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Welcome to the Winter 08 edition of the Property Professional. Another year has almost passed by and it was indeed a challenging one for all auctioneers and estate agents. The economy is now in recession and it will still clearly be some time before there is an upturn. In the meantime, we must try and adapt to the new circumstances by way of finding new areas of activity and upskilling in existing areas so as to ensure that we can be ready for the upturn when it does come. As I write, publication of the long-awaited Bill which will give statutory effect to the Property Regulator is imminent and its contents will focus the attention of all IPAV members in the early weeks of 2009. As an Institute, we will be seeking to keep all members informed of the implications of the new legislation and we will lobby for any amendments which we feel are necessary in order for the smooth transition from self-regulation to regulation to be achieved. Fintan McNamara

The recent Budget was very disappointing in many respects from the Institute’s point of view and did little to restore confidence to a flagging market. IPAV is particularly concerned at a number of changes, notably the proposed ¤200 levy on all investment properties and we have already sought a meeting with the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to discuss its full implications.


IPAV is also concerned at aspects of the new energy rating certificate system being introduced by Sustainable Energy Ireland and we have written to the revelent Minister on these. However, the new Home Choice scheme announced by Minister for Housing Michael Finneran in the wake of the Budget does offer some incentive to help clear the oversupply of new homes which are dotted around the countryside. 2008 was a very busy year for the Institute and saw a number of innovations including the launch of our pilot Continuous Professional Development (CPD) programme, run in association with and a seven week course aimed at property professionals. Both projects were very successful and we will be continuing to progress them further next year. Our AGM and Annual Convention will take place in Killarney on May 8th and 9th and I would ask members to put those dates in their diary right away. Finally, I would like to thank members for their support during the past year. I am always delighted to hear your views and you are welcome to drop in to No 129, Lower Baggot St at any time. Finally, on my own behalf and on behalf of the staff at Head Office, may I wish you all a Happy and a Peaceful Christmas.

Chief Executive Officer Fintan McNamara M.Litt. Dip. L.S. MIPAV(HON)


Fintan McNamara Chief Executive

Tim Ryan Tim Ryan Communications Tel: 01 679 0380


Advertising & Design Designroom Tel: 087 2889127


property Publisher





Views expressed by contributors or correspondents are not necessarily those of IPAV or the publisher and neither IPAV nor the publisher accept any responsibility for them.

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pg 22 pg 24-25 the property professional


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THE PRESIDENT Dear Member I find it difficult to believe that we are already approaching Christmas and the beginning of yet another new year. However, it is now an opportune time to reflect back on the months gone by and to plan for the year ahead. By any standard, the year proved an extremely difficult one for the property industry, throwing up as it did very difficult challenges for many in both the auctioneering and estate agency profession and the many parallel professions. Thankfully, most of our members managed to keep their heads above water and while there were the inevitable cutbacks and job losses which this entails, we have learned much from the downturn and hopefully, are better equipped to meet the challenges that still lie ahead. Publication of the long promised legislation on regulating the auctioneering profession is now imminent and this will be one of our main priorities for the coming year. The contents of this Bill will have major implications for all of us as to how we run our business and we will be carrying out a forensic examination of its contents. We will circulate details to all members as soon as they are to hand and full information will be available on our website

Alan Redmond President

At all times in course of our deliberations on the Bill, we welcome your comments which will be most helpful in devising our response. Our AGM and Annual Convention, held in Malahide in May were both very well attended and plans are already well advanced for next year’s Convention which will take place in the Malton Hotel, Killarney on the weekend of May 8th and 9th. I hope we will see the same, if not a greater, level of turnout. In the Autumn the Institute, as has become the norm, organised a series of Seminars at venues throughout the country which dealt with issues of topical interest to members. This year, for the first time, we introduced Continuous Professional Development, or CPD points, on a pilot basis and the response from members was very enthusiastic. In fact, we saw record turnouts at the three venues and we will be continuing with the project in the Spring of 09 when the topics dealt with will include an analysis of the new regulatory Bill. In early Autumn we also made a comprehensive submission to the Minster for Finance on the Budget. IPAV was largely disappointed with the eventual outcome as we felt an ideal opportunity was lost to re-invigorate the marketplace. Full details of the Budget and IPAV’s response are contained elsewhere in this issue. Education continues to be a main priority of the Institute and while we witnessed a fall-off in the numbers attending courses, this was made up in other ways, notably our new seven week course held at National Office. This was booked out and we will be running a second course in the Springtime. I wish to pay tribute to the work of the Education Advisory Committee and its Chairman Peter Brady for their ongoing efforts. I also wish to thank our CEO, Fintan McNamara and all our staff for their continued dedication. Our quarterly magazine, The Property Professional continues to be our flagship publication and it enjoys a wide readership both within and outside our membership. Finally, I would like to personally thank all members for their support during 2008 and to wish you a very Happy Christmas and a Prosperous 2009. Go néirí an bóthar libh.

Alan Redmond PRESIDENT 2

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BUDGET 2009 THE FOLLOWING ARE THE PRINCIPAL FEATURES OF THE BUDGET IN RELATION TO AUCTIONEERING AND ESTATE AGENCY: CHARGE ON NON-PRINCIPAL PRIVATE RESIDENCES The Government has decided to broaden the revenue base of local authorities. This will be achieved by the introduction of a charge on all non-principal private residences. The charge will be levied and collected by local authorities, and will be used to support the provision of local services. Finance Minister Brian Lenihan

MORTGAGE INTEREST RELIEF The current rate of mortgage interest relief is being increased from 1 January 2009 for first-time buyers from 20% to 25% in year 1 and year 2 and to 22.5% in years 3, 4 and 5. The additional relief will be available to new first-time buyers and first-time buyers who have bought a house in the last 4 years. The rate of mortgage interest relief for nonfirst-time buyers is being reduced from 20% to 15% from 1 January 2009. It is estimated that this measure will be broadly revenue neutral.

STAMP DUTY Stamp Duty on Commercial Property The current Stamp Duty applicable to nonresidential property is being changed in respect of Instruments executed on or after 15 October 2008. The top rate of duty is being reduced from 9% to 6% and the new rates are:

This measure is estimated to yield a minimum of €40 million in a full year.

CAPITAL GAINS TAX Change in Payment Dates The payment date in respect of disposals in the period January to November is being changed to mid-December and the tax on disposals in December will now be due on the following October 31st (the existing pay and file date). It is estimated that this change will result in an estimated cash flow yield of €200 million in 2009. Change in Rate of Tax The rate of capital gains tax was increased to 22% from 20% in respect of disposals made from midnight on 14 October 2008.

Aggregate Consideration

Rate of Duty

Up to €10,000


€10,001 to €20,000


€20,001 to €30,000


€30,001 to €40,000


€40,001 to €70,000



€70,001 to €80,000


Over €80,000


Levy on car parking facilities provided to employees by their employers

The cost of this measure is estimated at €20 million in 2008 and €180 million in 2009 and in a full year.


The new charge will be set at e200 per dwelling and will come into effect in 2009. It will be payable by the owners of private rented accommodation, holiday homes and other non-principal residences but will not be applied to new dwellings as yet unsold. The Minister for the Environment, Heritage & Local Government will bring forward legislation at an early date to give effect to these arrangements.

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This measure is estimated to yield an additional €160 million in 2009 and in a full year.

A flat rate levy of €200 per annum will be charged on employees whose employer provides them with car parking facilities. The levy will be confined to employer provided car parking facilities situated in the main urban centres.

The estimated yield from this measure is €5 million in 2009 and €10 million in a full year.

RATIONALISATION OF STATE AGENCIES Merge the Rent Tribunal into the Private Residential Tenancies Board.

CAPITAL ALLOWANCES Capital Allowances Scheme for certain energy-efficient equipment The tax incentive (introduced in Budget and Finance Act 2008) which provides for capital allowances of 100% of expenditure incurred by companies in the year the equipment is purchased is being extended from three categories to seven categories. The new categories to be included in this scheme are: * Data server related systems and large energy saving office equipment associated with Information & Communications Technology. * Efficient heating/electricity provision equipment and control systems. * Efficient electrical and control equipment associated with Process & Heating Ventilation and Airconditioning systems. * Alternative fuel vehicles. The cost of this change is estimated to be €1 million in 2009 and €5 million in a full year.

Capital Allowances for newly constructed commercial buildings Where newly constructed commercial buildings are used before being sold and the sale does not take place within one year of first use, the purchaser gets the value of available capital allowances on expenditure on a more restrictive basis. This makes the purchase of the building a less attractive option. Accordingly, the one year time limit for disposal is being extended to two years.

Seveso-listed industrial facilities. A new ring-fenced tax incentive scheme will be introduced to facilitate the removal and relocation of Seveso-listed industrial facilities which hinder the residential and commercial regeneration of Docklands in urban brownfield areas. The EU Seveso

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BUDGET UNIMAGINATIVE AND LACKING VISION BY FINTAN MCNAMARA, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, IPAV From a housing perspective, Budget 2009 is particularly unimaginative and disappointing. What was particularly needed on this occasion was a long-term plan for the future and the laying in place of the first building block which would get our sluggish economy moving again, step by step.

