The NAMA chairman Frank Daly is just about now commencing his address to the Association of European Journalists at a Dublin venue. NAMA has issued a press release, which despite citing quite a few numbers, is actually largely substance-free.
(1) NAMA is to develop “significant new office accommodation” in Dublin’s docklands as part of its €2bn investment programme announced last May 2012. This is not new of course, and Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has been harping on about it for some time. The regular audience on here will be seeking actual addresses for development, development contracts, capital spend. But there is none of this in the update today. Environment minister Phil Hogan has recently designated part of Dublin docklands as a Strategic Development Zone and this might speed up planning applications and minimize objections from the precious souls at An Taisce. Frank says today “The SDZ designation will help to provide clarity on the planning objectives of the local authority and represents a significant step forward in terms of unlocking potential investment through NAMA and other sources, and delivering on the development potential of the area in response to the growth needs of the economy”
(2) NAMA is “evaluating” residential projects in Dublin. No kidding. We already know that NAMA is funding the residential development of the Cosgrave’s Dun Laoghaire Golf Club. There is also some construction work going on at Berndard McNamara’s Elm Park in Ballsbridge. House vacancy levels in some parts of Dublin indicate the need for new construction, though construction costs remain an issue. It seems that NAMA has been listening to the words of Property Industry Ireland and Frank says there may be need for an entity at a national level to take a central, co-ordinating, policy development role in relation to the residential property market, particularly in terms of identifying the areas where future housing shortages are likely to arise and how such shortages might be addressed.
(3) NAMA boasts that it “expects to realise about €750 million by reversing asset transfers by certain debtors and taking charges over previously unencumbered assets – up from a previous estimate of €500 million. Money realised from these sources will be used to pay down debts owed to the taxpayer.” This all sounds wonderful but what NAMA isn’t telling you how much of these transfers come as a condition of advancing more than €1bn to developers, and will these new advances mean developers have first dibs on sales proceeds.
(4) NAMA says it has sold €21m of homes with its 80:20 deferred payment initiative – commonly called the “negative equity mortgage”. NAMA doesn’t tell us now many homes that relates to, but it would be 100 homes at an average of €210,000 for example. NAMA has been slashing asking prices at some of its developments and had a cumulative total of 285 properties on the market with their negative equity product which guards against price declines of up to 20% over five years. NAMA says today that “further properties will be included in this initiative shortly”
(5) NAMA is procuring a “major research programme by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) to produce, for the first time, comprehensive information on the residential property market in Ireland – such as the key factors influencing the availability and cost of housing over the medium and long term. This project will benefit people buying houses, investors and the construction industry.” Remember that NAMA has previously given €24,000 to the University of Ulster for research on landbank and development issues in Northern Ireland.
(6) NAMA leaves the best till last. It has made available a €1bn credit line to IBRC, the broke bank put into liquidation by the Government two weeks ago. Apparently Minister Noonan is going to lay the Directions he gave NAMA in respect of the IBRC liquidation before the Oireachtas this week, and they will be closely scrutinized on here, and we may see what the Minister has been up to this time with using NAMA to bail him out (again). But the donation of €1bn was presumably at the behest of Minister Noonan and is to “meet their [IBRC] ongoing funding requirements” IBRC could have a big impact on NAMA’s operations and remember that in August 2013, all unsold loans will be transferred to NAMA. Frank says today “potentially, depending on the scale of loan transfers, the size of our balance sheet could increase by close to 50%”
There is a €35 fee for the event today and that includes a photo opportunity with Frank and the opportunity to ask him a question. The full press release is likely to be available online from NAMA’s PR people, Gordon MRM, here shortly.