Irish Rental Property Market: Lack of financing creates opportunities for alternative & private lenders

Lisa O'Reilly

Lisa O'Reilly

In the Irish real estate market, particularly Buy-To-Let (BTL) mortgages for rental properties, a glaring issue persists: the scarcity of financing options. This shortage not only exacerbates the existing deficit of rental housing but also presents a significant obstacle to potential investors. However, within this challenge lies a silver lining—a growing opportunity for Alternative and Private Lenders.

Lending Void: Challenges in Financing Ireland’s Rental Market

A glance at the evolution of the Irish banking sector over the past decade paints a stark picture. In 2007, there were 11 banks in the Irish market; by 2024, only four remain. Yet, despite this downsizing, none of the surviving institutions exhibit a palpable appetite for lending in the rental property domain. Among the sparse options available, Bank of Ireland and Permanent TSB emerge as having any real appetite for Buy to Let lending. However, they typically favour turnkey properties that guarantee an immediate rental income stream. This limitation has resulted in a notable issue for existing rundown or inhabitable properties, where refurbishment is necessary, exacerbating the challenge of addressing the shortage of rental housing.

Consequently, small builders, who typically take on such projects and have accumulated cash reserves to afford the necessary work, are tasked with this undertaking. However, this approach often results in a slower turnaround for these properties. Given that these properties tend to be in city centre areas, where demand is at its highest, this further adds to the urgency for more alternative lenders to enter the Irish market.

Alternative & Private Lenders

This reluctance to engage with properties requiring any refurbishment or development has left a conspicuous void in the market. Consequently, Alternative Lenders, Bridging & Development Finance, Crowdfunding and Private Lending initiatives have multiplied, outnumbering the traditional banking stalwarts.

With a stark lack of rental property in the Irish market, it isn’t any wonder these Alternative Lenders show a marked interest in residential lending. They typically offer loans where significant refurbishment is required, but they do come with a caveat: they can be costly form of finance. Look out for arrangement fees, legal fees, exit fees and minimum interest periods, not to mention higher than average interest rates. It can be hard to make a property deal financially viable not to mention the surge in building costs over the past year or two, making it challenging to render a property deal financially viable.

This financial situation can present a significant challenge, particularly in smaller cities and towns where, despite high rental yields, property values might not align with the costs associated with this lending strategy. As a result, this lending model tends to find greater success in larger cities characterised by higher property values and significant potential for future appreciation.

Private Lenders

Where does this leave the future of individual private investors interested in restoring tired and rundown properties for the much-needed rental market? Well, this is where the intriguing gap in the market can transform into an opportunity for private lenders. Some individuals with funds idling in deposit accounts, earning as little as 0.1% interest, have identified this gap. Rather than becoming landlords themselves, they recognise the security in property and have opted to provide private lending to property investors. These investors use the funds to purchase, refurbish, and rent out properties and by cutting out the middleman and bypassing banks, private lenders can now earn these higher interest rates themselves.

This peer-to-peer lending arrangement has created the potential for a win-win strategy for all involved including the cities and towns as this trend has inevitably led to an increased availability of vacant properties. However, it’s important to note that this avenue should only be explored after seeking careful legal advice and a comprehensive due diligence process on both the borrower and the property in question as with any investment, there’s a possibility of losing all of one’s capital.

Lisa O’Reilly


April 2024

Member Spotlight Rob Gibbons Partner BHSM LLP

Introduction to BHSM LLP

Our law firm was founded in 2012 as Baily Homan Smyth McVeigh by Brian Baily, Mark Homan, Giles G Smyth and Joe McVeigh. Today we are known as BHSM LLP and are a dynamic and ambitious team of 50 professionals comprised of partners, associate solicitors, solicitors, trainees and support professionals.

In 2023 we moved to our new, larger premises at 76 Baggot Street Lower, Dublin 2 but we nonetheless retain our bespoke offering of big firm expertise and wealth of experience offered through the more personal service of a mid-size firm.

We offer a full suite of legal services, and our valued client base receives an end-to-end service in respect of their legal requirements from our breadth of practice teams. We advise leading domestic and international entities in relation to their property, commercial, employment, banking, regulatory and dispute resolution needs.