Fintan McNamara

Instead, what we were given was a hotch-potch of measures which appear to have been very hastily put together and the full implications of which have not at all been properly thought out. The Minister himself said as much when he said, for example that the proposed measures to reduce mortgage tax relief have not been “set in stone”. Clearly, as in previous budgets, the devil is in the detail and we will have to await further details before we can properly assess the full implications. In particular, we await further details of the new Government Equity Initiative scheme which seems, on first reading, to be “restricted to a small number of local authorities acting on a regional basis”. There were some welcome elements, of course, in the Minister’s speech. For example, the three per cent reduction in commercial Stamp Duty will go some way towards providing assistance to a very lack lustre market. However, IPAV deeply regrets the failure by Brian Lenihan to make any changes in the Stamp Duty regime for non-first time buyers of residential houses. This is a market which has virtually come to a standstill and will need to see some tangible incentives if we are to see a normal market resume anywhere in the near future.

€200 LEVY In particular, IPAV is gravely concerned at the new €200 local authority charge on all private rented accommodation, holiday homes and other non-principal residences. While the figure may appear relatively low, it acts as a further disincentive to the many thousands of people who provide private accommodation for students and short-term dwellers thereby relieving the State of a major burden. We will be calling on the Minister and his colleagues to review this penal tax in the upcoming Finance Bill as these people are already faced with new energy rating charges from January 1. The decision to decrease the amount of mortgage interest available to non-first time buyers from 20 per cent to 15 per cent is also most regrettable as it, too, will act as yet a further disincentive to the property market. The Minster specifically said in his speech that this measure “is not set in stone” and IPAV is calling on him to again seriously reconsider its implementation on further reflection. Equally, the increase in the rate of Capital Gains tax from 20 per cent to 22 per cent will act as yet another block to increasing movement in the current housing market. (See also page 6)

BUDGET 2009 continued Directive (96/82/EC) seeks to protect public safety by placing land-use restrictions on new residential and commercial development near locations where potentially dangerous activities are undertaken. Further details are outlined in the Finance Bill. This scheme is subject to clearance by the European Commission from an EU State-Aids perspective. The cost of this measure is not expected to be significant in 2009 and full year costs will depend on take-up.

FARMER TAXATION Farmers’ flat rate addition The farmer’s flat rate addition is being maintained at 5.2% for 2009. The flat rate is designed to recoup non-VAT registered

farmers for the VAT they incur on their inputs.

Extension of Stamp Duty Relief for Young Trained Farmers Stamp duty relief is available for farmers acquiring land, if they are aged under 35 and have specific agricultural training. The relief is due to terminate on 31 December 2008. This relief is now being extended for 4 years and the relief will apply in respect of instruments executed no later than 31 December 2012. The cost of this relief in 2009 is estimated at €53 million.

Extension of Stamp Duty Relief for Farm Consolidation

consolidating his/her holding. The relief is due to terminate on 30 June 2009 and this termination date will be extended to 30 June 2011. The cost of this relief is not significant.

Farmers’ Stock Relief Provision is being made to renew the 25% general farming stock relief and the special 100% stock relief for Young Trained Farmers for a further 2 years to 31 December 2010.

Farm Pollution Control Relief Provision is being made to extend the 31 December 2008 deadline of the scheme of capital allowances for expenditure on certain pollution control measures relief to 31 December 2010.

Stamp duty relief is available to a farmer

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RE-INTRODUCTION OF PROPERTY TAX TO HIT LOW-INCOME EARNERS BY FINTAN MCNAMARA, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, IPAV In the furore over the Government’s mishandling of the clawback of the automatic right of over 70s to a medical card, another tax has been greeted with almost benign acceptance, namely the €200 levy on all units of residential rented accommodation and holiday homes. We can safely assume that commentators judge that people with holiday homes and investment property will find this painless and this, indeed, may well be true if the tax is a temporary one to fund local authorities. Fintan McNamara

However, we might well draw an analogy with William Gladstone’s introduction of temporary income tax when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer for Britain and Ireland in the late 1860s! Moreover the devil is, as usual, in the detail and it appears that converted properties could now be liable for a combined PRTB registration fee, five sevenths of which goes to local authorities and a new annual levy which, when combined, could be of the order of between €2,000 and €3,000 for many property owners. The Government now appears to be reverting to a form of taxation which is akin to the old rates but this time is levied on houses that provide a home for a significant proportion of marginalised people and Social Welfare recipients, particularly people with poor interpersonal skills, who often prefer the privacy of studio-type accommodation to sharing a house with two or three other persons. Unfortunately for this type of tenant, the availability of this type of accommodation has been halved over the last 15 years and is now down to 30,000 converted houses largely due to the sheer expense in providing it.

It will be interesting to see how Ministers, who on the last occasion refused to financially support those local authorities who went to the expense of taking noncompliant owners to court, will react on this occasion if there is significant avoidance or lack of compliance It is likely, however, that in the not too distant future, there will be agitation from groups representing marginalised people who traditionally avail of this type of accommodation The Government needs to cap the new tax if it wishes to avoid this scenario developing.

LEARN FROM THE PAST In this instance the Government also appears to have failed to learn from past mistakes in relation to local authority charges, in particular the opposition to the £40 registration charge on all units of rented accommodation introduced in 1996. The £40 charge provoked massive resistance among investors and landlords and the compliance level was extremely low. Currently, the Government estimates that at least 200,000 investors can be caught in this net but between 1996 and 2004 when it was scrapped, only 17,000 owners of private rented accommodation, at best, paid the annual fee on rented units Most local authorities did not attempt to enforce the charge or treated it as a low priority. Those who did attempt to collect it had mixed success. In the end it became apparent that the way the charge was structured was manifestly unfair and in fairness to the then Dublin Corporation, they adopted a pragmatic approach. They agreed to cap the fee at £200 per investor. With the introduction of the Residential Tenancies Act, 2004, registering rented units with local authorities was replaced by the compulsory registering of tenancies with the PRTB. However, the principle of a composite fee was retained. The Government might equally have learned a lesson from the Residential Property tax levied on persons who owned and occupied property in the 1980s. The tax was charged at 1.5 % on the excess of the market value of all residential properties and was payable provided the household income exceeded an income exemption limit. The tax was deeply unpopular and urban dwellers, particularly Dublin households, had to make larger payments to the extent that it became known as the ‘Dublin Tax’. Introduced in April 1983, it was discontinued in 1996 before being finally abolished in February 2007.

IPAV CEO Fintan McNamara was invited to address the National Estate Agents Association (NAEA) in the UK on October 9 last. He is pictured at the conference with Peter BoltonKing, CEO, NAEA (left) and Ian Tong, Treasurer.


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ECONOMIC & FISCAL BACKGROUND TO BUDGET 2009 The economic and fiscal background against which Budget 2009 was prepared and presented was the toughest since the 1980s. Irish economic activity has deteriorated sharply over the past 12 months. In the first half of 2008, real gross domestic product declined by 1% compared to the first half of 2007. Jim Power

Investment contracted by 18.9% (largely due to a collapse in house building), and consumer spending increased by just 1.1%. In the first half of the year, the economy technically moved into recession in the sense that GDP contracted for two successive quarters. The economic weakness has persisted in the second half of the year and has in fact intensified in many respects. The key driver of the economic slowdown has obviously been the savage correction that has occurred in the housing market which has had a detrimental effect on the labour market, the public finances, consumer behaviour and overall economic activity. In the year to October, the number of people signing on the live register has increased by 94,600 to reach a seasonally adjusted level of 260,300 and the unemployment rate jumped to 6.7% of the labour force, up from 4.5% at the beginning of 2007. In the first 10 months of 2008, the Government recorded a deficit of €11 billion, compared to a deficit of €3.9 billion in the same period in 2007. Housing related taxes such as VAT were €1.7 billion behind target and stamp duties were €859 million behind. Against this background, the general populace was conditioned for a tough budget that would demonstrate strong political and economic leadership, a clear strategic vision of Ireland’s future, and sound economics. Unfortunately, Budget 2009 failed on all counts and will be

remembered as one of the biggest fiascos since the 1977 general election manifesto. The bottom line is that prior to the Budget there was a distinct lack of confidence in the economy amongst consumers and business people alike. The external environment is distinctly nasty, credit availability is seriously constrained in the ailing domestic banking system and the savage adjustment in the housing market continues to worsen. There was nothing contained in Budget 2009 that will reverse this sense of gloom amongst consumers and business. From a consumer perspective, disposable incomes were already under pressure, and the combination of increased taxes, levies and service charges contained in the budget will just exacerbate the pressures. The 1% income levy on incomes up to just over €100,000 and a rate of 2% on the balance over that income level will take a lot of money out of people’s already stretched pockets. It is not being described as an increase in taxes, but is actually worse than an increase in tax. This income levy, when combined with all of the other revenue raising initiatives such as higher health charges, excise duties, VAT, DIRT tax, car tax, university registration fees and many more besides will just serve to further depress an already ailing consumer. For business, the changes in the timing of tax payments will cause further cash flow difficulties, while the increase in the VAT rate to 21.5% will further undermine competitiveness of Irish business. There is very little contained in the Budget that will encourage job creation and, in fact, it is very difficult to identify any sector of the economy that will be a net job creator over the coming year. The bottom line is that an extra €2 billion will be taken out of the economy next year in extra taxation. In contrast the measures intended to cut spending look less than compelling at this juncture. One of the worrying aspects of Budget 2009 is that despite the severe increase in taxes and levies, the General Government Deficit in 2009 is projected at just over €12 billion, equivalent to a massive 6.5% of GDP. Furthermore, economic growth as measured by GDP is projected to decline by 0.75% in 2009. This appears too optimistic, given the unfolding domestic and external environment and the amount of money that the government is going to take out of the economy over the coming year. It does appear fairly certain at this stage that the economy and the public finances will deteriorate further over the coming months and the Minister for Finance is likely to deliver an even more severe budget at the end of 2009. A mini-budget in the first half of 2009 cannot be ruled out.

