Week 3 of economic and social hibernation; long gone are the ‘business as usual’ emails.

Please know that as I write this, I am profoundly mindful of the human cost of this pandemic. The Irish Government has been strong in terms of compassionate response, tough decision-making, clear communication and taking critical action. For our part, the Irish public has been largely sensible and compliant – with some well-publicised exceptions (like the Kildare chap who drove to the Wicklow coast to climb the Sugarloaf mountain “because he had never climbed it before”…). But we must remember that government resources come largely from businesses that pay tax and that employ people who in turn pay a whole range of further taxes. It is imperative that those who are healthy and in a position to keep the economic activities of the country going do so.  Some businesses and indeed some industries are better placed to do this, they have the advantage of a digital offering.

For real estate, we have been hearing a lot about the advances in technology in recent years, but now these new technologies are being thoroughly tested. How are they faring? You tell me…

Earlier this week TheJournal.is ran a property market news story with the headline: ‘It was shaping to be a very strong year’: How will the coronavirus crisis impact people buying houses? The article refers to the state of the marketplace coming into 2020, surmising that the market was growing, after a period of slowdown caused by Brexit uncertainty, and that demand still surpassed supply.

Only days ago, MyHome.ie published its quarterly report which showed a 0.7% increase in the price of an average home and a 6% increase in the number of transactions taking place.

This is all somehow reminiscent of the market commentary during the crash, a constant referring back to the last known point of certainly. It is understandable but largely unhelpful. No one amongst us has a crystal ball, the reality is that we just don’t know what to expect at this stage. On a practical level, people always need a home. The big questions at this stage must surely be around how prolonged this ‘shutdown’ will be and how this is likely to impact employment, job security and salary levels. All of these factors feed into affordability and, irrespective of any commentary about previous market equilibrium, Ireland had not cracked the affordable housing issue, for sales or rental. As the market is currently disrupted, now is the time to address challenges such as affordable housing, conveyancing delays caused by an antiquated process, restrictive mortgage lending practices and many others.

For now, it would be naive to think that would-be home buyers or private investors at early stages of a purchase will proceed as planned, some might but the majority will not.

During this time, we need to keep the planning system operational. We need for developers to digitally market their offerings, we need for estate and letting agents to virtually showcase the properties they have in their charge, in hopeful expectation of a resumption of business over the next month or two. And we need for conveyances to proceed in a timely manner. It will not be easy but we all must do what we can.

Take care folks.

Ian Lawlor
086 3625482

Director / Business Development
Lotus Investment Group