Gosh, it seems Irish house prices have “moderated”

17 December, 2009

I spotted a written answer this week to a parliamentary question from Fine Gael TD, Olivia Mitchell.  She had asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government about the problems in publishing sale price data for residential property and about progress with a proposed legislative solution.

Minister of State Michael Finneran gave a written answer which was full of the usual prevarication and evasiveness, and he noted that “the Data Protection Act currently precludes the publication of data relating to specific sales prices achieved for individual houses without the consent of the purchaser and vendor involved in each transaction”.

However, in the course of his long-winded reply, a particular phrase he used was a classic:  “In terms of house prices, like housing markets throughout the world, the Irish housing market has moderated [my italics] significantly over the course of the last 18 – 24 months”.  

Moderated!  Why so shy, Minister?  Would admitting they have collapsed reflect badly on your Government?  How can you in all seriousness use the words “like housing markets throughout the world” when writing about what has happened here in Ireland?  The fall in prices here is not like any other market, because we had a uniquely poisonous set of factors here leading to a bizarre level of over-pricing, with Fianna Fáil cheerleading everything along to assist their wealthy supporters in the wonderful world of property development.

Look back at some of the quotes from the vested interests:

Estate agent Ken McDonald in 2007:  “There is no better investment than Irish property at present…..the Irish love affair with property will continue undaunted despite the knockers.”

 Tom Parlon, Director General of the Irish Construction Industry Federation, March 2008: “A lot of buyers have been sitting on the fence for nine to 12 months, our message is now is the time to buy, there is real value out there….. There’s not much more scope for further cuts, there’s a limit as to how much builders can cut prices and costs ……. available housing stock won’t be around for ever, especially in popular locations. A shortage from next year on could see upward pressure on prices again”.

Fianna Fáil’s Donie Cassidy contributed this little gem in the Seanad in April 2008:   “We have a duty to tell first-time house buyers, young couples with no previous experience, that there is unbelievable value in the marketplace today. It will not last forever. It is never the wrong time to do the right thing. I offer the House the benefit of my experience and my opinion which is all any Member can do. I will remind the House, perhaps in 12 or 18 months, when prices have again increased by 25% or 30%, that they were told this by the Leader of the House on this historic day, the tenth anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.”

Galway TD Frank Fahy, May 2008: “If I was to give advice to people, I would say, go out and buy some property now”.

And let’s not forget the master huckster himself, Bertie Ahern.  In 2006 he famously said that  “The boom is getting boomier…….We should have an examination into why so many people got it so wrong”, going on to say that people “should have bought last year.”    In April 2007, he predicted a “soft landing”. 

In July 2007, he said during an address to an Irish Congress of Trade Unions conference that “sitting on the sidelines, cribbing and moaning is a lost opportunity. I don’t know how people who engage in that don’t commit suicide…”

I recommend a visit to this website, (Quotes from the Irish Property Bubble) which sets out in gory detail the worst of the guff that was being fed to a largely innocent populace.

No, Minister.  Thanks largely to the efforts of your political and developer colleagues, the Irish housing market has not “moderated”.  It has plunged, collapsed, failed, folded, fallen apart, burst, expired or whatever other extreme adjectival past participle you can think up.


One Response to “Gosh, it seems Irish house prices have “moderated””

  1. ‘Moderated’! , does he not see the ghost estates on his Drive to Roscommon. The prices slashed signs, ‘reduced to sell’ or even one I saw at the weekend ‘we’ll pay you’re mortgage for the first year’..
    That quotes website is freaky too.

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