Tuesday, September 25, 2007

We need more housing

Conor made some interesting points on the nature of incentives to build houses pointing out the amount of empty houses that are in the country sighting.

The national average for unoccupied housings is 12.1% - and it’s 15% when holiday homes are added into the picture. For example, there’s 45,000 empty housing units in Dublin (25,000 in Dublin city council area alone). In Meath, over 6,000 housing units empty ; In Carlow, over 2,000 ; In Kildare, 6,700, and so on. And not one of these is a holiday home. How is Leitrim, with over 22% of its housing units empty,

That of course sounds bad however a few things are worth noting. For instance take the average housing stock figures. In Ireland we have 410 units per 1000 which is below the EU average of 465. Why is this the case? I would imagine the fact that we have a young population is a factor here. Many people living in shared accommodation who will in the coming years be getting married and moving into homes to start families. Where as now many houses in cities have 3-4 adults in the them, many soon will be looking for just 2. Resulting in an increase in the demand for housing. This can be seen in the fact that with its ageing population Germany has 8.2% empty housing and 474 units per 1000. It would seem strange that with our ageing and migration trends into Ireland that we will not require the Units per 1000 to increase to the EU average. When our demographics hits Germany’s current surely we will need the same amount of units. That in many ways means we still need more housing. Remember our pope children are just turning 27 with Irelands’s changing attitudes and the average age of mothers having their first child at 28.6 we are probably only reaching the peak of our baby boomers nesting.

However Conor’s points are indeed valid. While we may indeed more housing in the future then we currently have. Is it being put in the right place’s. Is Leitrim going to increase that much i.e 22%? I am not sure maybe it is optimisitic governments targets on regional developement. But the idea that we have too many houses on average looking at the rest of Europe it seems we are not over housed but indeed under housed and with the CSO projecting a the population to grow by 1.6% per year up to 2016 to 4,854,000 while much of Europe’s growth being less if not negative we probably have to have a greater then EU average build rate for another few years to insure that we have the housing stock to house this increase in population. Of course this does not mean the Irish property mania is justified just that we need to build for a few more years.

However with our build rate probably not that much longer.

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