EAMON QUINN: 28,500 new homes to be completed next year

The Central Bank said the true number of home completions will be around 23,500 this year and 28,500 in 2019. But its new research is unlikely to put the controversy over counting new homes to bed any time soon, writes Eamon Quinn.

That’s because a lively debate has long flared about the accuracy of Irish statistics used by government officials from which key public decisions flow — including deciding where to build primary schools and hospitals.

In recent weeks, the ESRI spoke out about a new measure of economic wealth proposed by a high-level panel of official experts.

Counting the number of new houses built last year ought to be a lot more straightforward but that’s not the case. Few social or privately-owned homes were built during the crisis but new builds are finally ramping up. Nonetheless, the accuracy of building completions based on ESB power connections has long been questioned.

Getting the numbers right is central to the best ways to tackling homelessness and avoiding the misery of people paying inflated rents and home prices. Given the history of boom and bust, the State is wary of getting the numbers wrong again.

In its new measure, the Central Bank sticks to the numbers based on the ESB connections but checks their accuracy using other measures. One method it does not use is BER, or the energy ratings for new homes championed by Dermot O’Leary at Goodbody. But no matter how they are counted home prices are set to rise for years to come.

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