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The Irish squatters taking on empty homes and a bankrupt system | Business. As Ireland reels from yet another austere budget and a year of economic pain, a group of young activists have begun to take over empty properties spawned by the boomand abandoned by banks and property developers across the country. The squatters, linked to Ireland's Occupy movement, say they plan a mass occupation of houses and flats owned by the Irish government's "bad bank", National Asset Management Agency (Nama), which took over thousands of properties that speculators handed back after the crash.

Led by a 27-year-old Irish-language speaker and graduate from Galway, the group has already squatted a house on Dublin's northside that was worth €550,000 in the boom but is now put at under €200,000. Since the property has been empty for several years, Liam Mac an Bháird and his friends occupied it in the autumn to highlight homelessness, as well as the way builders and banks were bailed out by the taxpayer. "Our occupation is a way of making a point about the system we are living under.

Authorities refused to publish house price warnings in 2004. This post was written by Frank Barry Anthony Murphy, now at the Dallas Fed, is a renowned Irish econometrician with a strong research interest in housing markets. Back in 2004 he was commissioned by the National Competitiveness Council to study the competitiveness implications of the housing boom. The first paragraph of his report read: “Ireland’s booming housing market has attracted and continues to attract a considerable amount of attention, both domestically and internationally.

Irish house prices are extremely high by historic and international standards, both in absolute terms and relative to incomes. The strength and duration of the house price boom is unique. Many other countries and regions have experienced large house prices booms. However, at least in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, most of these booms have ended in a house price bust.” The report, which is here, was obviously written in very judicious language but was highly critical of the fiscal contribution to the boom. Ireland's house prices at lowest levels since 2000 | Business. Houses in Dublin, where prices have crashed in the past five years. Photograph: Barry Mason/Alamy Property prices in Ireland are in freefall, according to housing analysts, whose latest figures show that prices in Dublin have collapsed by 65% in five years and by 60% across the country. A house price index released by the largest residential sales group – the Sherry FitzGerald Group – found that the pace of deflation has sped up in Dublin, while prices across the country are now at levels last seen 11 years ago.

The group, which has been surveying a weighted basket of 1,500 properties since 1999, said residential property in Dublin was now worth 64.2% less than at the 2006 peak, with a national fall of 58.8%. "There is no doubt the market is over-correcting," said Marian Finnegan, chief economist at the Sherry FitzGerald Group, with house prices now making it cheaper to buy than to rent. Irish banks face mortgage strikes | Business. It's been a tough time to be Irish. The boom years are a distant memory and now there's just austerity and a long haul back to recovery for a nation crippled by the reckless lending of its banks. But, a year after the country was forced to call in the International Monetary Fund (IMF), there is a sign that the people are fighting back and targeting the hated lenders with the "nuclear option" of a mortgage strike. Ross Maguire is the co-founder of New Beginning, a new de-facto trade union for Irish mortgage holders and those in debt distress with banks, which aims to recruit 10,000 members in a movement that has strong parallels with the Occupy protests that have swept through scores of countries.

"The nuclear weapon is for borrowers acting in concert and to say that unless proper and sustainable solutions are put in place which are fair and reasonable, then we should not continue to pay under these current conditions," he says. Hostility "They had changed his occupation. Disgusted. Central Bank of Ireland - Central Bank Publishes New Research on Mortgage Arrears and Negative Equity. The Central Bank of Ireland today publishes new economic research on “The Distribution of Property Level Mortgage Arrears”. The research analyses the position of mortgaged households in the areas of arrears and negative equity. The analysis in the paper draws on loan-level data collected for the March 2011 Financial Measures Programme Report.

This data records the arrears position of each of the loans in the four institutions’[i] books as at end-2010. The key findings of the research, which analyses over 600,000 loans and €87 billion of outstanding mortgage debt, are as follows: As at end-2010, 56% of mortgages in arrears over 90-days were in the four institutions covered by the Financial Measures Program. [i] (AIB, BoI, EBS and IL&P) London property bubble is good news for NAMA | Business. As shares across the globe tumble investors are fleeing to safe havens such as gold and the Swiss franc.

But they are also turning to trophy properties in London, which is why the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) may have been right earlier this year when it let slip it was launching a £16.5bn firesale of all its London properties which include the Citigroup tower in Canary Wharf, part of Leicester Square and the Louis Vuitton building in Bond Street.

Critics believe the Irish bad bank would have been better holding on to London assets for the long term as yields on rent and prospects for capital growth are good, unlike Dublin, where offices lie empty throughout the city and chances of price increases are nil to slim over the next five years. But it turns out this week that NAMA is looking very prescient. "The relative lack of caution in the real estate capital markets is a concern. It is remarkable how quickly capital has returned to real estate. Ireland’s speculative mania. Morgan Kelly warns of new middle-class debt default | Business. An Irish academic best known for correctly calling the property crash four years ago has raised fresh concerns over a potential tsunami of debt default from "high rolling" professional classes.

Professor Morgan Kelly said there is about €11bn (£9.6bn) tied up in domestic loans that were handed out to lawyers, doctors and estate agents for homes they can no longer afford – loans the banks are not counting as problematic. His numbers refer to high-end properties in salubrious parts of Dublin and elsewhere which were snapped up at the peak by the well-heeled; they do not refer to the 165,000 buy-to-let mortgages, many of which are in danger of default. Kelly claimed that 10,000 loans of an average of €1.1m each were handed out during the boom to the "high-rolling" middle-class professionals, many of whom "could barely afford to buy you a cup of coffee now". And he predicted the government's debt pile would peak at €250bn in 2015 because of uncounted mortgage defaults. Irlande: le pays des maisons fantômes. Leur nombre n'est pas encore connu précisément, mais le phénomène lui est tristement célèbre en Irlande.

