Over 20,000 housing units a year needed in Ireland

Cork, one area where the mismatch between supply and demand is severe Photo: Infomatique

Over 20,000 housing units a year will need to be built in Ireland in the coming three years to meet growing demand, warns a new report.

The Housing Agency’s new report forecasting growth in the country’s property market highlights a “persistent mismatch” between the supply and demand for housing, particularly in Dublin and surrounding counties, and major cities such as Cork, Galway and Limerick.

“Nationally, there was an undersupply of the required housing in 2014 (73% of the requirement was provided), allowing for pent up demand from 2012 and 2013,” explains the report. New household formation, meanwhile, is projected to increase for each of the next three years, which means “an accelerated delivery of residential units” is required to keep up with demand.

The report calculates that 20,916 homes will need to be built on average every year until 2017, with the total area of zone land capable of accommodation over 414,000 residential units.

Indeed, the population is at its highest in 150 years at 4.5 million people, placing strain upon the housing market that cannot be matched by supply levels. The average household size in the country has fallen significantly over the last 9 years, though, from an average of 3.04 in 2002 to 2.77 in 2011. Based on an assessment of regional trends, it has been calculated that it will fall further to 2.67 by 2018, meaning that the majority of new housing will now accommodate fewer people.

Minister for State with responsibility for Housing, Mr Paudie Coffey welcomes the report, saying it “contributes greatly to an overall understanding of housing needs in Ireland, ensuring that the most up to date and comprehensive data is available relating to current housing supply and emerging needs. Importantly, this data will help ensure policy responses are evidence-based and needs-led, as we endeavour to build sustainable communities for the present and future generations”.

“Housing is a complex issue, and accurate, timely and up to date data helps us fully understand what the demand looks like,” adds Chairman of the Housing Agency Dr Conor Skehan.  “It gives us the opportunity to ensure that new housing
supply is the right type, in the right place, and the right size, and, crucially, that it is affordable.”

What is clear is that increased supply will be gradual as the sector begins to recover. However,
a substantial step-up in housing output is required over the next three years to meet this
increasing demand.”