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    Merlin is Officially One of the Best Places to Work in Ireland!

    The team are celebrating today because Merlin was named officially as one of the Best Small Workplaces 2012, according to a detailed assessment by the Great Place to Work® Ireland. This prestigious honour was announced at an awards ceremony in the Burlington Hotel Dublin, attended by over 500 guests last night.

    Speaking at the awards CEO of Great Place to Work John Ryan congratulated Merlin Group on this achievement: “I wish to congratulate you on the superb achievement of being recognised as one of the Best Small Workplaces in Ireland 2012. Your ongoing commitment to your people practices within your organisation has been an inspiration to many and has set a bar for other organisations. This is an achievement worth celebrating and communicating because by creating a great workplace you are establishing a firm base for business success in 2012 and beyond”.

    The Best Workplaces study, which is now in its tenth year, uses confidential employee feedback to identify employers who follow a policy of creating positive workplaces in which management build high-trust relationships with their employees, based on mutual respect. Great Place to Work conducts similar studies in forty-five countries worldwide.

    We have won a number of awards over the last two years including the Deloitte Best Managed Company in 2011, Innovation of the Year trophy at the SIMI Awards in 2010 and being nominated for an Eircom Spider award.

    Dave Byrne, Managing Director of Merlin Group commented, “We are delighted to have won this accolade, especially as it is the first year that the Great Places to Work Awards have included a category for businesses with less than 50 employees.  We constantly strive to provide a happy and engaging environment for our employees.  We scored 84% in the staff confidential surveys which reflects the work we put in to maintaining good working relationships and support for all of our employees.”


    Merlin Property Announce Auction Date at Asset Management Launch

    Last night, Merlin Property, Ireland’s only Irish owned property auction house, welcomed key industry professionals including representatives from financial institutions, investors, private buyers and private sellers to the official launch of Merlin Property inthe Burlington Hotel.  We unveiled a range of services on offer to all sectors of the property market ranging from our holistic asset management approach right through to auction in terms of disposal of assets.  We are also delighted to  company announce the first auction date – Tuesday, 22nd November 2011 at 11am in the Burlington Hotel, Dublin.

    Since we launched our property division in July of this year, we have identified through our ongoing liaisons with financial institutions, receivers and developers, that there is a need to offer solutions to a stagnant market and to look beyond the obvious in terms of existing property use, be that residential or commercial.

    To address this we have established an asset management division incorporating a panel of experts in the fields of property, re-design, cost management and development expertise to offer such solutions to our clients.

    Lisa Geoghegan, Property Director said “The specialist skills brought by this team in each of their own fields means we can service and control all types of property assets, always ensuring that whilst revenue is being collected and managed, the asset is also being vetted to identify the potential to increase or adapt the property to maximise the return for our client. We have developed an extensive partnership with Wealth Management, Quantity Surveyor and Architect firms to offer a full service solution for their customers.”

    At the launch David Byrne, Managing Director of Merlin Property said “Merlin are recognised and respected in the field of Auctioneering and have been for over 37 years with our sister company Ganly Craigie.” He went to add  “ Having identified a shift in primary asset disposal through our existing working relationship with the major banks we decided as part of our sustainable business plan to expand on our existing involvement in the property industry.”

    The guest speakers at the launch included, Karl Deeter of Irish Mortgage Brokers, Vincent O’Farrell of OFQS, and Paula ter Brake, Managing Partner of Weston and Wellington.  Each gave their insights in their respective areas into the current status of the market.

    Karl Deeter of Irish Mortgage brokers discussed the banks saying, “Irish banks might end up needing as much expertise in operations and asset management as they lacked in the credit decisions that lead up to this.”

    He went on to say “Debt forgiveness divides society along ‘for’ and ‘against’ lines.  In fact, it is just a term for facing commercial reality in certain situations and we gave the banks the money to do this with.”

    On property sales he commented “We believe that non apartment second hand properties in cities is the best market for buy and hold investors, with yields in many cases near low double digits there is a compelling argument for property for the first time in almost a decade.”

