We have been told by successive governments that we will get a property prices register, it was listed in the 2009 programme for Government. The actual legislative backing was done in the Property Services Regulation Act 2011 (see part 12), which took two whole years to go from bill (suggested law) to act (actual law).
We still don’t have this register. The delay was that it was a legal issue, in the area of data protection, then it was a practical issue in terms of collating the data – all of which we have but it is in different places (the Property Registration Authority, Ordinance Survey Ireland, Land Registry, Dublin Castle Stamp Office etc.).
One cannot help but wonder if such delays would wash in the collection of taxes? Perhaps yes, which is why we were stuck with an unfair and ridiculous-at-heart flat rate household charge.
The deadline we were last promised by Tom Lynch, head of the PSRA (Property Services Regulatory Authority) now seems to be once again delayed, until late September.
Here’s the bit I don’t get though… This story from November 2011 quotes him as saying that it will be ready by June 2012, in fact, it specifically states ‘before the end of June’. But Mr. Lynch was either misquoted, misunderstood or backtracking because the waiting game is once again in season.
The register is being hailed as a cure-all for our property woes, and while anybody would agree with transparency, the implied socially balancing virtue of the database is perhaps overplayed. Let us not forget, this is information – not action. The actual market is about interaction and transactions. The UK has had a good and transparent register for years and they still went through the boom-bust cycle.
As did many states in the USA, as they probably will in Australia and as we are probably going to do again some time here. Don’t think so? Have a read of Fred Harrison’s seminal book ‘Boom Bust – the depression of 2010‘, he predicted the property downturn at first in the early 90’s because he has shown that the cycle is about 18 or 20 years.
The typical pattern (and it has repeated almost without fail for several centuries) is for a big bust following a boom, recovery begins, it hits a mid-cycle ‘mini-crash’, then recovers and goes berserk. The British are no fools, and within living memory they have several examples of this so the question isn’t perhaps that it exists, by rather why it persists.
Based upon that cycle (if you hold that it is true) you’d go fill your boots with property then sell in the early to mid 2020’s, but don’t, because this time it will be different – or will it?
One thing we can be sure of is that delayed or not, we’ll at least have the information to hand so that we can figure out where it went wrong with better accuracy, but that won’t prevent it from going wrong. The point to remember is this: property is unpredictable in performance and unlike other goods, supply doesn’t always meet demand and that is a creator of instability in the market (too little supply in the early boom, way over-supplied going into the bust).
For that reason we are still holding firm on the line that cities are the superior choice for a purchase and that in rural areas (obvious exceptions being one off houses where there is no easy substitution) renting may be the better choice in the medium term.
What do you think? And do you reckon the property price registry will make much of a difference?
Irish Mortgage Brokers