Last week, there was a blogpost on here on NAMA’s prohibition on sales to defaulting developers. The prohibition stems from the NAMA Act. The NAMA chairman Frank Daly has raised the prohibition as a potential problem for the Agency in realizing its commercial objective. When asked how much NAMA was losing from the prohibition, this was the response via the responsible minister
“As NAMA is not permitted to sell assets to borrowers in default, neither I nor NAMA are in a position to assess the potential foregone profit (if any) if NAMA were permitted to sell assets to borrowers in default. “
Sir Humphrey, the archetypal civil servant whose obsession in his fictional life was to avoid commitment and metrics which could come back to bite him on the bum.
NAMA was criticized in the Michael Geoghegan review in 2011 for not being commercial enough. The Agency reacted by appointing, with Minister for Finance Michael Noonan’s approval, its most senior property man, John Mulcahy to its board and there were some other organizational changes, nothing earth-shattering, but the new NAMA advisory board chaired by Michael Geoghegan has apparently declared itself satisfied that NAMA is now “commercial”
Has anyone tried searching foreclosed properties on the NAMA website recently? Now, NAMA knows that this is the most popular feature of its website. People want to know what property is potentially available so that they can contact receivers, and try to buy or develop the property. Last July 2012, NAMA made changes to its foreclosure list which is updated once a month, usually in the last week or on last working day in the month. On the face of it the changes gave users the opportunity to better search the NAMA database, but in practice, the errors in the database – documented here and here – mean that users still want to see the entire list, and not have to search through 150 pages of NAMA search results to see what is new. They also want to do their own searches and analyses and not be constrained by what NAMA offers.
I know this because of messages received on here.
But don’t take my word for it, when Gavin Sheridan’s thestory.ie website hosted a spreadsheet of the latest data that could be sorted and analysed as the user wants, NOT how NAMA wants, the spreadsheet was linked to on here, and in the past month, according to statistics on this blog, there have been 1,213 click-throughs. Yesterday on Twitter, Gavin confirmed to me that thestory.ie had “easily” received over 1,000 click-throughs in the last month. By contrast, there have only been 292 click-throughs from this website to the NAMA foreclosure search facilities.
NAMA however says that “feedback from users” means that they won’t be providing this functionality – the abilty to download the entire foreclosure list and a search by “dated added” facility. The shadow of Sir Humphrey looms…
So, NAMA, it’s not difficult. Just provide a slight addition to your website – allow the entire database of foreclosed property to be downloaded in a searchable format, Excel or a spreadsheet would be best. And better still, when you update your database, just add in a new field, the “date added field” and allow searches or sorting on that field.
In the Dail last week, the Sinn Fein social protection spokesperson Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked Minister Noonan about the functionality of NAMA’s website. This is the full parliamentary question and response.
Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: To ask the Minister for Finance the reason the National Asset Management Agency no longer produces a comprehensive monthly list of foreclosed property in a manner which would allow potential customers to easily see the additions during the month..
Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan: NAMA advises that, based on user feedback, the majority of users of its enforced properties website are interested in properties that are available within their own geographical areas for rent or purchase. NAMA has, in response to feedback from these users, significantly enhanced the functionality of the enforced properties website to enable interested parties to interrogate the listing of properties in a much more informative way. In particular, the enhanced functionality includes the facility to search for properties by property type and county/area and includes links, where applicable, to sales brochures.
NAMA further advises that the enhanced website includes the option to search all properties that are subject to enforcement, including new properties which are added on a monthly basis. A user, therefore, interested in acquiring a property in a particular area is advised to re-visit the site on a regular basis to ensure that he or she has access to the most up-to-date data.