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THE HOUSING MARKET All available evidence so far in 2008 continues to suggest very difficult housing and mortgage market conditions; * Latest data from the Central Bank shows that net mortgage credit growth slowed to 8.5% in September 2008, compared to a peak growth rate of 28.1% in March 2006. This is the lowest growth rate since 1987. In the first nine months of 2008, net mortgage credit outstanding increased by €7.7 billion, compared to €12.7 billion in the same period in 2007;

* There is a belief that house prices will fall further so the decision to buy is being postponed; * There is considerable excess supply in the market. It is estimated that there are around 70,000 unsold houses on the market, which is equivalent to around 18 months of stock. Until this stock is eradicated, the overhang will keep downward pressure on prices; * Credit availability is also a major factor dampening demand. Credit conditions have tightened, many mortgage products such as Tracker mortgages have been removed; so even if buyers want to buy, getting the necessary credit is not always possible; * Rising unemployment and a general lack of confidence in the economic outlook are also dampening demand. Looking ahead to 2009, house completions are likely to come in at around 25,000, with around 30,000 likely in 2010. This compares to 78,027 in 2007 and an estimated 50,000 in 2008.

* House completions in the first nine months of 2008 totalled 39,686, which is 29.3% lower than the same period a year earlier; * New house guarantee registrations in the first nine months of 2008 at 11,093 were 66.1% lower than the same period a year earlier; * House commencement notices in the first eight months of 2008 at 18,850 were 50.8% lower than the first eight months of 2007. * Latest mortgage market data from the Irish Banking Federation (IBF) shows that the total value of the mortgage market in the first half of 2008 was €13.83 billion, which is 16.4% lower than the first half of 2007. The First-Time buyer component declined by 28.2%, the Mover-Purchaser component declined

On the price front, the decline of 14% in prices from peak to date suggested by the PermanentTsb index looks way too low. However, this index refers to mortgages granted and given that the bulk of houses are not selling, the index is not representative of the real house price situation. Based on valuations, it is likely that house values have fallen by around 35% to date and it is probable that they could decline by another 10% by the middle of 2009, giving a 45% adjustment from peak to trough. The projected decline of up to 2% in mortgage rates represents a positive outlook for the market over the coming year, but will not be sufficient to offset the other negative forces. It appears clear that the painful housing market adjustment has further to run.

IMPACT OF BUDGET 2009 ON HOUSING AND MORTGAGE MARKET The key changes relating to the property market include: * An increase in mortgage interest relief for first time buyers from 20% to 25% in years 1 and 2 of the mortgage, and to 22.5% in years 3,4 and 5; * The relief for non-first time buyers will be reduced from 20% to 15%; * The introduction of a local authority levy of €200 on all nonprincipal private residences, but this will not apply to new houses; * The extension of the local authority mortgage scheme by increasing the maximum loan available; * A Government Equity Initiative that will assist those seeking affordable housing by taking an equity share; and

by 26.1%, the Investor component declined by 17.3%, the TopUp component declined by 23.5% and the Re-Mortgage component increased by 19.4%. * Data from PermanentTsb / ESRI shows that average house prices fell by 10.6% year-on-year in September 2008. Between the peak of the market at the beginning of 2007 and September 2008, the PermanentTsb index suggests that prices fell by 14%. The housing market correction has followed in the wake of a decade of exceptionally strong market performance, but is nevertheless proving painful for the economy, given the extent of the correction. Almost 11 months into 2008, it is clear from all available evidence that the market is still very weak in terms of new home building, house prices, and sales activity. Buyers are reluctant or unable to buy due to a number of factors:

* In relation to commercial property, the stamp duty rate has been reduced from 9% to 6%. None of these measures are likely to be sufficient to turn or even stabilise the housing market, because the key problems have not been addressed. The problem in the market is one of excess supply and stagnant demand due to a combination of lack of credit availability due to the credit crisis, a seemingly well-founded belief among potential buyers that prices will fall further, and a general lack of confidence in the future of the economy and particularly in the outlook for employment. There is little in the budget that is likely to change these issues so it does appear that the housing market will weaken further over the coming months in terms of prices and building activity, and that the mortgage market will remain constrained. It is unfortunate that the Minister for Finance is being forced to tighten fiscal policy significantly at a time when the economic cycle is in a strong downturn. If spending had been controlled over the past 7 years or so this would not now be necessary. the property professional


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NEW HOME CHOICE LOAN FOR FIRST-TIME BUYERS Minister for Housing Michael Finneran TD recently announced the launch of a new Governmentbacked mortgage for first-time buyers. ‘Home Choice Loan’ is a Michael Finneran mortgage provided through a number of local authorities for first-time buyers who can not get sufficient finance from a bank or building society.

WHAT IS HOME CHOICE LOAN? * Home Choice Loan is a mortgage provided through a number of local authorities for First Time Buyers who cannot get sufficient finance from a bank or building society. * Home Choice Loan will provide up to 92% of the market value of a property purchased. The maximum loan amount will be €285,000. The loan is a normal Capital and Interest bearing mortgage which is repaid on a monthly basis. * The Mortgage Term will be for a maximum of 30 years. * Home Choice loan will only be available for newly built homes. * The Home Choice Loan is a normal Capital and Interest repayment mortgage.

HOW WILL THE HOME CHOICE LOAN OPERATE? * Four designated local authorities, Cork City Council, Dublin City Council, Galway County Council and Kilkenny County Council will act as lending authorities on a regional basis for the entire country. * These authorities will draw down funds from the Housing Finance Agency and lend on to successful applicants from within their own and other local authority areas within designated regions. * The four authorities will be supported by a Central Processing Unit, staffed by appropriately skilled personnel, including qualified underwriters, and operated with administrative


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assistance from the Affordable Homes Partnership. * Recommendations on specific loan applications made by a Central Processing Unit will be made to the relevant authority. These authorities will oversee the conveyancing process, ensure mortgage charges are put in place, that adequate security is obtained and issue the loan. * A Steering Committee will oversee the operation of the system. * A network of approved mortgage brokers will be established. Prospective house purchasers will apply for a Home Choice Loan through one of these brokers.

WHO CAN APPLY? To qualify for a HomeChoice Loan applicants must: * Be a first time buyer (some exceptions may apply). * Earn over €40,000. * Be in permanent employment for two years; If self-employed be able to submit two years financial audited accounts. * Have proof that they have been unsuccessful in securing a sufficient mortgage from a bank or building society to buy their home. * Further information on how to apply will be made available in the coming weeks.

WHAT KIND OF PROPERTIES CAN BE BOUGHT? Home Choice applies to newly built homes only. In addition, the property must: * be acceptable for mortgage purposes

* be in the Republic of Ireland * be for sale on the open market * be a residential property * be covered by Home Bond, Premier Guarantee or equivalent.

GOVERNMENT EQUITY SCHEME * A new single streamlined Government Equity product is to be introduced. In the first instance, this will replace the current approach through which affordable housing is made available under Part V, the 1999 Affordable Housing Scheme and the Affordable Housing Initiative. * Its implementation will introduce greater equity into the system and provide a basis for achieving greater consistency across the schemes and across different areas of the country. * In essence, the Government Equity Scheme would provide a single mechanism through which homes would be purchased by eligible purchasers under all of the schemes of affordable housing for supply (which would continue to operate unchanged as a means of supplying affordable units). The timing of the introduction of an open market component of the scheme will be kept under review in light of developments in the housing market. * In the case of units provided through the affordable housing schemes (e.g. Part V and the 1999 Affordable Housing Scheme), from the buyer’s perspective, the purchase transaction under the new arrangements would be largely unchanged. However, instead of the property being sold subject to a reducing clawback, it would be sold subject to a permanent charge

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involving an obligation to repay an equity stake equivalent to the amount currently allowed as a discount (i.e. the percentage below the market value at which the property is sold). The various affordable housing schemes would continue to operate unchanged as a means of supplying affordable units. * The Government Equity would be registered as a permanent charge against the property, as a set percentage of the prevailing market value. It would remain as a charge on the property until it is fully repaid. The equity loan would be recoverable on sale of the property. * In the final phase, by enabling eligible buyers to access housing on affordable terms in the open market, the Equity

Loan Scheme could replace the Shared Ownership Scheme, which currently enables eligible buyers to purchase a proportion of the equity in a dwelling (new or second hand) on the private market and to rent the balance from the local authority, which is bought out over time. The issue of introducing this “open market” equity loan product will be kept under review in light of changes in the market. A website – – and a phone line providing preliminary details of the product are “live”. Prospective applicants can register their interest now and the final details and arrangements relating to the loan product will be finalised shortly. A nationwide panel of valuers will be in place from 1st December.