BHSM’s legal team members are experts in their practice areas but are also responsive practitioners who prioritise the provision of a strategic, practical and solution focused service to our clients. BHSM upholds a carefully developed and well-deserved reputation as providers of a best-in-class service to our clients. We provide this expertise of service across a range of legal practice areas at competitive rates and with a personal and focused service. This is the calling card of our firm and we train our staff in these priorities from the very outset. The majority of our new work comes from referrals from past and current clients, and this is something of which we are extremely proud. We have been closely involved in high numbers of significant projects and cases on behalf of high-profile clients over the years.

BHSM’s Real Estate Department

BHSM has extensive experience across all aspects of commercial and residential property. Our Commercial Real Estate Team advises institutional, domestic and international investors and lenders with their commercial property needs across all types of commercial property assets.

Our Residential Property Team advises both buyers and sellers of every type of residential property including new and second-hand houses and apartments. Our team has the knowledge and experience to deal with all legal aspects of a residential property transaction.

Whether a seasoned Irish property market professional or a newcomer seeking to navigate the peculiarities of the Irish real estate market, our Real Estate Team is ideally placed to provide practical and tailored advice.

Those looking to invest in Ireland can benefit from BHSM’s knowledge of the particularities of the Irish real estate market. Our experience covers all areas of real estate law and there is nothing our team has not seen.

Our Commercial Real Estate Team is recognised internationally, ranked in both Chambers Europe Guide 2024 and the Legal 500 EMEA Guide 2024.

Pictured: Rob Gibbons, Partner, Commercial Real Estate

Rob is a Partner working in our Real Estate Department and Construction & Projects Department. He has extensive experience in all aspects of commercial real estate transactions from both a commercial conveyancing and commercial leasing perspective.

Throughout his career, Rob has been at the forefront of landmark commercial real estate transactions in Dublin and across Ireland. With a keen focus on delivering practical advice and guidance, Rob has consistently demonstrated his prowess in navigating the intricacies of the commercial real estate landscape. His expertise spans all facets of commercial real estate, making him a key player in some of the most prominent and high-profile transactions within the Irish commercial real estate sector.

Rob is our main point of contact for FIABCI members. Please feel free to contact him with any questions or queries you may have:

Rob Gibbons, Partner, BHSM LLP


Direct Number: 01 440 8338

BHSM Website:

The Property Show 2024

RDS Ballsbridge Dublin Ireland

Clare Connolly


The Challenges Buyers are facing in Ireland in 2024

Photo: Clare Connolly with Minister Darragh O’Brien (Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage)


Currently, we are delivering about 30,000 homes but the Government now acknowledge that this figure should be closer to 50,000. Government policy over the last number of years has pushed institutional investors out of the market. The rent cap (rent pressure zones) introduced in 2021 have acted as a deterrent in attracting foreign capital to build new homes. The rent cap coupled with the interest rate hikes means that it is no longer financially viable for them to build, particularly to build apartments in Ireland. The return is not there. The State has had to step in, and apartment building is now driven by State funding with councils approved housing bodies and The Land Development Agency. The Government will have to continue buying stock from the private sector to ensure housebuilding is maintained.


While most of the attention has been on new homes, there is a distinct lack of second-hand homes on the market. The total number of second-hand homes on the market in January of this year was just 11,000. (In 2019, there were 24,200 on the market). Sellers are reluctant to put their property on the market for sale as they are finding it almost impossible to find a property to buy. It’s also difficult to secure a short term let and they can be costly. Since the downturn in 2007, Irish banks have stopped giving out bridging loans which would have allowed borrowers to finance the gap between buying and selling, so you can understand why people are very slow to put their existing home on the market until they have secured a new purchase which obviously cuts off the supply of second-hand homes for sale. Lastly, a lot of property owners are choosing to renovate rather than move. This is a booming business! Bear in mind that the Government grants for upgrading energy ratings provides another incentive for householders to renovate their existing property.


Ireland’s employment market is extremely healthy, unemployment rate in Dec at 4.9% virtually full employment. There is a very strong cashflow in the economy, the savings are still there post covid, adding to the number of buyers that can afford to bid over the asking price. Our personal balance sheet is very strong with 153 billion in household savings, totally unlike 2008. This level of savings implies that a lot of the market being driven by cash buyers.