    Paula ter Brake, Managing Partner of Weston and Wellington was on hand to reinforce Merlin Properties strong working relationships with market investors in determining their needs. She also elaborated on some of the issues they face and how Merlin Property are best placed in their service to offering solutions.

    There is significant interest from the investment community, both in Ireland and globally in our distressed market yet very few transactions are being executed according to Paula ter Brake.  “Investors are increasingly frustrated with the time to execute transactions and the inconsistent methodology applied by vendors in underwriting large value property acquisitions.  With investors applying a more rigorous pre purchase due diligence process than previously seen in this market, the time and cost of concluding negotiations with Irish banks is driving investors to retreat to the relative normality of alternative property markets such as London, where assets delivering strong returns can be acquired swiftly.”

    She continued, “Novice property investors, ill prepared and unfamiliar with the need to utilise hybrid valuation methods in a challenged market are equally to blame for stalling the process. Vendors are having their time wasted by investors hoping to get a share of the action, seeking unrealistic yields without consideration to the sensitivities of vendors’ needs, location and covenant strength.  Vendors need to implement processes to enable reputable buyers, armed with proof of funds to be given the opportunity to strike a deal.”

    Vincent O’Farrell OFQS chartered Quantity Surveyor and Lisa Geoghegan provided an overview on the commercial aspect of the current Irish property market during their address.  They discussed the fact that office space is currently one of the top performing commercial assets of this quarter with vacancies down to between 18.9 – 22% in Dublin.  However, many vacant units are not realising their potential.

    Lisa Geoghegan went on to speak about the current phenomenon of existing tenants exercising their break clauses to negotiate more favourable leases in other locations.  “Being aware of this allows the Merlin Property team to put forward recommendations to our clients i.e. banks and receivers in terms of feasibility studies, change of use planning permissions, re-design, fit out and tenant negotiation. In some cases already having the end user in place and knowing their needs, Merlin Property source the right location and unit on their behalf.”

    The full catalogue for the first Merlin Property auction will be available on 3rd November and there will be a three-week viewing period of properties prior to the auction which will take place on 22nd November 2011.

    Entry to the auction is still available for a limited period of time. To enter a property for auction, contact Lisa Geoghegan (01) 4395470 or


    Savills to delay its national property auction

    Savills To Delay

    Irish loan losses could rise – KBC

    KBC set aside €49m for potential loan losses in its Irish subsidiary KBC Ireland in the second quarter of 2011.

    Belgian bank KBC has set aside €49m for potential loan losses in its Irish subsidiary KBC Ireland in the second quarter of this year. This was broadly in line with the figure for the first three months.
    But the bank warned that loan loss provisions could be higher in the next quarters as the Irish market had not improved as the bank had envisaged.
    KBC said austerity measures had a sizeable impact on households, and tough credit conditions would remain, fuelled by continued downward pressure on property values and rising interest rates.
    Overall, KBC reported underlying second-quarter net profit of €528m, ahead of expectations, as a strong underlying performance in Belgium and Central Europe helped offset losses on Greek bonds.
    The group said it was hit by an impairment of €102m after tax on its portfolio of Greek bonds. (Tuesday, 9 August 2011)

    NAMA to help first time buyers but property tax up to €600pa

    TWO separate attempts to generate badly needed Exchequer cash from property can be exclusively revealed today.

    In a desperate attempt to kickstart the market, NAMA will stump up some of the money needed by first-time buyers to buy its apartments.

    And those who own their own homes face swingeing property tax bills of up to €600 a year when the permanent scheme is introduced in three years’ time.

    NAMA will sell hundreds of apartments in various parts of Dublin from October in a radical move to bring some life to the moribund property market.

    Chairman of the agency, Frank Daly, has outlined fresh details of plans to give loans to buyers of apartment blocks that it currently owns.

    He said this would include asking both domestic and foreign lenders to join with it in the initiative.

    The pilot phase will be in Dublin and start in October, with a “couple of hundred” apartments being offered.

