Sunday 25 September 2016

1,000 emigrants a month returning home to Ireland

But most are targeting jobs in Dublin, increasing pressure on rental market

Published 01/05/2016 | 02:30

Experts predict that if the current improvement in the economy continues, the numbers of returning Irish from abroad will inevitably put more pressure on property prices. Stock Image
Experts predict that if the current improvement in the economy continues, the numbers of returning Irish from abroad will inevitably put more pressure on property prices. Stock Image

More than 250 Irish people are returning to live and work in Ireland every week - ramping up further pressure on an already squeezed housing market, particularly for the under-40 age group.

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With total immigration into the country now running at 5,775 a month, housing demands for those with young families - as well as singletons - is likely to escalate further over the coming months.

Experts predict that if the current improvement in the economy continues, the numbers of returning Irish from abroad will inevitably put more pressure on property prices.

But this week the Central Bank made it clear their controversial lending regulations are to remain in place - despite the guidelines making it impossible for many first-time buyers to get on the housing ladder.

While the Bank did indicate there may be scope for some review, the clear indication is that those without significant savings will still find it almost impossible to get a home loan.

It comes as figures also released this week show house prices in Dublin increased by 0.9pc in March - up 3.9pc compared to a year ago.

Outside the capital, prices fell by a marginal 0.2pc in March, but were 10.5pc higher compared to the previous 12 months.

Now, according to experts, an increase in the number of returning emigrants is heaping even further pressure on an already erratic housing market. The effect is most acute in Dublin and other main urban areas.

According to the Central Statistics Office (CSO), 60,600 people came to live and work in Ireland in 2014 - compared with 69,300 last year.

That means some 1,443 people are now entering the country every week.

Overall, the number of immigrants has risen by 27,500 in the past five years - from 41,800 in 2010 to 69,300 last year.

Data shows that more Irish men have returned home compared with women. Some in the under-40 age group coming back to Ireland are particularly affected by the strict Central Bank lending guidelines, which require house buyers to have a significant deposit.

Last year, the government announced plans to bring 100,000 emigrants home over the next two years.

Dr David Ralph, assistant professor of sociology at Trinity College Dublin, has warned that this could put a massive additional "strain" on the housing market.

"It's all well and good wanting Irish emigrants to return, but if you're adding extra pressure on an already incredibly creaking infrastructure, it poses more problems.

"We've already got a housing crisis in the capital and beyond.

"During the Celtic Tiger, returning emigrants were blamed for pushing up property prices and creating an extra strain on supply, therefore increasing prices.

"A large number of young people left the country in the past few years, but a sizable number are now returning.

"If we do attract this sort of phantom figure of 100,000 people, it's quite obvious that house prices and rents will go up even further."

Sunday Independent

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