Common sense has no place in NAMAland

NAMA has become a behemoth veiled in a cloud of legal and political jargon. David O’Mahony reveals how lives are being put on hold by the agency’s red tape

MY wife and I have been trying to buy a house since March. That’s when we signed the contracts, having been fortunate enough to be cleared for a mortgage.

The house, part of the last phase of a large estate in Glanmire, Co Cork, was due to be completed on June 30. But then NAMA came into play and we were left in limbo.

By the start of June, we were concerned at the lack of progress on the house. I would estimate that it needs a maximum of three weeks’ work, as the plastering and electrical work has been done (apart from a few small bits).

When I contacted the developer, Murphy Construction, in the middle of June, I was told it would be about six weeks late. Despite the fate of most developers in the country, we did not know for certain that the company was in NAMAland, and it had not even been suggested to us that there might be a delay. In fact, my wife had met the site foreman the previous week and he said they would be hanging the doors within a week.

The whole idea behind pushing for a June 30 completion date — which the developer agreed to readily and which was written into our contract — was so we would have the house before we got married on August 6. Even if it was not ready to move into, we would have been able to get it tiled and floored, as well as have the kitchen fitted.

We have paid €11,000 in deposits and more for a kitchen, tiles and furniture, not to mention several hundred for electrical work. The kitchen, which has been paid for, is ready to build. The tiles, which have been paid for, are at my wife’s neighbour’s house.

We only went ahead with all this because we were assured of the completion date.

As things stand, the developer needs working capital to finish a number of houses in the estate. It has needed this working capital for several months, and we have been waiting just as long.

After weeks and weeks of to-ing and fro-ing, NAMA told the developer that it would contact them with a decision last Friday. It did not, and still has not.

There are at least eight other buyers in the same situation in this estate. If everyone was paying broadly the same price as us for their house, it means NAMA is holding up about €2 million worth of property deals.

Murphy’s has told me it has over 50 properties it is trying to sell, but can’t because of NAMA. I couldn’t even begin to put a value on those — but if this is how one developer is faring, you can imagine how many sales are in limbo. Surely, it would make sense to sell properties sooner rather than later, thereby generating revenue for NAMA and some working capital for the builder.

But I fear common sense has no place in NAMAland.

While I wish the developer had been more forthright about the obstacles, at this point the company is as stuck as we are. NAMA is a law unto itself.

We have been in limbo for months, with no indication that salvation is near. We cannot be the only ones at their wits’ end.

All we want is our house, so we can build a home like any other married couple. It should not be this difficult — but NAMA has made it so.

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