Thursday 25 April 2019

Housing inflation is in check at last - all it took was snuffing out all of the buyers

The median nationwide price paid for a home this year is €237,000, according to the CSO. Stock picture
The median nationwide price paid for a home this year is €237,000, according to the CSO. Stock picture
Mark Keenan

Mark Keenan

Proving there's more than one way to skin a cat (in this case Celtic Tiger-style property price inflation) the Central Bank brings us great news today. Runaway house inflation in the capital is at last being brought under control - thanks to everyone being prevented from buying houses. Pretty much.

It follows sustained years of rampant increases, with a Government which has done everything possible to prevent the construction of homes in numbers vitally needed.

Now the Central Bank tells us the inevitable has finally happened - rising prices have run slap bang into the loan limit ceilings it put in place as a barrier to property inflation some years ago.

The Monty Python crew couldn't make that one up on a good day - small country solves city property inflation by stamping out buyers.

No buyers, no inflation, see? The Central Bank is of course technically correct in claiming credit for finally calming Dublin house prices. Well done Central Bank. Brilliant.

Joking aside (and I'm only half joking so far), without those Central Bank lending ceilings enforced by law, prices would have become even more unsustainable. But then again, without excess or profligate mortgage lending (we don't have it), what difference does it really make? Our spintastic Government also flags today big percentage increases in new home construction, even if it is from the proverbial very low base. That's good news too.

But it is the other recent news we have read on the housing market that tells us what we really need to know about an increasingly desperate crisis now affecting everybody.

We have Dublin Simon flagging that 93pc of properties are now not available to rent with HAP payments - homes on the bottom rung of the ladder. We have homeless children sleeping in Garda stations and parked cars.

We have talented Dublin natives like musician David Kitt and DJ Kelly-Anne Byrne moving abroad because they can't afford rent.

We have workers who came here from other parts of Europe going home because you can't rent or buy a home on a below average wage.

We have a prioritisation of the development of tourist accommodation that is overriding the basic housing needs of Irish citizens.

We have an average first time buyer age of 34, and angry students protesting at campuses nationwide because they can't afford accommodation.

We have roads clogged up with cars in housing estates because kids in their 30s are still living with pensionable mum and dad.

We have children being born to older and older mothers as people postpone starting families.

We have State-owned banks falling over themselves to sell thousands of mortgages to vulture funds.

We have Dublin rent refugees bolstering the populations of Wicklow Town, Gorey and Portlaoise.

We have big international employers, on which Ireland has become reliant, finding it tougher to get necessary talent to come to Dublin.

We have home ownership down from a historic 80pc to the mid-60pcs at the same time as a one-bedroom apartment in Dublin costs €1,500 to €2,000 per month to rent.

We have a Nero as Housing Minister, fiddling with the national homeless figures while the crisis burns.

And we have now officially reached the point where average earners cannot buy or rent an average home in Dublin.

But at least house inflation has been checked.

Irish Independent

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