I’ve just returned from the Negative Equity presentation by Frank Fahey, Sherry Fitz and extra special guest, Minister for Housing Michael Finneran.
I’ve always hated people who use the word “sheeple” in internet forums - but I simply can’t think of a better word to describe most of the attendees. Fair dues to the pinsters who tried to inject some realism into the discussion during the Q&A session, but nothing was going to get through the thick layer of entitlement and misguided optimism in the room.
Fahey opened the evening by telling everyone that he had long experience of the property market, and that - although he would advise everyone to do their own research - there was definitely value to be had in the market (he kept mentioning Tuam for some reason - does he have interests there?). He was trying as hard as possible to give everyone the impression that if they didn’t buy now, they might lose their opportunity to “get on the ladder”. It was like stepping back in time to 2006.
The EA from Sherry Fitz went next. He talked about the “fundamentals”. The medium-term outlook for the economy is strong (?). We have lots of young people. Inward immigration is strong (?). There is a “natural” demand for 52K houses per year. There are 10K surplus units in Dublin and about 20K in the rest of the country (???).
Oh, and he foresaw an easing in interest rates and mentioned an easing in interbank lending rates in the last week. He seemed to be saying that this meant the entire market would be roaring ahead again by Xmas…and that we all had a very small window of opportunity to pick up a bargain. Although, again, he mentioned the caveat about doing your own research.
Best of all was Finneran, who insisted again that there was value to be had in the market, and it was a great tragedy that young people couldn’t get at it before it was gone - because the banks were unreasonably demanding massive deposits from them before they’d give out a loan.
So, he said - as though it was his own money he was spending, rather than the tax payers - his department was going to provide young people with the credit they were “entitled to” (I kid you not, he actually said this). He pre-empted the obvious attacks on the Home Choice Loan scheme, saying that the reason it was limited to new builds was because his research showed that 70% of FTBs preferred new builds. This is such an obvious non-sequitur I was amazed he got away with it.
Then, the questions…
One woman in the back (pinster?) made a serious attempt to address Frank’s obvious vested interest. He deflected the question in true gombeen fashion by saying that he was a man who had “improved himself” through good business decisions, and that should be no barrier to a career in politics. The answer made no sense, but it got a huge round of applause from the sheeple (there, I said it). Frank followed up by saying that his shares had lost a lot of value in the last few months - thereby proving that he wasn’t a VI (?). I’m not sure where this admission of financial shortsightedness left his earlier predictions of a nearby bottom in the market.
Another person asked why the government was getting into sub-prime lending, given that the HCL scheme was the very definition of sub-prime. The answer was that it’s not sub-prime, because…well…it’s just not.
The only other challenger, was an older gentleman who tried to get Finneran to admit that this was taxpayer’s money being used to prop up the new build market and that Frank and co. were VIs trying to entice young people into debt. He fought valiantly to get a simple question answered - but was talked over by Fahey and Finneran.
None of the challengers got much, if any, support from the crowd. I seriously think people believed the rubbish that was spouted. I think they were actually happy that Frank and co. were going to help them get on the ladder.
I despair for this country. I thought people were starting to come around, but there was no light of dawning realisation in the negative equity room of the Marriot Hotel tonight - there was only the dying spasms of an entitlement culture that will eventually tear this country apart.
I’m looking at visas for countries that at least try to pretend that they’re run in the best interests of their citizens…