More than 7,900 new houses were built in the first half of 2018, according to the Central Statistics Office, a year-on-year increase of 30 per cent. Despite the improvement, the figure is well below the estimated level of demand in the market, which is put at 30,000-35,000 annually.
The CSO’s “new dwellings completion” series provides the first accurate picture of residential construction rates in the State. Previously, the Government had relied on electricity connections, which typically overcount the number of new homes coming on to the market. The latest figures show scheme dwellings accounted for 63 per cent of all 4,419 new dwellings completed in the second quarter of this year, with apartments accounting for 11 per cent.
Single dwellings accounted for 26 per cent of all new dwellings completed, the lowest proportion since the series began in 2011, reflecting the shift away from one-off housing.
The majority of new houses were in Dublin and the mideast, where demand is strongest. They accounted for more than 60 per cent of all new housing completions. Dublin 15, which includes Castleknock, Tyrrelstown and Blanchardstown, was the area with the highest number (308) of new dwellings completed.
Since 2013 housing completions have begun to rise again, but at a more moderate rate than previously thought. The previous figures based on electricity connections were found to have overstated the number of new homes built in the State for several years.
The CSO’s, published for the first time in June, found that 53,578 homes were completed between 2011 and the end of 2017. That compares with previous Government estimates of 84,500. The figures indicate that on average fewer than 10,000 new homes were built annually over the past seven years despite the ongoing housing crisis.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the increase in the number of units being built put the Government in a “good position” to meet its housing delivery targets. “We have a housing crisis in Ireland, the solution is to build new homes and more homes and that is happening. It is going to take time, but we are getting there,” Mr Varadkar said. Brokers Ireland, the umbrella group for the industry here, said that on the basis of today’s figures the year-end completion total is likely to be less than 20,000, which would be 50 per cent behind the estimated yearly demand.
Rachel McGovern, the group’s director of financial services, said: “While today’s figures are much improved on last year’s, they are coming from a very low base. The figures point to a year-end likely figure of 16,000-18,000 units, unless the pace of increase accelerates in the second half of the year. “This falls dramatically short of the demand figure, which is estimated to be around 40,000 a year. Each year that passes where supply remains so very anaemic causes more pressure in the market.
“We’re seeing that in the tragic homeless figures and in the very high rents people are paying while the market remains dysfunctional. Supply is the only answer, and all Government effort should be focused on it.”