And in a forthright address to an Irish bankers’ conference he went further, accusing “a cartel of big builders in Dublin” of “simply shutting up shop in the hope that if they wait long enough the buyers’ market will come to an end”.
The accusation angered the Irish Construction Industry Federation, which denied the charge and asked for a meeting with the minister to allow him to provide proof of his cartel allegation.
CIF director-general Tom Parlon claimed the minister was out of touch with the realities of the housing industry.
In his address, O’Keeffe said the downturn in the property sector was “merely a re-emergence of market sanity in place of market frenzy”.
Predicting the market would turn around next year, he said: “Buyers have lost the appetite for paying unrealistically high prices.”
O’Keeffe suggested it was time for developers to allow buyers acc-ess to affordable properties.
He claimed there was evidence that where builders cut prices, property is snapped up, and cited an unnamed development where he said 40 houses were sold in a single weekend after prices were cut by €70,000.