January is now but a distant memory and the real business of 2017 has well and truly begun.
It has been a reasonably good start to the year too from an economic perspective with a number of businesses either relocating here or proposing to from the UK in the wake of Brexit and the Live Register yesterday hitting a post-crash low with just 7.1% unemployed.
While more jobs and more employment will always be welcomed, they create their own problems too – namely in relation to housing.
Early indications are that around 47,000 houses would have sold across Ireland last year. That’s still well below what is deemed to be normal in a functioning market.
While there are more and more new developments launching, they are not becoming available quickly enough or at the right price for the average person to afford.
Yesterday the Ireland 2040 Plan was launched with a prediction that an “absolute minimum” of 500,000 new homes would be needed to meet demand.
Most of this total is in and around our main towns and cities and while that leads to the knock on need for greater infrastructure, you sometimes have to wonder just where those dwellings are going to come from.
Building between 25,000 to 30,000 extra homes every year is difficult given the fact that construction costs are still high. There are also planning obstacles that need to be considered.
Last year prices rose by an average of 7% nationally and that’s a trend that is likely to continue as long as demand outweighs supply – something that is surely going to happen if more jobs are brought here as a result of Brexit.
As we settle into a New Year it remains to be seen how Brexit will play out. There will be headaches from it but equally opportunity and even when the UK pull the trigger on Article 50, it will be still two years before the real split happens.
Housing, without even mentioning the likes of rental costs and social housing, is as big a problem as ever though and perhaps even a more immediate one.
The challenge in the year ahead is to finally do something in relation to it that actually makes a difference.
Let us have your say on the current situation…
Will companies be put off coming here due to a lack of available and affordable housing?
Has Ireland any chance of reaching its target of 500,000 new homes by 2040?
Do you think house prices will continue to increase in 2017?
Share your thoughts below…