Here’s a mid-week teaser for you in the form of a multiple choice question:
Q: How many properties has NAMA so far repossessed and sold on foot of defaulting loans?
(1) Thousands, that’s what the monthly NAMA foreclosure lists show.
(2) €6,850,000 worth, because that is what NAMA says in its accounts that it has received on foot of personal guarantees
(3) None whatsoever
Surprisingly perhaps, the correct answer is (3) and that is evidenced by the quarterly “nil” returns in the NAMA reports under the heading “property sold by NAMA in the quarter”. You see NAMA has had receivers appointed who manage assets for the benefit of creditors generally and some developers have handed over an overall total of €6.85m of property that was used to guarantee loans. But NAMA has not itself repossessed any property subject to loans directly.
This oddity might explain the news reported in the Irish Times today that NAMA incorporated a new company, NAMA Asset Residential Property Services Limited on 18th July 2012 with the aim of speeding up the sale of homes for social housing. NAMA hasn’t issued a statement on the development but Olivia Kelly in the Irish Times reports that “the new company will take possession of debtor properties it deems suitable.” So we may at last see NAMA repossessing residential property for the first time.
The development is interesting because it was recently revealed that NAMA has in fact overseen the sale of only 58 properties – understood to be the 58 in the Beacon South Quarter sold to the Cluaid Housing Association in June 2011, 13 months ago – out of a much touted 2,000 being made available for social housing. The Irish Times article hints at problems “involving a range of stakeholders such as borrowers, lenders, receivers and Nama” It might also be said in fairness to NAMA, that it takes two to tango and whilst NAMA can facilitate sales, there needs to be a proactive purchaser also.
With 98,000 families representing 200,000 people on housing waiting lists in the State, any development to fast-track the provision of housing is to be welcomed.
But let me leave you with a puzzler – if it makes sense for NAMA to take possession of homes to be sold for social housing, then why not do the same for other property?