Protest at distressed property sale


The third distressed property auction held by Allsop Space took place today and while it drew another large crowd to the Shelbourne Hotel, a substantial number of the properties failed to sell.

A total of 56 lots were sold out of a total of 67. This is an 84 per cent success rate compared to a hit rate of 97 per cent in the earlier auctions.

The top lot was 64/65 Prussia Street in Dublin 7 which was made up of an entire development of 14 apartments and four commercial units. It went under the hammer for 1.15 million. A riverside period house with private jetty and slipway in Rooskey with a maximum reserve not to exceed €50,000, went for over double the reserve at €107,500.

David Glennon, a 31-year-old first-time buyer bought a red-brick period property on Rathgar's Waverley Terrace in Dublin 6 for €459,000. He paid in cash after receiving a settlement for an accident he was involved in four years ago which left his left arm all but completely paralysed.

"My heart started to beat a bit faster when the bidding started, definitely," the former truck driver told The Irish Times. Going into the room he said he would spend no more than €450,000 but spent €9,000 more than that.

He said he was unconcerned about investing in property in the current climate. "The worst that can happen is that it will fall in value by 5 per cent but over the long term it is a sound investment. Give it 10 years and it will be worth €5m."

It wasn't all smiles however. A small group of protesters gathered outside the hotel, Among them was David Hall from the New Beginning group which is made up of lawyers, business people and concerned citizens was among 15 protesters as the auction got under way.

"It is sickening to think that there are lots on sale that did belong to families and were repossessed," he said. "There is a human story behind many properties selling today and we are here to remind people that the people behind these stories are not just numbers in an auction lot."

Space director Stephen McCarthy accepted there were some sad stories behind some lots. "I am very conscious of the stories behind some of the lots and very aware of the pain involved in someone losing their home." However, he stressed that none of the houses on sale had been forcibly repossessed. “Ultimately, our job is to get the highest price we can which will narrow the gap between the selling prices and the sums owed."

Robbie Marsh was also part of the protest. In 2007 he bought a house in Drimnagh and paid €350,000 for it. He said the house was repossessed by his lender despite him fighting hard to save his home. It was sold against his wishes for €150,000 and he still owes his lender €230,000. He described the stress of the debt as unbearable. "The idiots in the Dail don't realise that people are in real pain," he said

Inside the mood was more upbeat. Two bidders were clearly amazed by the prices. "Jaysus, they were looking for 40 grand for the parking spaces in that complex four years ago," one whispered to the other when an apartment in a IFSC complex came up for sale. "And people were happy to pay those prices, too," his friend said. The apartment - including a parking space - eventually sold for €167,500 or just four parking spaces at the height of the boom.