The Irish population continues to grow rapidly. Net migration in the year to April 2023 was almost 77,000, the highest level since 2007. This trend will continue into 2024 which means that the Irish population is growing towards 5.3m people. When I carry out property viewings, particularly for apartment sales, so many of the viewers are ‘new Irish’, South African, Chinese, Brazilian, Indian all who have made Ireland their home, and while it is great to see this, it places a huge strain on the number of buyers pulling from a very small pool of properties. While the main focus is on apartment building with Government incentives such as the New Home Scheme and Shared Equity Scheme for first time buyers, there is no real focus on the second-hand market where it is equally challenging for people trading down or attempting to trade up. However, I am optimistic that the Central Bank will begin to reduce interest rates in the second half of this year. We may then see more urgently needed second hand stock coming onto the market.

Clare Connolly March 2024

First, we want to thank you All for supporting FIABCI-Ireland thoughout it’s re-founding period since 2021.

Further, we want to Thank You for your patience as we get through the inevitable trials and tribulations in a start-up period – especially as we have NO paid staff and all our efforts are done on a voluntary basis at our own individual expense.

We’re not complaining, just explaining!….

FIABCI Ireland President Liam Hogan 

Attends MIPIM 2024

Cannes Frances

March 2023 was my first time to attend MIPIM in Cannes.  MIPIM is the world’s leading real estate market event, and I must say it was a real eye opener for me.  I have attended many real estate conferences in both the United States and Europe, but MIPIM takes it to a whole new level in terms of the wide range of professionals associated with the real estate industry who attend, and the calibre of attendees.   In short it is:

•           21,000 plus delegates

•           €4 Trillion of assets managed by investors attending.

•           90 Countries

•           300 plus stands.

But what amazed me was that our nearest neighbours in the UK had a significant presence at MIPIM with stands from Liverpool, Manchester, London, West Midlands, (Bermingham & surrounds) Newcastle, Southampton, and Belfast.

But Ireland Inc had absolutely no presence at all at MIPIM either last year or this year 2024.  Not one single stand.

I attended MIPIM 2024 at the Palais de Festival in Cannes from the 12th to the 15th March, and even though there was no stand representing Ireland Inc at the conference, the 6am Ryanair flight from Dublin Airport to Nice on the way out was jammed full of Irish professionals who are associated with the property industry heading to MIPIM to represent their own private companies.

The National Association of Realtors in the United States (NAR) have a stand there that is 40 metres long which they have divided up into sections with 5 individual states each taking a four-metre section. This year Missouri, North Carolina, New York, Tennessee and Florida each took a section. NAR committed to being there for the next five years, so they obviously feel that they’re getting a return on their investment.

Every country in Europe and every major city in Europe seemed to be there, and the stands were certainly impressive.  So, it makes you wonder why Ireland Inc has absolutely no presence there at all.  If every other country and every city in Europe feel that they’re getting a good return on their investment in MIPIM, why is it that Ireland seems to think that it is not worth our while?

Every pension fund, every investment fund, every large commercial bank were there with a significant presence, looking for investments in which to place their substantial funds, so again why is it that Ireland Inc is not touting for that business?

We certainly have plenty to sell, and Ireland has always proved to be an extremely popular location for investments.

For example, Cork City have plans to develop the Docklands area and there are also plans to have a light rail system to Cork airport. Is that not something that the city of Cork could display at an Ireland stand?

Galway Port development is at an advanced stage, so it stands to reason that a project such as that should be displayed at a property conference like MIPIM to attract inward investment to Galway.

Some cities had huge scale models of their city, or projects within their city, on display with experts on hand to advise on the investment opportunities available. London had a huge, scaled model of the entire City of London in colour which I must say was very impressive and attracted a lot of people to the stand.

So, let’s imagine this, an Ireland Inc stand divided into four or five sections with each section dedicated to Galway, Cork, Limerick, Dublin and Waterford, with a separate hospitality section sponsored by Guinness, Jameson, Tullamore Dew, Bulmers, Butlers Chocolates, Bord Bia, Glenisk, Baileys, The Shed Distillery etc.

Imagine a scale model of Cork Docklands showing the proposed developments in the city of Cork and showing the proposed light rail system to the airport. Likewise with Galway and Limerick, showing their proximity to Shannon airport and highlighting the planned development in both cities.

There has been no Ireland Inc presence at MIPIM for a long time but maybe, just maybe 2025 will be the start of a long and fruitful harvest for Ireland in the south of France.  Allez le Verde.

Liam Hogan

Liam Hogan – April 2024


FIABCI International – MIPIM 2024 LinkedIn Video Link