Monday November 30, 2020

Our legacy housing stock is a mismatch for demand

‘The real estate sector has a long history of both innovation and resilience’ says Pat Farrell, CEO of Irish Institutional Property (IIP)

5th November, 2020

What's your name and what position do you hold?

Pat Farrell, CEO of Irish Institutional Property (IIP)

What are your day to day responsibilities?

Lead IIP in the discharge of its mission and key objectives:

The mission of IIP is to promote the development of a sustainable world class real estate sector in Ireland which benefits members, the economy, communities and wider society.

Our key objectives are:

•To foster proactive and open communication between members and with all key stakeholders on matters of common interest

•Leverage members’ insights to provide thought leadership which supports the development of a sustainable property sector

•Constructively engage with government, legislators, policy makers and other relevant stakeholders to maintain a stable and properly functioning property market

•Position Ireland as a preferred location for institutional capital investment, supporting economic growth and the development of sustainable communities and workplaces

•To support the modernisation and professionalisation of the sector by continuously improving the quality of the built environment

What is your professional background?

I have over 40 years senior level business experience primarily at CEO and board level.

How do you think the industry is coping with the Covid-19 crisis? What lasting impact do you see on the sector?

The sector has maintained a high level of support for government and its Covid impacted customers throughout this acute phase. Our members in the main backed by pension funds are here for the long term and take a long-term view. While COVID will have fairly profound impacts on all sectors including real estate, it’s too early to be definitive about the scale or shape of these changes. The real estate sector has a long history of both innovation and resilience so I’m confident these strengths will enable the sector to move beyond COVID and make the changes necessary to ensure the sustainability of real estate in the post pandemic world.

What’s your view of the measures introduced in Budget ’21 to deliver more affordable housing?

The Budget overall has been generally supportive of the residential development sector. Extension of Help to Buy and the signalling of a new Shared Equity Scheme are all positives. However, we have a continuing issue around affordability and viability and unless we tackle these with bold policy initiatives then we will continue to struggle to close the gap between demand and supply.

How do you see tech innovation transforming the industry? What do you think will be the major breakthroughs over the next 5–10 years?

Our members who are scale players are leaders in this field and continue to set the agenda. Tech has the potential to drive positive change for our sector and our customers. It’s hard to pick any one innovation over another. The potential for offsite manufacturing /prefabrication has not been really exploited here and I would like to think that this can change over the next 5 years. Done properly with strong State sponsorship it has the potential to deliver meaningful reductions in the cost of delivery of residential developments.

What will be the leading trends in the housing sector in coming years and how will businesses need to adapt?

In many ways the government’s housing agenda will drive developments in this area. If we can effectively tackle the viability /affordability issue this will drive increased output and enable many more aspiring homeowners to secure a home of their own. Our legacy housing stock is a mismatch for demand which is for increasingly smaller household units and with people working more from home, design will need to reflect these changes. As I said already, our sector has always adapted and been agile in response to changing customer needs, so I have every confidence that our sector and members will embrace and drive that change.

Pat Farrell will be speaking at The Business Post’s inaugural Housebuilding Summit on Nov 10. Visit www.housebuildingsummit.com for full details.

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