There is little that has caused Irish property developers more consternation than the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA).
Set up to help strengthen Irish banks’ balance sheets by acquiring development loans, developers were forced to look on helplessly as trophy assets they’d spent years working on were taken over and sold off – often for far less than they paid and then, in some cases, flipped for substantial profit.
On the face of it, the word ‘unfair’ seems inadequate, but it’s an emotive and complex topic. Now, almost 10 years since NAMA was established and two years before it is due to wind down, those who are far enough removed to look at the broader picture are much more positive about the role it has played – Ireland’s recovery, they say, would have been much more painful without it.
Now, Ireland has the fastest-growing economy in Europe and a projected population growth four times the European average. It will need investment and development if it is to cater for growth. Enter Project Ireland 2040, the Irish government’s €116bn (£102bn) plan to improve housing provision and transport links. Previous plans never made it off the drawing board – will this time be different?
The economy is on the up, the population is on the up and so too is Dublin’s office market. Cranes fill the skyline and a number of recent deals have involved big-name corporates. But could the decision of one man on the other side of the Atlantic temper its growth? Trump’s tax reforms could encourage US companies to withdraw from Ireland. With more than 750 American companies that have operations in the country, it has the potential to rock the market.
Ireland has had a torrid time and painful memories linger, but the local property community is determined to capitalise on its rise back to normality. There will be challenges to overcome, sure, but the Emerald Isle is sparkling once again.
Mia Hunt is Property Week’s market reports editor
Ireland supplement: Ireland's economy, population and office markets on the up
- Currently reading
Ireland's economy, population and office markets are on the up