MAJOR STEPS FORWARD FOR QUALITY OF RENTED ACCOMMODATION The Government has approved a package of measures that will radically alter standards in rental accommodation. Some of the key elements of this package include: * A phasing-out of the traditional bedsit by insisting that each rental unit shall have its own sanitary facilities * An end to open fireplaces as the sole means of room heating * Explicit standards regulating the external appearance of rental accommodation * Strong sanctioning powers to Local Authorities to ensure compliance with the new standards, including a new power to prohibit a dwelling from being let out until it is in compliance with the standards. A clearer and stronger definition of “proper state of structural repair” will also be introduced making it easier for Local

Authorities to prosecute in cases of substandard accommodation. Minister Gormley said: “Renting as opposed to buying is an option an increasing number of people are choosing, and we need to ensure that strong laws are in place to protect consumers and the public good. The external appearance of rental property is an issue that is regularly brought to my attention by constituents and this package will make landlords’ responsibilities in this area much clearer”.

Some elements of the package will be given effect by legislative amendments to be introduced via the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill that is currently being considered in the Seanad. Thereafter, final consequential amendments will be made to the Standards Regulations, completing the overall package of reforms.

Regulations to give effect to most of the package will be made shortly, with a commencement date of 1 February 2009. These Regulations will apply in their entirety to all new first-time lettings from that date, while existing lettings will be given a four-year phasing-in period to comply with some of the more onerous provisions such as the installation of dedicated sanitary facilities in each rental unit.

IT’S ALL ABOUT LIFE Contrary to what you may think at first, the new best selling book Inheritance and Succession - The Complete Irish Guide is all about life and living it. The message of the co-authors, Wexford based solicitors John G. Murphy and Jason Dunne, is quickly get to grips with making your will or updating it, put an Enduring Power of Attorney in place, make your succession plans, deploy your investments to best advantage and get all those stressful issues out of the way. Then get living.

Family wars, raised expectations and court battles eat up time, energy and friendships which can often end with the lawyers making a huge amount of money at the expense of the feuding families. Professional estate agents /auctioneers will know how to treat each case sensitively and work to resolve problems in tandem with accountants, Government department officials and lawyers. The authors provide a website from which you may download a free Personal Affairs and Possessions List that equips you to talk with any professional adviser. Inheritance and Succession - The Complete Irish Guide by John G. Murphy and Jason Dunne is published by Liberties Press of Dublin, Tel: 01 415 1286 web: and is available in good bookshops nationwide.

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the property professional

TWIN SISTERS AND HUSBAND AND WIFE TEAM AMONG GMIT GRADUATES Twin sisters and a husband and wife team were among the recipients of Certificates in Auctioneering & Estate Agency from the IPAV course run in Galway and Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT). The Certificates were presented by IPAV President Alan Redmond and CEO Fintan McNamara at a function in the SAS Radisson Hotel, Galway on November 11. Sinéad and Sorcha O’Sullivan from the Square, Clifden both completed the two year part-time course and are now working with their father in the family estate agency business. The sisters also are very interested in horses and completed an equine science course in Limerick University.

Twin sisters Sinéad and Sorcha O’Sullivan with their father Matt at the GMIT conferring.

Currently their books include a luxurious 1200 apartment complex in Turkey named Gold City. And, aptly, the girls own a race horse which they have named Gold City! Husband and wife team Matthew and Peri Griffin from Ennistymon also completed the course. Peri already works with well-known Clare firm ERA Leyden Auctioneers in Lahinch. Husband Matthew is involved in a number of enterprises and will now add estate agency to the mix.

Husband and wife team Matthew and Peri Griffin

REAL FIGURE OF UNSOLD NEW HOMES IS 35,000 - CIF Analysis carried out by the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) recently indicates that the volume of unsold new houses in Ireland currently stands at 35,000 units, which is significantly less than the 50,000 now being presented as ‘fact’ in various commentaries on the housing market.

likely that consumer sentiment will improve in the short-term. With just 20,000 houses likely to be built next year, and the vast bulk of these for local authority social housing purposes and for one-off housing in the countryside, the current stock of unsold houses in the market will clear quickly”.

The CIF analysis also points to house price reductions of the order of 30% and to the presence of a significant pent up demand for houses in the market place.

The CIF’s analysis, which was conducted between 1st September and mid October, shows that:

Announcing details of the CIF’s analysis, Director General, Tom Parlon stated: “Our count of unsold new homes puts the figure nationally at less than 11 months supply and in Dublin, at less than 8 months’ supply. These figures contrast sharply with recent reports on the housing market and give a truer indication of likely trends in the sales over the coming 12 to 24 months”.


* In the past 12 months, the average price of a new home has been reduced by 30% in nominal terms and 35% in real terms (when adjusted for inflation) * Despite the significant improvement in housing affordability, the volume of house sales has slowed significantly


* Many prospective house buyers have been unable to obtain sufficient mortgage finance to purchase their homes due to the lack of liquidity in the banking system.

“With the ECB expected to further cut its baseline interest rate within the coming weeks and the significant reduction in house prices that have already taken place, it is

* Based on an average annual demand for at least 45,000 new homes, there is now a significant pent up demand for houses

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* The various estimates of unsold new homes of the housing market are over stated * The volume of unsold new homes nationally stands at 35,000 or less than 2% of Ireland’s total housing stock. This figure represents less than 1 year’s housing supply. This figure is not out of line with the current European experience * In Dublin, there are 10,000 unsold new homes which is less than 1.5% of the City’s total housing stock and less than 8 months’ housing supply Just 20,000 new homes will be built in 2009 and these will be primarily for local authority social housing purposes and oneoff housing in the countryside and some scheme housing.

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CPD Seminars - Picture Special Run in association with

Joe Beashel of Matthew Ormbsy Prentice, Solicitors, speaking on the Anti - Money Laundering Directive at IPAVs Seminar at the Radisson SAS Hotel Galway.


Jennifer Bermingham and Noelle Morrison of Noelle Morrison Properties Cork at the CPD Seminar in Cork

Barry Cogan, Cork City and Samantha Flavin, Dungarvan at the Seminar in the Clarian Hotel, Cork.

Michael Walsh Limerick (left) shaking hands with former IPAV President Richard Nagle at the Cork CPD Seminar.

( l – r): John Gill, Ballinlough,Co Roscommon; James Kilcoyne, Ballaghadereen and Tommy Harney, Athlone at the Galway Seminar.

Paula Rice, SEI Glasnevin Dublin, Joe Beashel, Matheson Ormsby Prentice Solicitors, Alan Redmond, President of IPAV and Fintan McNamara IPAV CEO pictured at the Cork Seminar.

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the property professional

CPD Seminars - Picture Special Run in association with

At the IPAV CPD Seminar in Portlaoise were John Phelan, Killaloe, John Shaw, IPAV Senior Vice-President, Limerick, Alan Redmond, IPAV President and Peter Barry, Mallow.

Anne Bannon, Navan, Ella Dunphy, Kilkenny and Ger McCarthy, Tallaght were at the IPAV Portlaoise Seminar.

John Buckley, Killarney and Des Moloney, New Ross

Pictured (l – r): Philip, Michael and Michael Jnr. Mullery, Prospect Hill, Galway, at the IPAV Seminar in Portlaoise.

Signing in! Pictured at the IPAV CPD Seminar in Portlaoise were (l – r): John Earley, Roscommon; Martin Kelleher, Clonakilty; Fintan Mc.Namara, IPAV CEO and Tim Ryan, IPAV Press Officer.

Paula Rice, Programme Manager, Sustainable Energy Ireland with Derek Tyrell and Pierce Martin of WOWenergy at IPAVs Seminar at the Radisson SAS Hotel Galway.

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the property professional

CPD Seminars - Picture Special Run in association with


(l – r): Peter Kiely, Killaloe, Brian McMahon, Ennis and Richard Flynn, Sixmilebridge at the Galway Seminar.

(l – r) Michael Russell, Midelton, Michael Thornton, Millstreet and Brian Calanan, Clonakilty at the Cork Seminar

(l –r): Sean Joyce, Tullamore, Joe Mc.Donnell, Athy and James McDermott, Carlow were at the IPAV Seminar in Portlaoise.

Roger Leyden, Ennis; Charlie McDermott, Carlow; Colm Farrell, Gort and Liam Downes, Athlone pictured at the IPAV Seminar in Portlaoise.

Jean Daly and Jim Finucane of Finucane Auctioneers, Killarney at the CPD Cork Seminar

Austin Reynolds and Trevor Porter of Property Partners Reynolds (left) with Pat Gallagher and Brendan McGlynn, all from Letterkeny at the Galway Seminar.

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the property professional


While the economy is in decline and the harsh winds of cutback and downsizing are being felt throughout the property industry, three young Mullingar brothers who recently completed IPAV’s education programme are busy progressing new careers in very different areas.

