Address by incoming IPAV President David McDonnell

Address by incoming IPAV President David McDonnell to the Institute’s Annual Conference in Mullingar Park Hotel on Saturday, 15 June, 2019 at 2.30pm.

Introduction

Minister of State Moran, Former Presidents and Vice Presidents of IPAV, Property Regulator Maeve Hogan, Distinguished Guests, fellow Council members and all members of IPAV, I would like to welcome each of you to this, our 48th Annual Convention, in my home town of Mullingar to here to the wonderful Mullingar Park Hotel. I am honoured and privileged to be elected as your new President, and I very much look forward to my term in office.

Firstly, I wish to thank my predecessor, Ella Dunphy, for the truly wonderful job she did as President.  As our first – and most certainly not our last - female President, Ella blazed a trail that will be hard for me to follow. I wish to thank Ella for all her hard work during the past year and to wish her, her husband Pat, and their family (including 4 new grandchildren I believe) all the best for the future.  During my term of office, I know I will be able to rely on Ella for any help and support I may need during the year. 

I also wish to congratulate Tom Crosse on his election as Senior Vice-President and Paul McCourtney on his election as Junior Vice-President. Congratulations, too, to those members re-elected to National Council.  I look forward to working with them and all the members of National Council during my term.

As I mentioned, you are all most welcome to Mullingar. For those who don’t know me, I am a native of Mullingar, and am the Managing Director of Property Partners McDonnell a firm set up by my father, Jimmy McDonnell some 50 years ago and who is a well-known name in the property industry in the Midlands. I was elected to IPAV’s National Council in 2014 and have served as both Junior and Senior Vice-President.

While many of you may regard Mullingar as just a town through which you pass through on the way to somewhere else, it has many, many attractions of its own and I hope that will get to see some of them during your short stay here. Westmeath the county is known as the lake County because of the number in lakes it has e.g. Lough Owel, Lough Ennell and Lough Derravaragh. Lake Derravaragh is also known, of course,  for its connection with the Irish legend of the Children of Lir. Another nearby waterway is the Royal Canal, which loops around Mullingar and is paved almost all the way to Dublin city centre. Indeed some of you may have visited Belvedere House over the past days which is a tremendous asset to the town.

Review of IPAV activities 

I am taking over the reins of office of President of IPAV in a period of continued growth and expansion for the institute.  We now have in excess 1,300 members nationwide; applications continue to come in as property professionals see the real value joining IPAV can bring to their business. Whether it is a licencing issues, compliance issues, education, upskilling adapting to new technology or simply good old fashioned advise now more than ever, we all need to be members of a professional body. 

Earlier today, at our AGM members will have heard our former President Ella Dunphy give a review of the wide range of IPAV’s activities over the past year and they are all itemised in the Annual Report.  From any perspective, IPAV is a very busy organisation and its range of activities continues to expand with each passing year. IPAV, as you are all aware, was one of the bodies appointed to deliver the National CPD programme on behalf of the National Property Services Regulatory Authority. This was a major achievement for the Institute and would not have happened without the hard work of our CEO Pat Davitt and his team. 

The Institute has also seen a full compliment for its education courses run in association with TU Dublin, formerly the Institute of Technology, Tallaght. Our Level 6 course now produces 50 plus new auctioneers every year which a great achievement and graduates from this course can look forward to very rewarding and successful careers. This year we have changed our level 6 course to cut down the college days per semester by 4 and put more modules online. We have further planned over the next 3 years to put more modules online and cut the college days down to 6 per semester. I am only too aware the commitment our students make by attending weekly at the T.U.D. and this will help greatly from this year on.    

I was delighted to see our Young Professionals Network, YPN, chaired by Niamh Giffney and her team again undertake a very interesting and diverse programme during the past year including the Novice Rostrum Auctioneer Competition. I wish to assure YPN that I will be lending them all the support I can during my term of office. Congratulations Niamh.

On the broader front, I am delighted to see our relationship growing with NAR, the National Association of Realtors in the United States and today I am delighted to welcome to our Conference Jim Kinney, NAR Global Ambassador to Ireland and the UK; Claire Killen, former NAR Ambassador to Ireland and John Le Tourneau, newly appointed Treasurer of Mainstreet Realtors and Mike Gobber their President. I wish to extend a céad míle fáilte or a hundred thousand welcomes to all our Mainstreet delegates here at the conference and thank John Le Tourneau for taking you all to Ireland, I hope you enjoyed your stay.

Our role within TEGoVA has grown hugely and IPAV now has over 400 Valuers trained to European Valuation Standards. This is another great achievement which has put our institute at the coal face of European Valuation Standards and Irish valuations going forward.

Overview of the property market

As you are aware, Ireland continues to have major property supply issues, particularly in the capital and urban areas. While the Government has made some efforts to get property building moving, an awful lot more needs to be done to meet the huge demand for our growing population in the years ahead.  

