Housing market 'slowly turning the corner', claims minister

Darragh O'Brien welcomed reports that work started on 30,000 new homes last year but cautioned Ireland is still playing catch up after pandemic delays
Housing market 'slowly turning the corner', claims minister

Work underway on a housing development in Carrigaline, Cork. File Picture: Dan Linehan

Ireland's housing market is "slowly turning the corner", the Minister for Housing says.

Darragh O'Brien was discussing figures from estate agent Sherry Fitzgerald which show that work started on more than 30,000 new homes in 2021. 

While the company cautions that even that figure may not be enough to meet demand, Mr O'Brien said that it is a good sign.

However, Mr O'Brien warned that the two years of Covid-enforced shutdowns to home building meant that the country was behind where it would like to be.

"I think we are slowly (turning the corner)," Mr O'Brien said. "It's welcome news, and the projections into 2022 is good news, but we are playing catch up. I think we need to realise that." 

We had two years where supply was greatly restricted because of Covid.

"We made up some lost ground towards the end of last year. I'll have figures on completions for 2021 in the coming weeks, but 2022 looks good. 

"We're going to be delivering affordable homes at scale this year for people. We'll deliver more social homes than we've ever done before in any given year."

Ireland is "catching up", Minister Darragh O'Brien has warned. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Ireland is "catching up", Minister Darragh O'Brien has warned. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Mr O'Brien said that the country needs an average of 35,000 homes a year up to 2030 and that meant we were "catching up".

"So is it going to be enough in 2022? No, it's not. But it's going to be a significant increase that people will feel a difference in."

Asked about Dublin City Council's proposal in its development plan to limit build-to-rent apartments in the city, Mr O'Brien said that he was constrained from commenting as the minister responsible for housing, but said that councils "have a responsibility to bring forward development plans which will increase housing".

However, he said that any measures which made building apartments more difficult needed to be weighed up.

"I can understand why people want to ensure that there are more homes available for people to buy and to live in," the minister said. 

"I want that too, but then people need to understand sometimes the measures that may seem popular when they're put together and be brought forward could have an adverse effect in relation to restricting that supply."

We have an issue with the viability of apartments at the moment and we're working on that. 

"That's been an issue that's been around for a number of years now. We're not going to fix that overnight," he said.

"So we need to be very careful when we're making interventions into the market itself that they should be about increasing supply."

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