Thursday, September 17, 2009

Don't bet on property returns

One of the biggest problems with Nama is the presumption that the property market will one day recover. Why should it? Every day people are leaving the country. Each person who leaves is one less residence we need, one less apartment or house. And when they leave they take their spending with them, which will only add to our troubles and encourage more to leave.

Our boom was made by (a) a booming American economy and role as the 'gateway' to the EU for American companies, (b) cheap credit from an economically stagnant Europe, and (c) cheap labor from E. Europe. None of those three is likely to return to levels like those we experienced between '02 & '06.

We could stagnate for some time and all the while people will continue to leave. If the UK economy picks up even slightly young people looking for opportunities will be drawn there. America will be a real possibility if the visa swap scheme actually comes to pass. Australia's Chinese-funded boom will attract some Irish people too. And so on. We all know the drill.

I expect the population here to decline for a number of years, which means it's entirely possible that all the undeveloped property that the state takes in through Nama will NEVER be developed.