Election promises on housing too ambitious, expert claims

Ireland’s housing crisis isn’t likely to be resolved any time soon, according to a recent opinion piece in the Irish Times.

The article by John FitzGerald says election promises on new home builds will prove very challenging over the lifetime of the next government. So far, different election manifestos have promised to radically scale up the rates of house building, particularly on social housing.

But certain promises could make the situation worse, FitzGerald warns, such as giving individuals more money to buy homes—a move which will bring about further price inflation and do nothing about the supply situation.

35,000 new homes needed a year

The key problem, he says, is that the economy will be not be able to deliver the planned massive increase in the supply of housing over the next few years. He quotes a recent Central Bank of Ireland study which shows that Ireland will need nearly 35,000 new homes a year over the next ten years to copy with population change.

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In 2019, some 21,000 homes were built. And if adults are to have their own homes so they are not forced to live with their parents or housemates, demand is more likely to total 47,000 new homes a year.

Percentage housing in Ireland is fuelled by its rapid population growth, much larger than most of its EU partners as those born in the baby boom years up to 1980 establish their own families.

Builders, plumbers, electricians needed

House building is not a commodity that can be imported and an increase in the industry demands more building workers and skilled tradesmen and women such as electricians, plasterers and plumbers.

An influx of builders from the EU states who joined in 2004 resulted in an increase in house building but thanks to Ireland’s current exorbitant rents, living in the country no longer presents the attractive option it once did.

It seems likely, FitzGerald comments, that whatever party takes government office will preside over a steady increase in house building but this will fall way short of what is needed. And building land is still very expensive, with a site in Dublin selling for €6.5 million recently.

Raising taxes that focus on the business sector might slow down the growth in jobs, FitzGerald says, and thus the demand for housing. But this then might create a situation where it is difficult to then re-start growth.


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