Two weeks ago this column examined the Government’s proposed Housing for All initiative. One of the significant positives is an undertaking to prevent “flipping” of sites after planning permission is acquired.
Flipping is a process whereby someone buys non-zoned land and then makes the right noises to the council about what could be done with the site in the public interest, such as how many homes could be built on it and the like. Once the zoning is acquired, the value of the land rockets. But rather than carry out the building, the land speculator sells the land on to another developer and trousers the difference in the land value.
What was Sally Rooney’s crime? The more she writes, the more her books sell, the more incoming fire she seems to take from reviewers, opinion-makers and various salon arbiters of literary standards.
Could it be that she is the author of choice for many, writing novels with characters and experiences that readers bond with, and that annoy critics? Could it be that she’s simply a better writer than some of the reviewers who have decided she needs to be taken down a peg or two?
If you are looking to buy a home and are only being offered dilapidated, third-rate places in parts of town you’ve never wanted to live in, you should get out of the market and wait.
Until the huge supply promised by the Government’s “Housing for All” initiative comes on stream, leaving this dysfunctional market is the only rational reaction to a comprehensive national housing plan. The State is in effect advising buyers to wait, as we will be coming down with apartments, rental properties, family homes, duplexes and maisonettes, with more options for buyers and renters in the coming years.
As I’ve been working from home for the past 20 years, never truly having a “real job”, trying things, some of which work, some of which fail, the pandemic has not dramatically changed the way I live. That slightly precarious, gig-by-gig, skin-in-the-game existence, which many people fear, is normal for me. I can’t imagine living any other way.
In the future, this slightly blurred lifestyle, where the line between work and play is ambiguous, looks likely to become a reality for more people. Some call it “the gig economy”; others might prefer to call it “living a sovereign life”, where you can have more control over your own affairs.
An unexpected consequence of Brexit has been the dramatic increase in trade between the Republic and the North. In the past six months, trade has increased by €800 million, as supply chains adapt to the new realities.
Unlike politics, commerce does not see flags, slogans or borders. The merchant has always favoured cosmopolitanism over nationalism, money over votes, flexibility over regulations and freedom of expression over dogma.
Standing in the west of Ireland, almost flattened by gale force winds, peering out through the horizontal rain at those enormous Atlantic waves crashing ashore, don’t lament your sodden staycation, rather consider this: you are experiencing the future wealth of the country.
In the 21st century, Ireland is to renewable energy what 20th century Saudi Arabia was to fossil fuels. The only difference is that unlike the Gulf States, where oil will run out, our energy sources will not deplete. Our island’s wind, wave and tidal potential in generating renewable energy, is unparalleled.