Tim Ryan

Fergal Ryan (30) along with his brothers Ray (28) and Keith (24) are three of a family of eight from Mullingar town. Their father Denis is a retired forestry surveyor who now runs a taxi service and their mother, Patricia, a nurse who hails from Grange – coincidentally, the same County Sligo village as former Senator and IPAV President Willie Farrell. Thus, they had no direct contacts with the property industry while growing up. Having attended the local national and secondary schools in the town they first went different ways in seeking employment. It was Keith, the youngest brother, who first decided to register in the Senior College, Dún Laoghaire and give the estate agency course a try. When he told his brothers they, too, became interested and all three, unusually, registered together for the course. While in Dún Laoghaire, they shared a house with another Mullingar student and friend Chris Taffe who has since emigrated to Australia. “The course in Dún Laoghaire was a really good foundation course in all aspects of auctioneering,” Ray recalls. “Lecturers such as Cecilia O’Flaherty, Kevin O’Byrne and Paula Golden really knew their areas and were terrific at communicating their knowledge to the students. We learned an awful lot from them as we did from all of the lecturers at SCD.” Having completed the certificate course, all three brothers headed on to Cork College of Commerce to do the one year Diploma course which they also found very informative. “That Diploma helped us in lots of ways,” says Ray. “Firstly, we were moving to a totally new city with all the experience which that gave us and secondly, we had a whole new set of teachers and the knowledge which they imparted to us.” All three remember the dedication of the Cork lecturers such as Tadhg Ó Murchú and notably Peter Brady in helping them on their way to their second education award.

BRISTOL From Cork, all three headed without hesitation to the University of the West of England in Bristol to secure the final leg of their educational journey, a degree.


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The Ryan Brothers Raymond, Keith and Fergal

“Again, we had a totally new environment and a whole new set of lecturers,” says Ray. “And we were surprised to discover that our standard of education and training was higher than the students we were joining in University there. That is real testament to the courses in Dún Laoghaire and Cork College of Commerce.” Being from a family of eight meant there was no spare money around and all three worked part-time and during holidays to fund their way through college. “From time to time we were helped financially from home by our parents but by and large we had to fund ourselves,” says Fergal. “It was good training and very good discipline for young students heading out into the world.” Fergal, for example, worked in different jobs rising at one point to a storeroom supervisor at Argus. Keith managed to secure a job in UWE as a supervisor in the campus bar which meant he did not even have to leave the university to earn some money. Having secured their degrees, it was straight out into the working environment where all three secured jobs in very different areas of the property industry. Ray applied for and got a job with Threefold, a leading provider of managed services for wireless network infrastructure in Ireland. The company specialises in the rollout and development of communications infrastructure for many leading telecoms companies. Founded in 2002, the company currently employs approximately 70 staff nationwide. To date it has been responsible for the acquisition and design of over 1500 sites and the construction of approximately 800. Ray’s job which is currently based in Dublin and the north-west extends to identifying potential greenfield and rooftop telecom installations. His initial site surveys take into account variables such as the

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location’s suitablility for required radio coverage, local planning requirements and site accessibility. He then contacts the property owners to see if they are interested in providing a site. If they are interested, he is responsible for negotiating a licence agreement between Threefolds client and the property owner and for investigating legal title on the property in as much detail as is possible. But it does not stop there. When the licence is signed, he continues to liaise between the owner and the planning and construction teams and to attend to ongoing day-to-day issues such as additional information for planning permission. His job necessitates being out on the road three days and in head office in Dublin’s Sandyford estate on Mondays and Fridays. It’s a job he enjoys very much and he intends to gain more experience from it. Long term he says he harbours an ambition to return to study to become a fully fledged surveyor.

AN BORD PLEANÁLA Ray’s brother Fergal chose a very different route. He secured a post in administration with the planning appeals board, An Bord Pleanala. Based at the Board’s Head Office on Marlborough St. he is involved in all aspects of the planning appeals process with the Board. This process involves a number of steps, firstly checking that the appeal is correctly submitted with all appropriate information and details from appellants and objectors. Once verified, the file is sent to the inspectorate section from where an inspector carries out a detailed assessment of the appeal and writes a report which would include recommendations to the Board.

Dublin’s Lower Baggot St., Wyse is now the largest facility manager in the country. The company currently manages 20,000 units based in 200 complexes. Wyse employs approximately 40 property managers and have recently opened their fourth branch in Northern Cross on Dublin’s Malahide Road. “There are many sides to the job,” says Keith. “It’s a multi-functional role involving administration of insurance, routine inspection and maintenance of construction elements as well as dealing with planning issues and requisitions on title. Financial reporting is also an important part of the job.” Keith agrees there is often a great deal of confusion as to what exactly the role of the managing agent is. “We look after the upkeep of the common areas and administration of the management companies. However, managing agents do not get involved with issues from internal areas or individual apartments.” These days the Ryan brothers no longer live together. Fergal bought an apartment in Dunboyne, Co. Meath which he shares with his girlfriend Jennifer. Getting to and from An Bord Pleanala’s office can take quite a while each day but Jennifer works locally and they made the purchase with an eye on the planned rail link to Navan, which will reduce commuting times considerably and the first leg of which is to stretch to Dunboyne under the Government’s Transport 21 programme.

SPORTING FANS They are all modest sporting fans and Keith, for example, likes to play football regularly while Ray often returns to Mullingar to go kart racing with his father in the local Edgworthstown track. For a time the pair were involved in national championships but that got too time-consuming so these days they confine themselves to the local track. None of the other members of the family – four girls and a boy – have entered the property industry although one sister, Catherine, is a mortgage broker with the EBS in Mullingar. They still meet for the occasional pint either in Dublin or Mullingar but they all plan to be together for Christmas with their parents when another sister, Ruth, is due home from Dubai where she is teaching. The Ryan brothers have blazed an interesting path in the property profession and have proved that while the sales end of the profession may be currently hurting, there is vibrancy and a future for IPAV graduates who seize parallel opportunities to carve out stimulating and rewarding careers. What began as a two year Certificate course in Dún Laoghaire has put three young Mullingar men well on the road to success.

Ray rents an apartment off the South Circular Road while Keith is renting in Dundrum.

The third and final stage of the process is the consideration of the report by the Board. This Board may vary from a minimum of three in relatively small cases to a full Board hearing for major appeals. The Board does its best, Fergal says, to process appeals as fast as possible and must reach a decision within 18 weeks. However, at any one time there can be up to 4,000 cases going through the process and the resources can be tested to their limit. Fergal is very happy with his career right now and is looking forward to gaining further experience with the Board. He is one of very few graduates from IPAV’s course to take up employment with An Bórd Pleanála. The youngest brother, Keith, opted for a more traditional career route and works in property management with Wyse. Based in

Former IPAV President Willie Farrell with the Ryan Brothers

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the property professional


The challenging economic climate facing us will prompt consumers and businesses alike to cut costs and find better value from their spending, including spending on fixed and mobile phone services. Auctioneers and estate agents are particularly heavy users of phones and cost efficient use is becoming critical. The Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) is the state agency responsible for the regulation of the electronic communications sector in Ireland. ComReg’s remit covers the fixed and mobile phone markets. In order to help consumers get better value when selecting or changing a phone provider, ComReg has created a price comparison website called which allows consumers to compare the cost of different plans available for their fixed phone, mobile and broadband services. is a free, easy to use and independent website. Many providers offer different types of plans and sometimes it is hard to know if the plan you are on is the one best suited to you.

HOW DOES THE CALLCOSTS.IE WEBSITE WORK? The Callcosts website, is a price comparison website and when you visit the site you will be asked a few simple questions about your usage. will do all the calculations work for you. The website will produce all lists of plans in order of price starting with the cheapest one first.

TIPS FOR USING THE CALLCOSTS WEBSITE WWW.CALLCOSTS.IE For people who want to use the price comparison website to see which provider is offering the best plan for their individual needs, it is worth following these guidelines. * Before you start, look at your phone, mobile and/or Internet usage bills. This should tell you what plan you are on, if any. It will also give you a better idea of


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how you use your phone and Internet. If you have a pre-pay mobile, you won’t get a bill, but most mobiles have a counter, so you can track the number of texts you send and the number of calls you make over a certain time. * If you are not sure of your usage or the type of service you are looking for, you should enter zero or pick the ‘Don’t Mind’ option. This will give you wider cost comparisons. You can always repeat and narrow down your search later if you want. When you are comparing plans in the results, consider other things besides price, such as: * customer service, * billing and payment options and * commitments such as the minimum contract period and terms and conditions. You can see these details when you click the plan details in the results list. * The Callcosts website includes residential (non-business) plans that are currently available. If you are on an old price plan that is no longer available to new customers, your plan will not be in the results. To get details of this price plan, you should contact your service provider. * Remember that the plans listed in the results match the usage you put in the calculator. If you use your phone or broadband more than shown in these results, you might be charged more, meaning your bill will be higher than the price shown. * All prices shown on the website include value added tax (VAT).

GENERAL CONSUMER INFORMATION ComReg provides consumer information about the electronic communications sector through its consumer website This site provides

information more general consumer information. This consumer site covers four main areas. Home Phone, Mobile Phone, Internet and Postal section.

HOME PHONE In the Home Phone section, you will find information to assist you when considering changing your telephone company. You will also find a list of telephone companies providing services to residential consumers. Please note that ComReg cannot recommend one service provider over another.