The most recent figures from the CSO show that there were 4,275 new dwelling completions in the first Quarter of 2019, which, while an improvement, is nowhere near enough to meet the demand out there. Every agent here knows how their local market is performing and how the shortage of supply is affecting them.

Residential property prices are now slowing down in many areas and many agents here today will tell you that the market is remarkably quiet for this time of year. Recent CSO figures show that prices rose by 3.9% nationally in the year to March compared with an increase of 4.3% in the year to February. Our own Property Barometer shows a slowing down to year end of 18 and we are just awaiting the results for the first 6 months of 19. So, the trend is clearly showing down. And, of course, there are still many rural counties and towns where it is still difficult to sell property at any reasonable price.

As an Agent involved in Valuations, Commercial and Residential Sales and Lettings in Mullingar, I see first-hand the major problems facing the property industry on a daily basis. We all have opinions on the property market and how issues should be solved and IPAV has been pro-active in putting the views of members forward to government at every available opportunity.  

One of the areas in which IPAV has been continuously lobbying for change is the whole area of conveyancing which still takes far too long in many cases. Back in 2016 IPAV made a submission to a review which was undertaken by the Department of Justice and Equality.  Three years later it has still not been published. Today IPAV is calling for the transfer of responsibility for conveyancing to the Property Registration Authority and the setting up of an independent panel of conveyancers across the country who would be specifically responsible for processing all property sales. For too long successive governments have been dragging their heels on this issue and it is now time to bring conveyancing into the 21st century with a far more streamlined and transparent process.

IPAV has also long advocated that the VAT rate on construction needs to be reduced to 9 per cent, even temporarily, to incentivise builders to start building and to be able to sell houses at reasonable prices. To date the Government has ignored this request. We have all seen how well this worked in the tourism sector in the past but yet the Government appears reluctant to apply it to the construction sector. There will be yet another opportunity for such a move in the 2020 Budget this autumn.

IPAV has also been pointing to the need for a building fund to provide finance for small builders at very reasonable interest rates to get them building.  After all, small and medium-sized builders were the back bone of our building strategy for years. There are still only a small number of large builders currently building and as long as that continues, there will be very little competition in the marketplace. Much hype was generated surrounding the setting up of House Building Finance Ireland with a €750m fund following the passage of new legislation last year. This was supposed to provide finance to small and medium-sized builders, but we have heard little about it since.

Rental Sector

Turning to the rental sector, we see rents continuing to rise due to the ongoing a lack of available units to let, most notably in our cities. With one in every five people now renting, we can expect this crisis to continue and to worsen. Increasingly, as figures from the Residential Tenancies Board show, the private landlord who has been the mainstay of the rental market is being forced out by onerous regulation and lack of any incentives to remain. 

It is IPAV’s view that current rental laws are skewed totally in favour of Tenants, leaving Landlords with little comeback from the State’s regulatory infrastructure when faced with irresponsible tenants. Current laws are now, in fact, so disproportionate that they facilitate irresponsible and anti-social tenants who know that if they push hard and long enough, they can live rent free for extended periods. Again, the Autumn Budget will provide another key opportunity for the government to introduce realistic tax incentive for small-time landlords so that they can reap some reasonable return from their efforts.

Today in the property market as elsewhere there is an onus on all of us to play our part in protecting the environment and we hear about the Green Wave.  Increasing emphasis is being placed on the BER ratings of properties both for sale and for renting. This afternoon I wish to put forward two simple ideas in this area. The first is that when sale prices are published on the website of the Property Services Regulatory Authority, they should also show the BER rating of the property so that people can see the difference in price when a higher rating is achieved. This would be a simple step which would, in IPAV’s view, make a major contribution to making people aware of the BER Value and enhancing the environment. We also propose the SEAI Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland be the ones to enforce the BER certs a s they are the body charged with responsibility in the whole energy area.

Secondly, it is currently being proposed that estate agents will in the future have to ensure that all residential units advertised to let comply with the 2017 Housing Standards for Rented Houses. We do not think this is a realistic proposal as estate agents are not qualified to check all these requirements. Instead, we propose that it should be the obligation of the landlord who owns the property, to provide a certificate of compliance from the relevant local authority confirming the property is fully compliant with the housing standards regulations.  IPAV will be outlining these proposals to the relevant ministers in the near future.  

Conclusion

My main objective as President for the next 12 months will be to work with you, the members around the country, and to help you in any way I can. In particular, I want to help agents grow and develop their business so that all our members can earn a decent living and provide for their families. By working together under the IPAV umbrella, we can be strong and support each other going forward.

In conclusion, let me say how much I am looking forward to my year ahead as IPAV President and to having your full support. I wish to thank our CEO Pat Davitt and all the staff at Head Office for their commitment and dedication not least in organising this AGM and Annual Conference.  

And, of course, a word of thanks to the management and staff of the Mullingar Park Hotel for taking such good care of us over the weekend.

Finally, thank you all for coming and I hope you find the conference both interesting and informative.

Thank you.