Nama initiative is ‘a bit of a kick in the teeth’

For those who bought during the boom in what are now Nama pilot estates, 80:20 is disappointing, writes Louise Roseingrave

RESIDENTS of a Cork housing estate where Nama’s 80:20 deferred payment initiative will be piloted feel the Government needs to do more for those in negative equity.

Three houses will be offered for sale in Ardfield, Grange, near Douglas; a development built by Fleming Construction shortly before the firm went bankrupt.

Carl O’Mahony, 32, a non-commissioned navy officer, bought his three-bed semi-detached home in 2007 for €340,000. “I bought at the worst time. This news is a bit of a kick in the teeth. It’s disappointing.

“I’d wish the new owners of these houses all the best, they are the lucky ones. We just paid way above the odds.”

Banks and the Government have a responsibility toward homeowners in negative equity, Mr O’Mahony said, because the situation was the result of reckless lending.

But his expectations are low.

“Take the residents of Priory Hall for example, for whom nothing is being done. Why would the banks or the Government do anything for me when I still have a roof over my head?

“A house next door here sold for €200,000 in January. And more luck to anyone who can buy these houses for less than I paid.

“I suppose you just have to remember there is always someone worse off than you.”

Dr Gabriel Leen, a senior research fellow at University of Limerick, lives a few doors away in a house his wife bought before they met and married.

“Most people’s immediate reaction to this scheme will be to jump to the conclusion that it’s unfair on those in negative equity.

“But your house is not really an investment, it’s a place to live, a necessity. People need to purchase a property with their eyes open. The true value of anything is subjective,” he said.

Primary school teacher Mary O’Shea, from Ardfield Drive, welcomed Nama’s pilot scheme as a “great idea” but admitted her attitude would be different if she planned to sell her home.

“I’d rather see those houses lived in, they have been idle for four years. Having said that, it would be a different kettle of fish if I was selling,” she said.

For one mother of one, who bought her home for €275,000 in 2005, negative equity of about €100,000 is a trap. She lives with her husband and young son but did not wish to be named.

“I’d prefer to sell and move closer to my family but I can’t. It has crossed my mind to just hand back the keys but that’s not really an option either. We are lucky because we both have jobs, but like many families around the country, we are stuck,” she said.


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