The State's National Asset Management Agency (Nama) is close to signing off on the bulk sale of 69 apartments in Malahide, Co Dublin, to a UK-based investment fund.
A deal has been reached in principle to sell the apartments at The Casino development in Malahide village to SeaPoint Capital, a serial block-buyer of apartments for the rental market.
Some 34 apartments in the complex were sold to private buyers for an average price of €433,000 over the past 2½ years. Nama is selling the remaining unsold apartments in bulk. SeaPoint is the preferred bidder.
The apartments are part of the properties owned by Gerry Gannon, one of the most prolific property developers of the boom-time era, whose loans were sold to Nama.
The average market value of the remaining properties in the Malahide development is between €400,000 and €450,000, valuing the deal at up to €31 million.
SeaPoint's Dublin-based chief executive Kieran Gilmartin said he wasn't in a position to comment.
A spokesman for Nama also declined to comment. The State agency, set up in the wake of the financial crash, is legally obliged to secure the best price for properties in the recovery of loans.
The Labour spokeswoman on housing, Senator Rebecca Moynihan, said proposals being considered by Cabinet today to ringfence a percentage of newly built homes for first-time buyers should be extended to encourage more apartments to be sold to owner-occupiers.
She called on Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien to introduce stamp duty changes to make it less financially attractive for investment funds to buy apartments here, warning of an “oligopoly” in the rental market.
“The Minister should ask Nama to step in and not to sign off on a sale like this,” she said.
Attracted into the market by high rents, SeaPoint has been buying up large numbers of apartments in recent years, including in Dublin city centre, Blanchardstown and Tallaght.