The Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers (IPAV) has called on Government to deliver “realistic” tax breaks for farmers looking to sell vacant farmhouses on their land.

IPAV chief Pat Davitt insisted a free, or amnesty period, from capital gains tax should be brought in for one to two years to drive up farmhouse sales and make further rural housing available. The capital gains tax is paid by the farmhouse seller, and therefore acts as a disincentive to sale.

“Farmers are slower to sell their property than they actually should be,” he suggested.

Davitt was speaking on the IPAV’s submission to the Oireachtas agriculture committee on Wednesday.

Government fund

At the meeting, the IPAV boss also said there should be a Government fund with low interest rates for vacant farmhouse buyers until such time as the home reaches a state of repair, where the purchaser is able to live in it and is in a position to re-mortgage it and repay the loan.

This Government fund, he said, should be admini?stered through the credit unions.

“One of the real difficulties is that potential buyers cannot draw down mortgages for these properties, because banks and other institutions won’t lend for such purposes,” he said.

Davitt also highlighted that utilising vacant farmhouses will help Ireland achieve its climate targets.

He told TDs and senators that a new build results in carbon emissions of 580kg per metre squared compared to a vacant farmhouse retrofit estimate of just 165kg.

“IPAV believes that the carbon advantages of utilising existing vacant dwellings, including vacant farmhouses, are as yet little appreciated but hold huge potential,” he said.

Davitt also called on local authorities to bring 25,000 vacant homes, including those on farmland, into use each year for the next three years.

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