It had been a particular bugbear on here that there wasn’t a property price register available in Ireland, until the IMF frogmarched the Government into introducing a limited register in September 2012 which shows residential property transactions from 1st January 2010. Such delays in providing a basic level of transparency seem inexcusable and all government parties from the 1970s onwards have been guilty of paying lipservice to a register but never delivering it when in office. And the absence of such a register has meant the Government was severely constrained when it estimated the €250m of revenues in 2013 that would flow from its new property tax which was based on property value.
But surely, having engaged an expert group to produce an expert report, and as we found out last week, the expert group engaged the ESRI to produce a sub-report and having known for at least 12 months that it would be introducing a property tax in 2013, surely the Government has robust estimates of the value of property in Ireland.
It seems that the Government estimate of property values is based on incomplete sources and the Government has committed to the new tax, but that it is more or less clueless what the tax will generate, kinda like buying a scratchcard.
In a response to a parliamentary question from the Sinn Fein finance spokesperson yesterday, the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan conceded “No database exists as yet containing the valuations of the housing stock in the State.” and that estimates were based on the transactions in the property price register and one “unpublished Central Statistics Office (CSO) data based on mortgage transactions and the CSO’s property price index” In other words, who knows, and as Minister Noonan says in his response “However, caution should be applied to this approach given the low number of transactions, the high percentage of non-mortgage transactions (i.e., cash transactions) and the possible bias in recent transactions towards transactions of higher quality housing stock which may not represent the generality of housing valuations in the State”
Here’s the full parliamentary question and response, it is shown as a graphic because the table doesn’t easily copy into text.