Taoiseach: Purchase of an entire estate by institutional investor  'unacceptable'

Opposition says there is 'policy to incentivise and support these private funds to buy up housing, right across the State'
Taoiseach: Purchase of an entire estate by institutional investor  'unacceptable'

Taoiseach Micheál Martin: Our priority is first-time buyers. Picture:Gareth Chaney/Collins

The Taoiseach has said the purchase of an entire estate in Kildare by an institutional investor is "unacceptable".

Micheál Martin was challenged on the issue after the Sunday Business Post revealed that 135 three- and four-bed homes in an estate in Maynooth had been purchased by Round Hill Capital.

The developers of the Mullen Park estate in the Kildare town had been marketing the homes to private buyers since last year, with around 35 sold so far.

"First of all, I state unequivocally that the purchase by institutional investors of completed housing estates is unacceptable, and not consistent with government policy," Mr Martin said.

"We do not want institutional investors, competing with first-time buyers.

Our priority is first-time buyers.

"That is the bottom line as far as this Government is concerned, and institutional investment was brought into the country over eight years ago through various measures to add supply, not to displace supply, and that is the critical differential point.

The Taoiseach said that the "Government will examine now what has transpired over the weekend, in respect of this housing estate being purchased by an institutional investor — that's not acceptable to Government".

He said he spoke to the finance minister, minister for public expenditure, and the housing minister about the issue to "ensure that the purpose and objective of inward investment in the residential market is to add supply".

"Originally, the intention was to facilitate, in terms of high-density, build to rent a number of years ago in the cities," he said.

Mr Martin said that "capital is important in terms of getting supply into this country".

Both Sinn Féin and the Social Democrats called for government action on the issue saying institutional investors had been given the chance by Government with a "policy to incentivise and to support these private funds to buy up housing, right across the State," Mary Lou McDonald said.

Red carpet treatment

"Indeed, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have rolled out the red carpet for them with a range of sweetheart tax advantages. These funds pay no corporation tax, they pay no capital gains tax and minimal stamp duty. They also charge some of the highest rents in the state, and they pay no tax on that," the Sinn Féin leader said.

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy said these sales were "displacing individuals and families from purchasing a home".

"Since 2018 nearly €4bn has been invested by global funds in the Irish residential market.

"In 2019 international funds bought a staggering 95% of the apartments that were constructed in that year. How are all the buyers forced to scrimp and save for a mortgage supposed to compete with this?

Ms Murphy said: "There is no mystery as to why these funds are here outbidding ordinary buyers because they are being advantaged by the state."

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