MOBILE PHONE In the mobile phone section, you will get information on how to switch mobile phone operator without changing your number, how to reduce your mobile phone bill and advice on what are the best options for bringing your mobile phone abroad. Please note that ComReg does not have any regulatory responsibility for mobile handsets.

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INTERNET The internet section gives advice on the internet and broadband, tips for choosing an (ISP) Internet Service Provider and how to compare broadband packages.

POSTAL SECTION In the section dealing with postal matters, you will find information about An Post and all the other postal service providers and ComReg's role in relation to them and the services they provide. You will also find a list of authorised postal service providers.

COMREG CONSUMER GUIDES ComReg has also produced a series of consumer guides. All of the guides are available at In addition to the

callcosts and complaints guides the following outlines a selection of our other top guides: 1. Cold Calls – this guide informs consumers as to what to do if they receive marketing calls against their wishes, also unsolicited faxes. 2. Residential Postal Services – this guide informs consumers of the postal service they should expect from An Post, how to stop unsolicited mail and details about Vat and customs when buying goods abroad and receiving them by mail. 3. Phone and Broadband Contracts – provides advice on entering into phone and broadband contracts and outlines some of main things to “watch out for”. 4. Switching Your Landline Phone Service Provider – offers some details as to the choices consumers have and points to consider if switching.

Pictured here is the group who participated in the recent 7-week course for property professionals run at IPAV’s Head Office at 129 Lower Baggot St. All were presented with a Certificate by IPAV President Alan Redmond and CEO Fintan McNamara. The course will be repeated in the Spring.

€5 MILLION TO WARMER HOMES SCHEME - 12,500 HOMES TO BE UPGRADED Energy Minister Eamon Ryan recently announced that that the Government will spend €15 million this year and next on insulation to make houses warmer for those on low incomes. This will allow these householders to save up to 50% in their energy use. According to the ESRI, approximately 40,000 homes in Ireland are not heated to a safe and comfortable standard. This is primarily due to low income and poor or energy inefficient housing standards. Minister for Social and Family Affairs Mary Hanafin recently announced an 11% increase in the value of the fuel allowance, bringing it to €20 per week from next January. The duration of the fuel season is also being extended by another two weeks from April 2009, bringing it to 32 weeks in total. This is a valuable contribution to those on low income towards heating their homes. While these measures will help those in greatest need over the coming months, the structural issues underlying energy inefficient housing urgently need to be addressed.

ESB AND BORD GAIS For this reason, Minister Ryan doubled the amount the state gives to the Warmer Homes scheme for 2008 to €5 million. He also secured an additional €5 million in the Budget 09 for this scheme. ESB and Bord Gáis are matching this funding with a joint contribution of over €5 million to bring the total for 08 and 09 to €15 million overall. Announcing the scheme, Minister Ryan said, "We know that this winter there will be people who struggle to heat their homes. The Government provides funding to allow people to buy fuel and supplement their electricity expenditure. This scheme is about improving the quality of the homes - in order that heat does not escape through the roof or chimney. This new money will make the homes of those on low income more comfortable and enable them to spend much less on fuel and electricity. In fact, with the full suite of measures householders can save up to 50% of the energy they use and the same amount on their bills. I am pleased to be able to provide this funding to those in greatest need in the cold months ahead and am confident it will improve the lives of our elderly in particular who are the most vulnerable.”

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the property professional

IS IT TIME AGAIN TO INVEST IN PROPERTY? STOCK MARKETS AND BANKS ARE SO SHOT-TO-PIECES AS THE YEAR ENDS THAT PROPERTY IS STARTING TO LOOK LIKE AN ATTRACTIVE INVESTMENT AGAIN, WRITES PETER CLUSKEY IN FRANCE. There comes a time in every property downturn when things get so bad that it has to be time to buy again. So as 2008 limps to a close, the single worst year for the global economy since the great crash of 1929, Peter Cluskey consider this recent headline from The Times of London: “Frightened Investors Pile Into Property”. It’s a suggestion which seems little short of surreal given that it was an over-inflated property market, combined with poor-quality mortgages repackaged as dodgy financial derivatives, which got us into this colossal mess in the first place. But, as Christmas approaches, the bottom line is this: stock markets and banks are so shot-to-pieces that even property is starting to look attractive again. Mark Dampier, Head of Research at UK independent financial advisors, Hargreaves Lansdown, is not surprised: “With property, you can feel it, touch it, see it and live in it, so there’s a certain logic to buying now if you have the cash and can get a bargain –rather than depositing in banks.” The point is that there’s still money out there looking for a productive home – and for those who remain faithful to property there will undoubtedly be plenty of attractive possibilities …

UNITED STATES The key market, of course, is the US. In terms of sentiment, the election of Barack Obama is good news but it’s not enough. The sub-prime fallout has left millions of homeowners facing foreclosure, banks refusing to lend while they try to plug the gaping holes in their balance sheets – and record numbers of houses sitting unsold on estate agents’ books. It has also led to the extraordinary site of potential purchasers being bussed around the suburbs of cities such as Las Vegas and Chicago because there are so many houses for sale at such attractive prices that agents are arranging daily group viewings. Taken with the favourable euro-dollar exchange rate, it’s an ideal time for Europeans to buy in the States. It’s a


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sophisticated rental market, generating good annual returns, and it’s more user-friendly than many European markets because business is done in English … don’t underestimate that. But take your time. According to the S&P Case-Shiller Index of US property, prices will probably continue to fall until at least the end of 2010 – despite President Obama.

UNITED KINGDOM A one-and-a-half percent cut in interest rates by the Bank of England early in November was aimed at giving a much needed retail fillip to the UK economy in the run-up to Christmas. But with mortgage lending by the main banks at an all-time low, the consensus is that even this cut won’t be enough to get the fear-filled property market going again – and further rate cuts are expected in the New Year. On the other hand, as we saw earlier, some investors are now so risk averse that they appear once again to regard property as a more attractive bet than stock markets or bank vaults. Ordinary buyers may not be buying – but bargain hunters are on the prowl. “We are already seeing a huge amount of interest from investors”, confirms Liam Bailey, Head of Residential Research at Knight Frank. “Who would have thought it a few months ago, but as recession bites, bricks-and-mortar are starting to look like the least worst of all the investments on offer.” However, panic in the City is making itself felt. While properties priced between £1 million and £5 million in some of London’s prime residential areas have seen their value falling – the co-called “super-prime” market above £5 million is holding steady, with properties worth £10 million and more increasing in value by 1.2 percent over the past three months.

SPAIN It’s ironic that Spanish banks have turned out to be some of the least exposed in Europe to the sub-prime fiasco which led to the collapse of the financial markets in October. Because long before the sub-prime crisis took hold, the Spanish property sector was in big trouble, over-priced and oversupplied, particularly in the Costas. As a result, there were worries about the extent

to which major construction companies were in debt to the big banks. A few months ago, Morgan Stanley issued this stark warning: “We estimate that a nonperforming loan ratio of 10 percent to 15 percent for developers’ loans would fully erase earnings in 2009 – and would represent between 20 and 30 percent of the current tangible capital base of banks such as Banco Popular, Sabadell and Banesto.” For good measure, the Morgan Stanley economists, Eva Hernandez and Carlos Caceres, added: “A momentous economic slowdown is now underway. We believe the deterioration in Spain is just in the beginning stages – and the bulk of the pain will be suffered in 2009.” In the face of such uncertainty, fire sales have become commonplace, particularly on the Costa del Sol. Estate agents say that even high-quality property is now available at knock-down prices, particularly to buyers who don’t need mortgages. But if you’re out to make a killing, it’s still all about location, location, location.

FRANCE While the crash in Spain has made international headlines, it’s passed almost without note that French estate agencies too have been closing offices in what used to be some of their busiest locations. A survey by the daily newspaper, Aujourd’hui En France, revealed recently that prices have already fallen this year by between 5 and 25 percent depending on the part of the country. Marseille, which has a large stock of new unsold property, is among the worst affected. The volume of sales will be down nationally by 15 percent on 2007, Hervé Bléry, President of estate agents, Century 21 forecasts. There’s a new divide too between Paris and the rest of France. While prices in the provinces have plunged, the capital continues to climb, though by a more modest 9.4 percent to an average price of €6,500 a square metre. So as long as you’re not buying in sterling, it’s a great time to invest in France. Economists say the current correction is not expected to become much more dramatic, given that prices here have never been overheated to the same extent as in Spain or Ireland. Also, there’s no question of oversupply. And as a prime holiday destination, seasonal lets have traditionally generated a healthy rental income.

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RENTS HIT LOWEST LEVEL IN TWO YEARS Rents have hit their lowest level since August 2006 according to the latest rental report from property website In the past three months, rents dropped by 3% on average across the country. The continuing fall in rents is linked to the dramatic increase in the number of properties available to rent. At the start of November, there were over 18,000 properties available to rent nationwide, an increase of 133% on the same period last year. Three of Dublin’s commuter counties – Meath, Louth, Kildare - have been among the most seriously affected, with rents falling more than 5% in the last twelve months. In Kildare, for example, average rents have fallen below €1,000 for the first time since 2006. Elsewhere, Cork and Galway cities have also seen significant decreases in rents, falling 5.3% and 4.1% respectively, while in Dublin, the south and west county

areas have lost almost 5% in the last 12 months. According to Ronan Lyons, Economist with, the current down-turn in rents is closely related to ongoing uncertainty in the broader housing market. “In the second half of 2007, rents were rising at double-digit rates as potential first-time buyers postponed buying as they saw house prices falling. Since then the rental market has been flooded by those properties that aren’t selling, reversing the trend of increasing rents”.

