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Number of houses built at 35-year low

THE number of new houses built last year plummeted to the lowest level in 35 years as prices continue to fall.

And there is no sign of the property market bottoming out with demand for new homes continuing to fall.

The full extent of the property slump is revealed in an official report obtained by the Irish Independent.

It shows that just 14,602 houses were built last year.

This is the lowest number since well before 1975, when 26,788 houses were built.

Some 93,419 houses were built in 2006; 78,027 in 2007; 51,724 in 2008; and 26,420 in 2009.

The figures, from a Department of the Environment report on house construction over the past 40 years, confirm the price collapse is continuing.

"The market is still in freefall. And it has not yet bottomed out," a government source said.

"Unless prices stabilise and people start demanding more houses it looks like there is more to go in terms of the price drop."

Construction activity and employment levels may finally start to bottom out this year, according to an independent economic assessment commissioned by the Government and undertaken by DKM.

The number of workers employed in construction fell from 272,600 in 2007 to 121,00 last year. At the same time, construction tender prices fell by as much as 35pc in some sectors.

There are 33,225 empty units in 2,846 ghost estates, and the Government has taken out long-term leases on 2,500 units for social housing.

Irish Independent