An estimated 345,000 houses or 17% of the Irish housing stock is vacant according to a report published by the Urban Environment Project at University College Dublin.
In November 2008, Finfacts published data showing that 350,000 housing units were vacant while the Construction Industry Federation last year estimated the level at 35,000 but that may relate only to unoccupied new units. The CSO said in an analysis of Census 2006,that there were 266,000 vacant dwellings in 2006 representing 15% of the total housing stock. Of these, 175,000 were houses, 42,000 were flats and 50,000 were classified as holiday homes. County Leitrim had the highest percentage of vacant dwellings (29.3%) while 11.7% of dwellings in Dublin City were vacant at the time of the census. There were 140,000 vacant housing units according to Census 2002.
The UCD report says that the State toxic assets agency, the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA), may delay the normal market recovery process by seeking to prevent downward price corrections. Stripping out holiday homes, dereliction and factors in normal vacancy levels to facilitate the rental market, the study finds the country still has 170,000 houses and apartments it does not need. More than one in five homes outside the greater Dublin area are empty, compared to around one in 12 in and around the capital.
The report finds house prices are still at very high multiples of average incomes. Vendors, the report finds, are unwilling to face the inevitable and reduce prices.
On Thursday, Finfacts reported that Deutsche Bank said that Ireland was among the European countries where prices have to fall further and the reality of continuing high price expectations can be confirmed by checking postings on the main property sale sites.
“Allowing for holiday homes, obsolescence and an expected market vacancy rate, over 170,000 of the housing stock in Ireland can be categorised as an excess vacant supply,” the study by researchers at UCD and Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) says.
“The identified vacancy levels have major consequences for the future prospects and valuations of development land,” according to Dr Brendan Williams of the UCD school of geography, planning and environmental policy, who was the lead author of the report.
This would have “significant implications” for Nama as well as national and regional planning policies.
“Valuations of development land based on the expected sale of completed developments will need to be revised severely downward,” Williams said.