40 per cent on peak prices during the boom — but there was still no demand for them. “The major fact is not that banks won’t lend money — it’s that demand is low,” Mr Beggs said.

Asked specifically about Nama during questions from the floor, Mr Beggs acknowledged that the chief executive of AIB Group had welcomed it.

“I’m not speaking on behalf of AIB, but I believe there’s room for a debate about it as to whether it is a good idea,” Mr Beggs said. “There’s no certainty that Nama is the correct way,” he said adding that there was “an awful long way” to go before it was up and running.

“Unfortunately down the road there’s a high price to be paid for measures governments are taking,” he said. Business conditions in the Irish construction sector continued to deteriorate sharply in April, according to new data from the Construction Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) published by Ulster Bank.

The index of construction activity gave a reading of 32.9 in April, up from 28.1 in March, but far below the 50 mark that divides expansion from contraction. Ulster Bank economist Lynsey Clemenger said that the rate of decline in the Irish construction sector “may be past the worst”. But she added that it would be “some time before activity ceases to contract and the employment situation improves”.