Sir, – In your commentary piece (Cantillon, March 13th) you state: "They [estate agents] have never been good at detecting medium-term trends."
This resonates with another article headlined, “Do not listen to estate agents, house prices will go down, not up” (Business, February 10th). This well-argued piece descended into a blanket criticism of the profession of auctioneering.
It stated, “none of them predicted the crash in 2008”.
None among us are prophets. Would that anyone could with any degree of certainty accurately predict property prices in the medium to longer term. However, in the context of your repeated commentary, I feel compelled to point out that our organisation, the Institute of Professional Auctioneers & Valuers, in May 2003 delivered a presentation to an Oireachtas committee, which was in retrospect quite prescient. It highlighted that the yawning gap between demand and supply had narrowed significantly. We warned: “It is desirable to create a policy environment where house-price inflation grows at a more sustainable pace and where mortgage debt does not increase to dangerous levels for individuals and the overall economy. Above all else it is essential to prevent a negative equity situation from developing”.
In our 2014 budget submission we predicted house values would rise and cautioned that in some areas prices had spiralled upwards by as much as 40 per cent. We suggested a series of measures to mitigate that including a rent-to-buy social housing scheme, a new form of mortgage insurance, and a reins being applied to Nama to stymie an excessive number of properties being sold in blocks to funds squeezing first-time buyers and others out of the market.
IPAV was first to correctly identify in 2018 that several areas in Dublin were experiencing price drops for the first time in five years. While the law stipulates that agents must strive to achieve the best price they can for those who engage them, our policy has long been to try and influence the development of a sustainable property market.
A volatile market does not serve anyone’s needs – be they a buyer, seller, renter, lender or estate agent. We do not claim to be infallible. However, we do often get it right.
I would respectfully suggest that if more in a position to influence housing policy were to listen to our proposals and not automatically assume our motivation to be self-serving, or conflate it with other interests we may not still be in the grip of a dysfunctional property market. – Yours, etc,
Institute of Professional
Auctioneers & Valuers ,