Les "ghost estate" ont fleuris un peu partout à travers le pays: des logements construits en nombre et aujourd'hui simplement abandonnés. Un fonds de 5 millions d'euros a été mis à disposition des autorités locales, par le dernier gouvernement pour régler le problème des "ghost estate". Des complexes immobiliers construits dans les années 2000 et aujourd'hui abandonnés, souvent mal ou pas entretenu. Ils ont été estimés à près de 2800 par un rapport du Ministère de l'Environnement en octobre dernier. Cela n'inclut pas les 20000 chantiers qui n'ont jamais été terminés et les 23000 maisons terminées mais inoccupées.

L'insalubrité guette Dans le courant du mois de février, un autre rapport montre que près de 400 bâtiments abandonnés sont vétustes à deux doigts de s'effondrer. Les restes du Celtic Tiger Rembourser la dette des banques. Ireland Sets Up Its 'Bad Bank' Agency. Ireland's little secret - tracker mortgages | Business. No soothing mood music from Bank of Ireland concerning mortgage holders who are in difficulty. Unlike Allied Irish Banks, which earlier this week said it would consider debt forgiveness for those who are struggling to keep up with payments, Bank of Ireland said at its annual results it will not pursue any such policy.

But the good news is that it isn't whingeing about its loss-making tracker mortgages, unlike Permanent TSB which is about to start offering customers cash to get off these mortgages. (I've heard of one "friend of a friend of a friend" who has been offered €130,000 to get off a tracker worth the guts of a million). Tracker mortgages are typically about 1% above the European Central Bank rate and are Ireland's dirty little secret – few own up to having them because their mortgages are rock bottom while everyone else on a variable rate is suffering. And that doesn't make nice dinner party conversation when poverty and debt is so in vogue. Bargain time as thousands of houses to be sold - National News, Frontpage. BARGAIN hunters will be tempted by thousands of cut-price houses and apartments over the coming months as NAMA offloads a huge stockpile of assets. Finance Minister Michael Noonan yesterday ordered the agency to start selling both commercial and residential property -- worth up to €2.7bn -- as soon as possible.

NAMA will sit down with Ireland 's leading banks within the coming fortnight to organise finance for purchasers. The aim is to kick-start the beleaguered property market and provide a "floor" for prices. However it is a calculated risk, because NAMA could flood the market with cheap properties to the detriment of other sellers. The agency has direct or indirect control over more than 10,000 apartments and an unknown amount of houses. "The properties will be sold at prices people are prepared to pay, not what sellers think they are worth," a NAMA source said. All but two of the 82 properties sold, and raked in more than €14.5m. for six receivers and their bank clients. Irish Independent.

Repossession: why we need a new bank directive | Business. A new solution for mortgage arrears at under-pressure Irish banks? Photograph: Peter Morrison/AP Debt relief for ordinary homeowners rather than developers is centre stage in Ireland at the moment after new central bank figures show one in nine mortgages are either in arrears or restructured.We won't know until the end of the month what solutions the government will propose. But with the report by the government's expert group on mortgage arrears hurtling towards us, it might be useful to consider a few worked examples of debt restructuring as and when they become important to us. A lot of people are talking about the 'F-word' – debt forgiveness – which is too simplistic an approach to a complex issue. First off, these are archetypal cases created to make some points about types of mortgages in difficulty, so they are subject to a series of assumptions I detail in this Google docs spreadsheet.

In practice, here's how I see such a filter working. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. All comments welcome. Repossession's terrible toll | Business. Repossessions affect homeowners from all walks of life. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty I met a lady last week, a lovely lady with two children, whose husband had taken his own life. They had borrowed on a family home, gone into arrears and remortgaged to clear the arrears on a previous mortgage. They were involved in the services industry. The system failed this couple. The regulator, the central bank and the government failed them. There are a lot of people from all backgrounds who are in difficulty. There are also people who have lost their jobs trying to feed a family and live on social welfare payments. Minister Michael Noonan will spell out his plans to deal with the rising mortgage debt crisis at the end of the month.

This is an urgent problem as we here at www.newbeginning.ie can see. The organisation was set up last November to help those facing repossession orders. This government needs to wake up and protect the genuinely hurt citizens of this brilliant country. 16/10/2011: Negative Equity and Debt Restructuring. This is unedited version of my article in Irish Mail on Sunday (October 16): This week, we finally learned the official figure for what it would cost to address one of the biggest problems facing this country. According to the Keane Report - or the Inter-Departmental Mortgage Arrears Working Group Report - writing off negative equity for all Irish mortgages will cost “in the region of €14 billion”. Doing the same just for mortgages taken out between 2006 and 2008 would require some €10 billion.

These numbers are truly staggering, not because of they are so high, but the opposite: because they contrast the State’s unwillingness to help ordinary Irish families caught in the gravest economic crisis we have ever faced with the relatively low cost it would take to do so. Let me explain. Firstly, the figure of €14billion itself is a gross overestimate of the true cost of dealing with negative equity. So why did the report completely rule this out? And it’s not like the money is not there.