    In an interview with the Irish Independent on the eve of NAMA’s first annual report, Mr Daly said banks were not lending enough to the property market and had gone to the “other end of the spectrum” after the carefree lending of the boom.

    The urgent need for the new plan will be revealed today when NAMA discloses that the value of its properties has plunged by about €1.3bn in just one year.


    New auction house gets strong public response

    New auction house gets strong public response

    New auction house gets strong public response

    New auction house gets strong public response

    A housing dilemma — should I trade up or renovate?

    MANY home-owners who need more space are faced with a dilemma: Do I sell and buy or do I renovate and extend?

    Cuts in stamp duty have reduced the cost of moving, but reduced labour costs have cut the cost of improving.

    Here are two case studies that provide guidelines to choosing between these options and these are based on mortgage rates which are broadly in line with what is available in the market today.


    Take a family who are thinking of renovating their home, which has a current value of €350,000 with a 30-year mortgage of approximately €200,000. Based on mortgage rates of 4.75pc, the repayments would amount to approximately €1,044 per month for a family which decides to borrow a further €100,000 to renovate and upgrade their home, extend it, etc. The new €300,000 mortgage over 30 years will now cost €1,566 per month.

    The upside to this approach is that they retain their existing home and suitable location, no stress or costs arising from relocation, and no stamp duty. They are also enhancing the value of the property, should they sell at a future date.

    However, they should not expect that if they invest €100,000 they would automatically recoup the €100,000 should they sell it after the property has been upgraded.

    In some cases, they might be lucky to get less than half what they have spent. Indeed, some of those who invested in renovations at the peak of the market have seen the value of their extra investment wiped out.

    Furthermore, they have had to bear with disruption during renovation and an increase in the monthly mortgage cost.

    Trade up

    But what if this family traded up? In this approach, the family sell for €350,000 and pay off their existing mortgage of €200,000, leaving them with a gross of €150,000 in cash.

    The family buys a property suitable to their needs for €450,000 and pay stamp duty of €4,500. Other costs, including fees, etc, could amount to €10,000. Allowing for these costs, the family will have a mortgage of €315,000 costing €1,644 per month.

    The upside to trading up is the avoidance of renovation stress and, in some cases, the cost of alternative accommodation.

    The downside is that there are costs, and in some cases there may be penalties for paying off the mortgage before its term ends.

    But as you can see, the marginal cost in the mortgage payments might well be outweighed by the costs associated with renovation, alternative rented accommodation. Then there are also of course the hidden costs of stress and strain, especially with builders who don’t finish the job properly.

    So currently, with the way prices and costs are in relation to property, you have options that were not open to you before; options to make a property decision that is affordable and in each case shown the costs are almost identical.

    The bottom line is it’s your personal choice. But it has been a long time since conditions were so good for making a move.

    You should of course always take independent legal and financial advice when making such a decision.

    - Donal Buckley

    Irish Independent


    Two auction houses sold

    Two of three Dublin southside houses offered for sale at a Gunne Residential auction yesterday were sold.

    A two-bedroom, mid-terraced house, 26 Beaufield Manor, Stillorgan, Co Dublin (right), was brought to auction with a €180,000 reserve and was sold for €202,000.

    A single-storey, two-bedroom cottage at 13 Dermot O’Hurley Avenue, Stella Gardens, Irishtown, Dublin 4 (left), had seen bidding peter out at €89,000 and it was withdrawn.

    Afterwards it was sold for just below its €99,000 maximum reserve. It is in need of complete refurbishment.

    The third house was 86 Mount Drummond Square, Harold’s Cross, Dublin 6W. An extended two-bedroom, semi-detached house, it had a €220,000 maximum reserve. Bidding peaked at €196,000 at which it was withdrawn.

    Agent Marion McQuillan said that the property failed to sell in subsequent negotiations and was now for sale by private treaty.

    Irish Independent


    Merlin Enter The Property Arena As First Irish Owned Auction House

    Merlin Enter The Property Arena As First Irish Owned Auction House