Almost one in five homes built using Nama funding has been sold to corporate investors – including property investment funds and private equity firms.
More homes have been sold to investors than utilised for social housing, new figures reveal, as it also emerged the vast bulk of properties built using funding from the State bad-bank have been sold in excess of prices considered “affordable”.
Correspondence between Nama and the Dáil Public Accounts Committee (PAC) shows the agency has directly funded delivery of 8,013 houses and apartments since 2014.
Of these, the vast bulk are in Dublin, Wicklow, Kildare, Cork and Galway – almost 95pc of the total – where demand for new homes is highest.
But a breakdown of buyers provided by Nama to the PAC shows that of the 8,013 units delivered, 1,493 – or 19pc of the total – have been sold to ‘corporates’.
Nama defines ‘corporates’ as including pension funds, property investment funds and private equity firms.
The agency also reveals that more units have been sold to corporates than utilised for social housing, with 1,238 homes provided – or 15pc – to help tackle council housing waiting lists.
The bulk of the units (66pc or 5,282) were sold to private individuals.
The correspondence reveals that most of these units fetched a premium.
More than one in three properties funded by Nama, or 36pc, was sold for prices in excess of €400,000.
Another 33pc were sold for between €300,000 and €400,000, with the remaining 31pc sold for €300,000 or less.
Most housing experts believe homes costing in excess of €300,000 are not “affordable” for buyers.
The Government’s Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan, for example, allows couples earning up to €75,000 a year to borrow a maximum of €320,000. Most Nama stock delivered to date would fall outside these limits.
Nama did not provide a response as to why it was selling properties to corporate investors, but the note does state the agency can only fund developments which are commercially viable and under the control of its debtors and receivers.
“These two considerations are key in determining the location and sales prices of residential units to which to provides development funding,” it adds.
However, Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin said it appeared the agency’s sales policy was contributing to the housing crisis.
“It appears Nama’s sales policy is actually contributing to the crisis in our housing market,” he said. “69pc of the new build properties were sold by Nama for more than €300,000, with almost 40pc sold at prices above €400,000.
“Despite having a clear legal remit to contribute to the social and economic development of the state, Nama has clearly prioritised high-end homes and institutional landlords rather than affordable homes to buy and rent and social housing delivery.”
He said ensuring an adequate supply of social and affordable housing from stock built before the housing market collapsed was always going to be difficult, but the same constraints did not apply to new builds.
“It is hard to understand why Nama is not prioritising the completion of larger volumes of social, affordable rental and affordable sale properties,” Mr Ó Broin added. “This could be done without breaching Nama’s commercial remit.
“It appears that it is not interested in helping tackle the housing crisis. This is hardly surprising given the hands-off role played by successive finance ministers in Nama’s affairs.”