Amidst all the doom and gloom about the demise of the property sector it's easy to forget that there are people who still have money and who either sat out the bubble or timed their exit from the market perfectly.
They are usually industry veterans who have been through recessions before and recognised the need for conservative gearing and comparatively simple deals.
As one investment agent put it last week, a good deal was always a good deal – when you had to get complex financial engineering to make it seem a good deal you knew you were in trouble.
Frank Fahy's Shannon Homes Dublin has stopped developing because of the construction sector downturn but by that stage it was sitting on quite the pot of gold. Shareholders' funds stood at nearly €108.5m at the end of March 2009 after it made post-tax profits that year of €7.3m and saw an increase in the value of "available-for-sale investments" of more than €2m. The directors paid an interim dividend of more than €100,000 but directors' emoluments fell from more than €600,000 to just under €100,000.
The company's last mortgage was registered in 2001 according to Companies Office documents.
Subsidiary Shannon Homes Investments had members' funds of more than €76m at the end of March last year.
Fahy's company has developed residential schemes in Dublin and on the east coast, including the Laraghcon development in Lucan and schemes in Balgriffin off the Malahide Road. It bought much of the land before 2001, meaning it did not pay – by boomtime standards – large amounts for it. That meant that it was able to achieve a pre-tax profit margin of more than 50% on turnover of just under €80m for the year ended 31 March 2007. The company made a pre-tax profit of €40.36m for that year.
For years, those in the property industry looked at the balance sheet of Charlie Kenny's Clancourt with envy. The boom pushed the value of its investments higher and higher but it largely stayed out of the market during that time, aside from developing the former Dunlop Centre on Hatch Street into an office block that secured Aviva and Barclay's as tenants.
But it is apparently back in the market, reportedly being an underbidder for Liffey Valley shopping centre last year.
Other assets include Crescent shopping centre in Limerick and the Harcourt Centre office blocks in Dublin.
In September, AIB agreed to advance to Clancourt subsidiary Mall Holdings nearly €137m as part of a refinancing of its existing debt to the bank.
Clancourt was set up by Westport native Charlie Kenny, who began his career in insurance broking before moving into property development. It sold Parkway shopping centre in Limerick for more than €56m in 2006 and developed the Atlantic Coast hotel in Mayo.
Ken Rohan's Airspace Investments made a profit of nearly €7.5m for the year ended November 2009, an actual increase on the previous year. However, a €12m writedown of the group's property portfolio contributed to total recognised losses of more than €9m. That still left it with retained profits of more than €80.4m when subsidiaries are included.
Airspaces's conservative gearing – it was 23% last year and the company anticipated it would fall to 18% at the end of the 2010 financial year – means it is in far better shape than most of its competitors, particularly given that when non-recourse debt is excluded the figures fall to 12% and 7% respectively. Shareholders' funds stood at nearly €141.4m at the end of the year, with development land and works in progress valued at nearly €50m.
It has also signaled that it will return to the market as a buyer when it feels the time is right. "The group's financial strength will enable it to respond to suitable opportunities when the economic environment demonstrates signs of underlying improvement," the directors' report states.
The directors were paid a dividend of more than €2.5m, up from €1.94m the previous year.
In February, Rohan's Airspace sold some investments for €7.5m while exceptional items had included a gain of more than €12m from settling a long-term debt 10 years early.
Goodman has been typically low-key in his property investments, but the feeling in the market is that he is ready to buy more when he feels the time is right. He is an investor in the Goldman Sachs headquarters building in London, which was bought by Warren Private Clients, and is also involved in the Blackrock Hospital Group, the Hermitage Clinic and Galway Clinic.
He bought the Setanta Centre in Dublin city centre in 2003 for €89m and added the adjoining Earl of Kildare hotel for about €17m in 2007.
During the boom it was widely felt that Goodman's meat-processing plant near Dublin airport could prove extremely valuable when Metro North was built. More recently he's been trying to develop a waste facility for cooking oil at the site.
Before the downturn it was rumoured that he planned to redevelop many of his marts and abbatoirs in towns and city centres. Almost two years ago, he and his son Laurence Jr told the local council that they were planning to build a hotel-and-golf-course development on a 950-acre site they own near Dundalk, Co Louth. They also wanted 25 acres of land at the former meat-processing plant at Ravensdale rezoned for housing and sought to have lands west of Dundalk zoned for residential use and a mixed district centre.
They also drew up a masterplan for the development of a 58-acre site near Waterford city and asked South Tipperary County Council to recognise the need for "large floor-plate retailers" in Clonmel following the granting of permission for a mixed-use scheme on a five-acre site there.
Goodman is also reported to have sold land in Longford to Superquinn's backers for about €11m in 2005.
He is an investor in pet company C&D Foods and remains one of the largest beef processors in Europe.
The former wife of one developer apparently received a €10m settlement after their divorce but it was widely rumoured that the developer had hidden a lot of his money through the use of trusts. Later attempts to unwind them were opposed by his auditors, the rumour goes, but the former wife discovered their existence and went back to court. She is said to have received a further €30m as a result, meaning she is now wealthier than many of the country's former property tycoons. Her former husband isn't faring too badly either – word is he has told investment people that he has about €75m to spend at present.
The Brennan family, of Brennan's bread fame, keep their property dealings very low profile but have made a lot of money from investment in Britain. They are probably best known for their ownership of Hamley's toy store on Regent Street, London, but are also believed to have paid £73m for the Tiffany's building on Bond Street three years ago. That deal was based on the luxury retailer paying a Zone A rent of £650 per square foot, which was regarded as steep at the time. However earlier this year Piaget agreed to pay Irish investor Aidan Brooks £965 per square foot suggesting Tiffany's rent will rise significantly at the next review, increasing the building's value correspondingly. The Brennans also own the Versace shop on the street. UK industry magazine Estates Gazette recently estimated that the family, who have also been linked by investment sources to a major office scheme in Dublin, were worth more than €230m.