Saturday 23 September 2017

Only sound policy can stabilise housing market

For Sale signs in Rialto. Photo: Frank Mc Grath
For Sale signs in Rialto. Photo: Frank Mc Grath

It is astounding to think that we are back in a so-called housing crisis while the property collapse is not just fresh in the memory but still a daily nightmare for so many people who over-extended themselves during the 'boom' or are living in negative equity. It is now estimated by the Housing Agency that the country needs 80,000 houses, 38,000 in Dublin alone. Such is the scale of the housing shortage that the Government is considering establishing a 'Strategic Investment Fund' to provide capital for builders and developers who can no longer get access to bank funding.

Of course this 'shortage' is confined to certain areas, mostly Dublin and other large urban areas where there is a lack of family homes. At the other end of the scale there are many towns and villages who will have to live with the nightmare of 'ghost estates' for the foreseeable future.

What both extremes of the property story tell us is that it is imperative that the country does not sleep-walk into another housing bubble. To avoid this we do need to build more houses, but we also need to closely examine the type of houses allowed by the planners and the location of such houses. But, most important of all, the authorities, be they legislators, planners or regulators, must ensure that any new property 'boom' is in the best interests of home-buyers, not developers, speculators, builders or landlords.

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