There was a time, not that long ago, when the ownership of overseas property was a topic to be expounded upon at dinner parties and soirées across the country. But no more, now the subject doesn’t qualify for as much as a sentence in most of the nation’s newspapers. Compare this to 2005 and 2006 when newspaper editors jammed tens, and even occasionally hundreds, of pages of newsprint dedicated to the subject into their ‘Property Sections’. Now you could hardly bed your hamster on these same add-ons. It has been a swift and painful decline for an industry once deemed to carry ‘the ultimate’ investment vehicle.
While not on the level of bankers, highly paid civil servants or politicians, owners of property anywhere, but particularly outside of Ireland, have become symbolic of a past that we are falling over ourselves to forget. Of course, the overseas investments, both good and bad, don’t disappear quite so easily. Nor do the debts associated with them. Just because it is now a forbidden topic in the media doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. It did, and the scars to prove this run deep within individuals and communities across the country. Some people have done very well, but others haven’t, many badly misled by advertorial, hearsay and deception in an industry that remains as unregulated as ever.
Be assured that property will return as an ‘acceptable’ form of investment, indeed for those with the most wealth it has never lost its sheen, and newspaper editors will once again bow at the alter of mammon. But the bubble of perception that those with editorial responsibility in Ireland have anything on their minds other than profit has well and truly been scotched – and perhaps this is as good an outcome as could be expected. Perhaps people will be slower to accept without question what they read in the papers – but this realisation is, unfortunately, too late for a lot of people.