Home starts rise amid vacant units

Home starts rise amid vacant units

A significant increase in house-building is still nowhere near to fulfilling demand for new homes, while the number of vacant residential properties remains at a high level, figures from GeoDirectory, the database of addresses compiled by An Post and the Ordnance Survey of Ireland, suggest.

According to the GeoDirectory, construction of new homes, or commencements, reached 7,457 this month, up by 50% from a year ago, and consistent with Department of Housing figures that suggest the construction of at least 17,151 new homes got underway in 2017 — an increase of 37% from 2016. There were 10,000 vacant residential units in Cork city and county, and 5,000 in Dublin.

The GeoDirectory figures show that while the housing industry is responding, to some degree, to the huge levels of demand, supply is still falling far short of the annual 35,000 new housing units the Economic and Social Research Institute, and other senior forecasters, estimate are needed each year to make a dent in pent-up demand.

There has been a lively debate, over the past year, about the true level of housing starts, with some experts questioning estimates based on ESB connections as overstating the level of house-building activity.

But a “significant” response by the construction industry, in building new homes, has, nonetheless, failed to meet the high level of demand, said GeoDirectory chief executive, Dara Keogh.

The GeoDirectory figures match recent estimates of the Construction Industry Federation and show Leinster accounts for over two-thirds of the new-home builds. Dublin and Cork accounted for the largest share of new home starts in December, at 2,272 units and 815 new homes, respectively, of the total of 7,457 new starts.

The Leinster commuter counties of Meath and Kildare accounted for the next highest starts, by county, at 741 and 442 units, in the month.

Galway had 371 starts in the month and Limerick had 335 units underway. GeoDirectory figures define a new-building start as a foundation laid in the ground, and include apartment blocks that will have a number of residential units.

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