CONTINUE TO FALL He added “2006 and 2007 saw an unprecedented number of new homes built in Ireland - probably over 170,000 in two years. With no shortage of unsold properties, rents can be expected to continue to fall for perhaps another 12 months. Much lower

DAFT.IE LAUNCHES RENT.IE Daft Media, owner of Ireland's largest property website, has announced the launch of a new rentals website focused on students and young professionals, . has been developed as a test bed for new technologies, and to continue to grow Daft Media's overall market share of online property searches. "With over one million unique users per month, drives over 70% of all property searches in Ireland. With such high search volumes visiting the site each month, we wanted a platform to test new technologies, and allow us enhance without negatively affecting such a large user base" said Ciaran Maher, Director of Technology at He continued: "Over the coming months we will be measuring the success of and will integrate any successful features back into". According to Odhran Ginnity, COO at "This is great news for our existing advertisers as it will give them access to a larger audience at no additional cost". "'s audience has gradually gotten older over the last ten years. The largest demographic on now is 30 to 45 year olds who are looking to buy a property. The launch of allows us to focus the site 100% on rentals, and target students and young professionals with a fresh and contemporary design". Daft Media acquired the domain in June of this year for an undisclosed sum and will continue to run in parallel to their flagship title,

numbers of new homes built from 2009 on – perhaps only 55,000 over the course of 2009 and 2010 - should bring Ireland’s property market back into balance.” Dr. Stephen Kinsella, Economist and Lecturer at the University of Limerick, sees the findings as good news for those living in rented accommodation. “Everyone renting in Ireland will feel relief from the familiar pressure of ever-increasing rents. This decrease in rents will help their bank balances, and make them a little richer, and perhaps they will spend some of that extra money, and so help the economy out of the downturn. The rental price drops help those in some of the weakest positions in Irish society: those in need of short term accommodation in a high cost economy, migrants, and those on lower incomes”.

LANDLORDS Residential tenancies must be registered with the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) within one month of the commencement of the letting. Late registrations are subject to a double fee. Registration is a legal requirement. Failure to register may result in a fine of up to €3,000 and / or up to 6 months imprisonment. To register, contact the PRTB, your local authority or Citizens Information Centre for a registration form or download it from

TENANTS Contact your landlord to ensure your tenancy is registered as registration will be important in the event of a dispute in relation to termination, notice periods, etc. Contact PRTB if your landlord does not register your tenancy.

DISPUTES The PRTB operates a supportive, user-friendly and speedy Dispute Resolution Service for landlords and tenants who find themselves in dispute over any aspect of the tenancy. The PRTB’s service is available nationwide.

For further information contact: PRTB, Canal House, Canal Road, Dublin 6 Tel: (01) 8882960 E-mail: Bord Um Thionóntachtaí Cónaithe Príobháideacha Private Residential Tenancies Board

the property professional


the property professional


YOU BUILT YOUR WEBSITE, BUT NOTHING HAPPENED! A website, no matter how good it looks, is still competing with approximately 80 million other websites (nobody knows the actual number!) for the attention of readers sitting in front of their computers. While marketing and advertising campaigns will help, it’s also critical to ensure that your website address appears on every single item of business documentation. Today, many companies are relying on search engines to drive traffic to their sites. Google is the most-used website in the world. When people use it to search for products or services, Google offers a list of what it calculates as the most useful websites. Getting a high ranking on Google is virtually guaranteed to dramatically increase the traffic to your website. Luckily, you can improve your site’s search rankings quite easily: by having good quality sites linked to it, by maximising unique content, by updating content regularly and by making your site as useful and enjoyable as possible for users. There is also a growing number of companies offering Search Engine Optimisation as a service.What is SEO? Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via search results for targeted keywords. Usually, the earlier a site is presented in the search results or the higher it ranks, the more searchers will visit that site. SEO can also target different kinds of search, including image search, local search, and industry-specific vertical search engines. As a marketing strategy for increasing a site's relevance, SEO considers how search algorithms work and what people search for. SEO efforts may involve a site's coding, presentation, and structure, as well as fixing problems that could prevent search engine indexing programs from fully spidering a site. Other, more noticeable efforts may include adding unique content to a site, ensuring that content is easily indexed by search engine robots, and making the site more appealing to users.


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Another class of techniques, known as black hat SEO or spamdexing, use methods such as link farms and keyword stuffing that tend to harm search engine user experience. Search engines look for sites that employ these techniques and may remove them from their indices. The initialism SEO can also refer to search engine optimizers, terms adopted by an industry of consultants who carry out optimisation projects on behalf of clients, and by employees who perform SEO services in-house. Search engine optimisers may offer SEO as a stand-alone service or as a part of a broader marketing campaign. Because effective SEO may require changes to the HTML source code of a site, SEO tactics may be incorporated into web site development and design. The term "search engine friendly" may be used to describe website designs, menus, content management systems, URLs, and shopping carts that are easy to optimise.

speed you experience can be attributed in part to the efficiency of their search algorithm and partly to the thousands of low cost PCs they've networked together to create a superfast search engine. The heart of their software is PageRank, a system for ranking web pages developed by Google’s founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin at Stanford University.



Eye tracking studies have shown that searchers scan a search results page from top to bottom and left to right (for left to right languages), looking for a relevant result. Placement at or near the top of the rankings therefore increases the number of searchers who will visit a site. However, more search engine referrals do not guarantee more sales. SEO is not necessarily an appropriate strategy for every website, and other internet marketing strategies can be much more effective, depending on the site operator's goals.

PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page's value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But Google looks at considerably more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives. For example, it also analyses the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves "important" weigh more heavily and help to make other pages "important." Using these and other factors, Google provides its views on pages' relative importance.

A successful Internet marketing campaign may drive organic traffic to web pages, but it also may involve the use of paid advertising on search engines and other pages, building high quality web pages to engage and persuade, addressing technical issues that may keep search engines from crawling and indexing those sites, setting up analytics programmes to enable site owners to measure their successes, and improving a site's conversion rate.

HOW GOOGLE WORKS Google runs on a unique combination of advanced hardware and software. The search

Of course, important pages mean nothing to you if they don't match your query. So, Google combines PageRank with sophisticated text-matching techniques to find pages that are both important and relevant to your search. Google goes far beyond the number of times a term appears on a page and examines dozens of aspects of the page's content (and the content of the pages linking to it) to determine if it's a good match for your query. Google's complex automated methods make human tampering with their search results extremely difficult. And though they may run

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relevant ads above and next to the results, Google does not sell placement within the results themselves (i.e., no one can buy a particular or higher placement). So, a Google search provides an easy and effective way to find high-quality websites that contain information relevant to your search.

SO HOW DO I IMPROVE MY WEBSITE’S PAGERANK? There are four things you can do easily and cheaply to improve your website’s chances of getting a good rank in relevant search results.

1. Have other sites link to it If you operate any other websites, even blogs or FaceBook profiles, build a link to the website you wish to promote. Go to any relevant industry sites with indexes of links and ask for your site to be listed. Go to specific index sites such as and and submit your site. Write an interesting and relevant article to do with your business area and submit it to an article distribution site such as When your article is published on such a site, it can be republished countless times, every time with a link to your site and a mention for your business.

2. Maximise unique content Even a profile of each of the key people in your organisation counts as unique content. Write about your business, what makes it special. Talk about your place in the industry, using all the relevant keywords that prospective customers will be using in their Google searches. Write articles about your experience, especially the times you’ve been of assistance to customers. Keep your content unique and the search engines will respect your website.

3. Update content regularly Ideally, you should update your website – if only by changing a few words – every day. This is made easier with Content Management Systems (CMS), which are designed to allow non-technical users change website content. If you can regularly add interesting and original content to your website, the search engine spiders will note this and increase your site’s search ranking.

4. Make your website useful and enjoyable Take a look at your website as if you were a prospective customer finding it for the first time. Is it welcoming? Is it easy to find the information you might need? Is it easy to navigate around? Is it easy to contact you

with a query? Would you want to revisit the website? You must be able to answer yes to each of these questions. When you can, the traffic to your website will continue to increase.

