The latest figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that housing completions in Ireland reached 21,241 in 2019 representing a decade-high, but Goodbody Stockbrokers today warned that the policy uncertainty may impact on the trajectory of output over the coming years.
By region, urban sprawl continued unabated towards the end of 2019, with completions in the Mid-East (Dublin's commuter counties) growing 24% year on year (yoy) in the fourth quarter to 1,554 units. This compares to the modest 3% uptick in Dublin in the fourth quarter.
For 2019 overall, Dublin experienced the weakest growth (+2%), with strong growth in the Midlands (+46%), West (+46%) and the Mid-East (+36%). When compared with the size of the population in these regions, the Mid-East is building the most amount of units currently at 7.4 per 1000 of the population.
Dublin (5.0) is the only other region building more than the national average (4.3), reflecting the ongoing uneven nature of building in Ireland. The European average for new house building stands at 4.6 per 1000. Given Ireland's superior population growth, one would expect the rate of new housebuilding to be in excess of the European average.
Apartment completions grew rapidly in 2019 (+60%) but apartments continue to represent the lowest percentage of new build in the EU. The 3,644 apartments represents just 17% of completions in 2019, relative to an EU average of 59%. Of these units, the majority (c.80%) are purchased by Private Rental Sector (PRS) investors.
There is also a significant amount of apartments in the planning and development process that will depend on the ongoing buoyancy of the PRS sector. This would be put under threat if some of the policy proposals of Sinn Féin were to be implemented if they were to find their way into power.
According to Goodbody Stockbrokers, "Housing was of critical importance to the outcome of Saturday’s general election. Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin all promise a significant ramp-up in public housing. FG has pledge to add 12K new homes per annum to the social housing stock by 2021. FF have promised to deliver 50K new affordable homes and 50K social homes by 2025. Sinn Féin meanwhile has the most ambitious programme of producing 100,000 new public homes by 2025."
They added, "In the context of 21,241 units completed in 2019, all targets look very ambitious in the context of the capacity shortages already being seen in the industry. All tenor types – social, private rented and privately owned – are required. Some party pledges risk crowding out the private sector."