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Home-building survives Covid but still cannot match buyers’ demand

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A total of 20,676 new houses and apartments were completed in 2020, Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures show.

A total of 20,676 new houses and apartments were completed in 2020, Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures show.

A total of 20,676 new houses and apartments were completed in 2020, Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures show.

Home-building has held up well considering the Covid-19 disruption, but not well enough to match the numbers of mortgage-ready buyers.

Prices – which were largely unaffected by the pandemic – are expected to rise as pent-up demand is unleashed when viewing restrictions ease.

A total of 20,676 new houses and apartments were completed in 2020, Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures show.

That was just 2pc fewer than in 2019 despite the shutdown of construction for a time and delays while sites were prepared for restricted working.

A late surge in building during the last three months of the year when restrictions ended got many developments over the line.

But the number of completions is still far below the approximately 30,000 new dwellings a year that experts say need to be built to cater for existing demand, population growth and inward migration.

The Association of Irish Mortgage Advisors (AIMA) says existing demand is particularly strong, with many home-seekers not only retaining their employment and income during the year, but having more time to get their loans sorted and focus on where they want to buy.

“The pace of activity for mortgage approvals in recent months has demonstrated that there is certainly no shortage of qualified borrowers seeking to purchase homes,” said Trevor Grant, AIMA chairperson.

“Despite lockdown restrictions affecting the viewing of properties, AIMA members are reporting a very proactive cohort of would-be purchasers.

“They are getting all the necessaries out of the way, so that when the time comes for them to be able to physically view prospective homes, they are ready with the funds they need to make their purchase.”

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Mr Grant said the result was that the housing market was becoming very competitive. With much construction currently on lockdown, that trend was likely to continue.

“In an already squeezed property market, where demand has consistently exceeded supply, the lack of supply of suitable properties will continue to be an issue and will impact those looking for a home this year,” he said.

The CSO figures show how uneven activity was last year. In April, there were just 396 completions, a 72pc drop on the same month in 2019, while in November completions were up 31pc on the same month a year before.

Eircode analysis shows area W91 in Naas topped the list for the highest number of completions with 871 for the year, while H91 in Galway had 729.

All the other high-number areas were in the Dublin suburbs and commuter belt.

Just over half, 57pc, of all new homes completed in 2020 were in housing estates, while 24pc were one-off houses and 19pc were in apartment developments.

Apartments accounted for 4,014 of the new dwellings, an increase of 14.5pc on 2019, and that has reduced the average size of new dwellings by 4pc.

One striking figure shows that 1,303 student accommodation spaces were completed in the last three months of 2020 but they are not counted as new dwelling completions because they are not self-contained units.



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