Baby boomers distorting housing market, agency claims

Cash buyers likely to withhold second homes from rental market, says Conor Skehan

People benefiting from rising property prices will complain their offspring cannot afford to buy houses in the current market, says Conor Skehan. Photograph:  Nick Bradshaw

People benefiting from rising property prices will complain their offspring cannot afford to buy houses in the current market, says Conor Skehan. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Rich “baby boomers” must share the blame for housing shortages and escalating prices, the outgoing chairman of the Government’s Housing Agency, Conor Skehan, has said.

People who bought their own homes, and often bought second homes, from the 1970s to the 1990s, before the escalation in property prices, have helped to push up prices and are restricting the availability of housing to rent, Mr Skehan said.

“Baby boomers are part of a housing market distortion that’s happening all over the western world. They have this enormous amount of money, they’re very interested in property and they regard property as a particularly cosy thing to dip into,” he said.

“An awful lot of Irish Times readers are owners of a second house, and probably a holiday home as well and they are, unwittingly, part of what is creating a shortage of availability of housing.”

Property owners with low, or no, mortgages on these second properties are less likely to make them available to the rental market he said.

Underutilised properties

“They are underutilised properties. If you’re buying something for cash there’s far less incentive to rent them than if you are making a mortgage repayment.”

The same people who are benefiting from rising property prices will complain that their offspring cannot afford to buy houses in the current market, he said.

“People who have property are happy to see the price of their house appearing to go up. The same chattering classes at the start of the dinner party will say how outrageous it is that ‘Cabáiste’ and ‘Oráiste’ can’t get themselves a house, but by the end of the conversation they’re smugly saying the house next door went for €1.2 million,” he said.

“The readership of [The Irish Times] needs to look into their own muesli and ask themselves am ‘I part of the problem or am I part of the solution?’”