The CSO’s revised housing statistics throw into sharp relief the difficulties facing housebuilding in Ireland and the distance left to travel to achieve balance in the housing market estimated to be a required 35,000 units per year to meet population demands.
On a positive note, measures introduced by the Government, such as the Help to Buy have had an impact and in 2017 completions increased by 4,467 units or 41.6%.
Meath tops the table with an increase in completions over the last 12 months to the end of March 2018 of 73.3% or 518 new homes built. Limerick follows closely behind with a 71.5% increase on the previous year with 218 new houses built. Cavan was the only county to see a decrease in new units built on the previous 12-month figure. (Please find a county by county breakdown attached.)
Despite these figures, however, much more needs to be done to facilitate viable housebuilding throughout Ireland, not just in urban centres, to keep up with the demands of our growing population.
In 2017, the CIF identified a market failure in finance for regional housebuilders. Financial institutions are not lending outside the Greater Dublin Area and Cork and this will stymie housebuilding figures for the next decade in the regions. This threatens to undermine the National Development Plan, regional economic strategies and Project 2040, and will see a generation of young people migrating to Dublin for their livelihoods.
Tom Parlon, Director General, CIF said: “The truth is that to achieve the volume of housing we need spread across the country, we need the regional housebuilder to be able to access affordable finance. We have to now ensure that regional housebuilders, in areas where there is demand, are supported in building these homes. The Federation welcomes publication by the Minister for Finance of the proposals for the House Building Finance Ireland Initiative, which will support renewal of house building activity levels for small to medium sized builders in many regional locations.”
Current challenges for housebuilders:
Finance -Cost of equity and development finance continues to be a major issue.
Bonds- There is a willingness by financial institutes to re-enter into the market, but they need to see time limited bonds. Cash bonds cause a high finance restriction and the requirement for a coordinated single authority approach is paramount.
Input Costs- Housing input costs remain high.
Construction & Demolition Waste-The shortage of sites for the licensed disposal of construction waste. This is a particularly acute problem in Dublin and its immediate surroundings and is driving up construction costs.
Help to Buy- Help to Buy scheme is due to end 31st Dec 2019. It is important the scheme is extended to minimise market uncertainty.