herald

Tuesday 19 November 2019

TD offers NAMA his house, agency boss jokes he'd like it to take his own home

The head of the body that will control NAMA has joked that he would like the agency to buy his own house.

Top-paid civil servant Michael Somers, the chief executive of the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA), says he missed the boat by not selling his house during the boom.

In a tongue-in-cheek letter to Fine Gael's Leo Varadkar, Mr Somers says: "I could have done very well by selling at the peak, renting and now buying a better house for a much lower price. However it wasn't to be."

Deputy Varadkar had attempted to put the NAMA logic to the test by offering to sell his own apartment to the body on the same terms that is being offered to indebted property developers.

He wrote to the NTMA earlier this month explaining that his home was now in negative equity and he would like to transfer it to NAMA as soon as possible.

Having bought the Carpenstertown property in 2004 for €350,000, its value jumped to €500,000 in 2007, but following the collapse of the market is now worth just half of the peak amount.

"Using the formula outlined by your chief valuer at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Finance, I estimate its long-term economic value to be €420k," wrote the Dublin TD.

He added that by doing such a deal with NAMA, it would release him from his current mortgage and car loan "thus satisfying the banks and would leave me with a small deposit which I could use to buy back my apartment with a mortgage I can better afford".

Bizarre

The letter was sent on September 11 and Mr Somers' bizarre reply came six days later.

He wrote: "Having bought my present house (in very poor condition) in 1994 I watched in amazement at the prices at which houses in the area were subsequently sold."

Writing about the collapse in the property market over the past year, he said: "We all have our theories about how this all happened."

And he concludes: "If your proposal is successful, I could be interested in looking at it myself."

Speaking about the unusual correspondence, Mr Varadkar said: "It's good to see there is a civil servant in the country who still has a sense of humour."

kdoyle@herald.ie

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