The guys over at dublinopinion.com have done an excellent job in showing that the Irish media have a vested interest in property and are therefore not a reliable source in matters related to the property market. When I saw this horrendous article by Charlie Weston in the Indo I felt I had to jump in. I have had 50 or 60 letters published by the Irish Times or the Indo (not as Tomaltach!). So I fired off the following to the Indo. I was not at all surprised that it hastily made its way to their trash can. It is a letter they were never going to publish :-)
Your personal Finance editor, Charlie Weston, argues that the property market has turned around (Opinion 11th March). I bought my house four years ago, arguably at the peak of the recent market cycle, so I would dearly love to believe Mr. Wetson's analysis - but I cannot.
His analysis relies on surveys by IIB Homeloans and the Irish Mortgage Advisers' Federation who claim the market has "bottomed out". They would, wouldn't they. These sources are not disinterested parties, but have an obvious vested interest in talking up the market.
As pointed out by the rather brilliant web site dublinopinion.com, at the start of last year IIB stated that "The Irish housing market has cooled notably of late, and a softer trend could continue for some months, but we expect to see a modest rebound in prices as 2007 progresses." That was Tom Foley, chief executive of IIB. There was no rebound. Prices fell by up to 10%. If IIB were so wrong then, why put so much faith in them now?
Mr Watson agreed with IIB in expecting an early rate cut by the ECB. But the recent statement by ECB chief, Jean Claude Trichet, is far more cautious. If anything, Mr. Trichet suggested that given inflation concerns, rate cuts might be some way off.
The Irish Times too have been talking up the market. And they too cite IIB. When the evidence for turnaround is so weak, however, one wonders if media outlets with a vested interest in the property market are deliberately trying to nudge market sentiment in the right direction. The Irish Times own property site myhome.ie and most newspapers, including your own, rely heavily on property advertising.
Mr. Watson's piece was titled "Tasty price cuts put house-value chat back on the menu". I would advise the public to add a little pinch of salt before tucking in to such optimistic pronouncements.