Glossary Algorithm – the software equation that search engines use to rate the importance and relevance of your website. CMS – Content Management System, a piece of software which can be built into your website, allowing for the easy updating of content. PageRank – the name of the algorithm used by Google. SEO – Search Engine Optimisation, a process which reviews a website and improves its visibility to search engines. Spider – a piece of software that search engines use to crawl around the internet, indexing web pages. 4PM offers a complete SEO service. For more details, go to Sources:,,,,

MINISTER LAUNCHES NEW WEB-SITE FOR LANDLORDS A new information web-site for landlords, has been launched by John McGuinness TD, Minister for Trade and Commerce. According to John Leahy of “increased regulation of the private rental sector and the diminishing returns in the property market mean that it has never been more challenging to be a successful landlord”. John Leahy (left) and Minister John McGuinness TD

The site is designed to be a one-stop shop for all the information landlords and estate agents need. It aims to walk them through the maze of rules and regulations that now govern the rental market from rules on tenancy registration to the upcoming laws on Building Energy Rating. Some of the most popular features of the site to date have been the ‘first time landlord’ section and the landlord forum where novice landlords can get advice from more experienced landlords. The downturn in the property market has resulted in a significant increase in the number of accidental landlords in Ireland, that is, people who have been unable to sell their properties and who have no alternative but to put them on the rental market. The growth in the rental market as a result of the changed property climate offers a significant business opportunity for estate agents who want to capitalise on this lucrative and very active sector of the market. Leahy states “ is a comprehensive resource for both landlords and estate agents and most importantly the site is free to use”. Speaking at the launch the Minister said: “a site such as that helps to encourage more professional and knowledgeable landlords is to be welcomed and will be a very useful resource for landlords throughout the country”.

the property professional


the property professional

IRISH INVESTORS GET EQUITY FROM OVERSEAS PROPERTIES CASH-STRAPPED PROPERTY OWNERS ARE STARTING TO RELEASE EQUITY FROM OVERSEAS PROPERTY BOUGHT DURING THE BOOM. BY PETER CLUSKEY A record number of ordinary Irish investors have sunk money into holiday homes abroad over the past decade. But as the economy turns downwards, many are finding they need cash more than they need property – and so they are turning to equity release.

expects the cumulative value of loans to have reached €200 million by year three.

mortgages abroad with foreign banks, rather than going to their local bank at home.

“Some people simply need the cash. Others want to generate liquidity from their overseas properties because, having bought abroad before, they’re now seeing new opportunities to buy again when the market is low.

“I’ve been very surprised by how haphazard the international property market actually is,” he observes.


“For instance, because many Irish buyers bought overseas property by mortgaging their family homes, the property they bought was never actually valued – extraordinary though that seems.

“In Ireland at the moment everyone is worth a lot on paper, but nobody has much cash”, says Paul McGlade Jnr, who formerly worked with Ely Properties and last year set up ACAP Group, an overseas mortgage provider carefully positioned to serve a property market in crisis.

“Still others see this win-win scenario: they bought overseas property using their home in Ireland as security, and now they want to pay off their mortgage at home while still keeping their holiday home abroad. Equity release is the quick way to do that, freeing up to 80 percent of the value of the property.”

“Another problem is that inexperienced investors bought properties in developments of, say, 100 apartments where as many as 80 percent of the buyers were Irish. That means that the way things are at the moment, half of those properties can be on the market at the same time – which is essentially a fire sale.”

Over the past 18 months, McGlade – whose father, also Paul, is the Belfast-born entrepreneur who set up Champion Sports in the early Nineties and sold it a decade later in two multi-million-euro deals – has travelled the world setting up ACAP.

Yet despite such stories, the Irish are apparently unstoppable. McGlade is just back from the States where he has secured a 15 percent discount for investors in a package of 20 apartment units at North Lakeshore Drive in Chicago, one of the city’s best addresses.

“When I saw the way the market was going”, McGlade told The Property Professional, “I realised that a lot of the people who’d bought foreign property in recent years would inevitably be trying to sell. “And of course if they weren’t able to sell, they’d be looking for other options such as equity release. I saw that as a big opportunity.” He was right: ACAP Group – – has already facilitated around €30 million worth of loans for some 400 clients this year – and

He has formed partnerships with a total of 350 international banks, from Spain, Portugal, France and Germany to Dubai, Cape Verde, the UK and the United States. The aim is to secure competitive interest rates – particularly in the eurozone – for Irish buyers who want to take out their

“Nine of the 20 are already reserved”, he smiles. “We Irish really love a deal.”

Paul McGlade


DO YOU INSPECT YOUR PROPERTY REGULARLY? If you are a landlord, do you make regular inspections of your property? Most landlords are very busy people and find it hard enough to find time to check the rents are coming in. Jaime McGrane

So, what about regular inspections of the property, are they really necessary? Well, recently, we were called by a landlord enquiring about our services. “ Do you check the property every few months to make sure that the tenants are behaving?”


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We replied “Yes, we do regular inspections, the initial one being after the first monthly rent has been received, to make sure that the tenants are looking after the property. We point out to the tenant unreasonable wear and tear, if any, and remind them they will be liable to pay for it, as was explained to them when we went through the lease on day 1.” “That’s great to hear. I have not been doing checks, and last week I went into my property that had just been vacated by tenants….the carpets were stained badly, the walls are so marked they need

repainting, and the hob was black with grease.” Avoid this situation, do inspections every 3 months and make sure your properties are looked after. It’s your right as a landlord. McGrane Property offers high quality Lettings and Management services to landlords for houses, apartments, flats in Dublin. We are offering a 1 day course on 24th January 2009 to educate, inform and support landlords who rent their own properties. More Info: Tel: 01 5242381 / 087 6421140

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Student of the Year at GMIT Ann Shannon receiving her Certificate from Alan Redmond and Fintan McNamara

Patricia McCarthy, Kilmurray, Kilrush, Co Clare receiving her Certificate

Fenella Boland, Dunkellin, Kilcolgan, Co Galway, receiving her Certificate from IPAV President Alan Redmond and CEO Fintan McNamara

Martin Duffy, Culduff, Enniscrone, Co. Sligo receiving his Certificate at the Galway presentation

Class of 2008! The GMIT graduates who received their Certificates at a presentation ceremony in the Radisson Hotel, Galway with IPAV President Alan Redmond, CEO Fintan McNamara and staff lecturers.

the property professional


the property professional

IS THERE A FUTURE FOR SELF-REGULATION? BY PETER BRADY, CHAIRMAN, IPAV EDUCATION ADVISORY COMMITTEE ‘The times they are a changin’, Bob Dylan. There is no doubt that we live in extraordinary times. In the present market uncertainty reigns and confidence is at an all time low. While some predict the decline of capitalism as we know it, others forecast the emergence of an entirely different model of capitalism. Strange days indeed, when Governments are looking to China and the Middle East to prop up the very foundation of capitalism itself. Who would ever have thought of it? And so what does the future hold for property professionals in general? While they are obviously affected by the state of the market, there are other issues looming on the horizon that will have far reaching consequences for estate agents in particular.

REGULATION: Here I refer to the role of the new Regulator and the brief to regulate the sector, not just by issuing licenses but, it also appears by providing protection for those who are licensed by the authority. It also appears likely that qualifications are going to be clearly prescribed to meet the needs of the various sectors of the market. These are no bad things in themselves but they do pose challenges for the existing professional bodies that represent estate agents. In these changing times, the question arises - is there a role for self regulatory bodies? I believe there is. Representative associations across the entire business sector have contributed significantly to the development of professional standards and customer protection that has served the country well. This was accomplished through the self regulatory system. While acknowledging that this method of regulation has not always been perfect, it is safe to say that it has been an essential


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element in the development of professional standards, practices and procedures across a range of business activities.

SELF-REGULATION Self regulation is a privilege and not a right. The benefit of the system is that it allows members of a particular profession to come together to set standards, not only set them, but monitor them and apply sanctions where necessary. The codes of practice thus designed and agreed are owned by the members of the association. Compliance therefore, is more easily achieved in this environment than one where they are imposed from above. The ultimate responsibility for the code lies with the membership and therefore the response to issues arising in the public domain can be more effectively and efficiently dealt with than in any centralised authority.

membership of an organisation cannot be overemphasised. The possibility of sharing knowledge and experiences is increased and can contribute in a significant way to improved service and quality of product. This is established. Small is Beautiful The question of focus is an important one. The larger the operation, the more diverse are its interests. It is not uncommon to hear professionals in a multidisciplined environment complain of their interests not being served. I am mindful here of some observation made by those involved in estate agency practice in the UK when the Incorporated Society of Valuers and Auctioneers (ISVA) was formally incorporated into the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Some believed that their identity and particular interests were lost among those of the engineers and surveyors etc.



Codes of Practice not only describe practices and procedures to be followed but imply a level of competence, understanding and knowledge on the part of those who subscribe to them. In this context, the most significant contribution made to society by the regulatory bodies lies in the field of education. They provided education and training in the core disciplines long before this task was subsumed into mainstream education.

In an environment where licensing is based on a highly segmented market (the regulator proposes licenses for a range of activities), the question arises: will any new authority be able to provide the relevant education and training required to meet the needs of a changing market?

Indeed to this day, professional standards are highly rated and are seen by many as far more stringent than academic ones. It is clearly evident from current practice that those emerging from our colleges and universities with professional/vocational qualifications will inevitably have to complete some assessment as a condition of entry to an association. This may involve taking extra examinations or some other formal assessment.

CAMARADERIE The bonds that are built up through

These are big questions and pose challenges for those involved in the business. Regulation is important. We are all too aware of that in the current economic climate. Regulation, however, is not concerned solely with issues relating to right and wrong. It has to do with competence, knowledge, practice and procedure, improvement, quality and standards. These are big issues and require partnerships for delivery. Maybe it is a case of re- positioning rather than anything else and it is hoped that Regulation will not mean the imposition of the dead hand of centralism. That, I suggest, will sound the death knell of professional practice.




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