300,000 homes are currently unoccupied: Why are we still building?

300,000 homes are currently unoccupied: Why are we still building?

More than 300,000 homes are currently unoccupied: Why are we still building? “Ireland is awash with buildings that few people either can afford or want to purchase,” states a new report published by The National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis (Nirsa).

Based at NUI Maynooth, Prof Rob Kitchin the Director of the State-funded academic institution said that a post-mortem is needed into the Government’s failure to control the property bubble… “An independent inquiry is needed to investigate all aspects of the planning system and its operation within and across different agencies and at all scales in Ireland including charges of localism, cronyism and clientelism,”… “It would be foolhardy to carry out a banking inquiry without also looking into planning mistakes” he said.

Findings of the report include:

  • Reckless planning has left one in six houses uninhabited for most of the year
  • More than 300,000 homes are currently unoccupied with 120,000 existing houses unlikely ever to be sold and there are more than 620 half-empty or unfinished “ghost estates”
  • The Government failed to adequately oversee, regulate and direct local planning, and actively encouraged its excesses through tax incentives which greatly exacerbated the crisis
  • Local authorities ignored good planning guidelines, regional and national objectives, sensible demographic profiling of potential demand and much of the land zoned lacks essential services
  • Counties with most empty housing include Cavan, Longford, Leitrim, Roscommon and Sligo; The number of houses in these counties soared by almost half during the boom and they have enough housing now zoned to feed demand for the next 27 years
  • Nationally, there is enough excess housing and zoned land for the next 17 years
  • Cork city has enough for the next 64 years, Monaghan for 59 years, Dún Laoghaire Rathdown for 47 years and Roscommon for 45 years
  • And to top it all; new figures show work has begun on 10,942 homes since the start of 2009 — with more than 7,000 new homes completed this year already.

Property bubble enquiry:

  • More than 300,000 homes are currently unoccupied: Why are we still building?
  • Should there be an inquiry into the Government failure to control the property bubble?
  • And if so… what should happen?
There are 30 comments for this article
  1. Pingback: Some "Housing Shortage": we need to "bulldoze 200,000 spare houses" - Deutsche Bank. WTF!!!! - Page 7
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  3. McGarrell Reilly at 4:27 pm

    From a business point of view, if a property developer have enough cash in the bank, they should start build new homes when the cost of building are low and cheap to buy land. And sell them once the market is recovered. That’s what business schools teach their MBA students how to buy low and sell high.

  4. Stephen W at 11:10 pm

    An Bord Pleanala (muppets) have given approval for approx 600 units (High rise included) on the second part of the old Dun Laoghaire golf course. The head planner had actually voted against the planning. 850 units were given approval last year on the other side of the course. I drove through that area a few weeks ago and all the trees were cleared and the apartments were being built right up to the road. I actually felt nauseous at the absoulte disgusting site of a new concrete jungle. The funny thing is I know someone who was refused planning by An bord Pleanala for a small single residence to be used as a home that backs onto the same golf course. I just don’t get how they are allowed to get away with these decisions especially when we have so many houses for sale. Are the builders still pulling the strings???

  5. W10 at 6:16 am

    regarding the suggestion that we get rid of government and the banks… could somebody who suggested this explain what they are replaced with and then go on to describe what the country would be like in this scenario?

    • wickedfairy at 11:26 am

      a less corrupt system, the croynisim in this country is what is wrong, the golden circle. I have a very interesting one page document with details of who is tied into who, makes for very interesting reading if you would care for a copy. Get rid of corrupt government, we have had enough

    • wickedfairy at 11:27 am

      could not be any worse with the bunch of stooges we have at the moment, a crech of kids could do a better job, no kidding!

  6. Shaz at 8:24 pm

    Is this only the Government, or banks or economists to blame? What about the people themself who went beyond their means and got huge big mortgages… Was that not all greed? Well we all created this mess and we all have to clear it. We all are responsible for this. I don’t own a property even though I blame myself for not stoping my friends falling in this… In my openion, one way out for us to work hard, increase our productivity and keep our cost down by any means to remain competitive in the market

  7. john at 11:03 am

    Prof who ? Its amazing the amount of people that will try to make money out of a crises and exaggerate the problem , in 2/3 years jobs will pick up demand for property will resume , Prof who and the likes should get get a real job ,I would say prof who would like to investigate the goverment and get some money

    • Sambuca at 1:47 pm

      John should take his head out of the sand. There IS a problem, but perhaps John has an answer. Tell us how, in 2 or 3 years, are 300,000 houses going to be moved.

    • Kango7 at 8:45 pm

      We are maybe getting a bit too much negativity now. I agree the politicians have totally let us down and have no respect for the people. Hence they are they have awarded themselves the highest pay, pensions and holidays in the political world. We need a better breakdown on these statistics being quoted to see what the viable house market is outside of the ghost estates, what the demand might be in the coming years etc. The banks encouraged by Government are artificially driving down house prices by not making available credit and having a second slice of the cherry by telling buyers who have agreed fire sale prices that they now value up to 15% lower and will not approve the loan until they achieve this. Will the government step in and ban this practice, my foot they will.We know this is going on. The people who have stashed the billions they made will then move in over the next years to buy up these bargains to double their fortunes. Meanwhile the government are proposing to assist their developer friends by buying up the ghost estates that nobody wants (not the other vacent housing stock) and putting all the social welfare house benefit people into these to further depress the normal market and ensure the tax payer picks up yet another tab. Knock them I say and allow the normal market to recover. The value of our housing stock is now well below european levels in equivalent areas. There is a game going on here.

  8. Chris at 9:20 am

    Would be interesting to have a breakdown of who owns these, NAMA, private owners, banks, etc.

    • wickedfairy at 5:24 pm

      well Chris, 51% of Nama is a special purpose vehicle owned by private interst. ARE YOU SURPRISED? Very little discussion on this subject, this is the elephant in the room.

  9. Leo O’Brien at 7:47 am

    The housing bubble was caused by excessive greed and poor planning. Lack of government control contributed. Now what? Invte FORIEGN industry in in clusters with cheap imported laabour to fill these houses or else knock the useless ghost estates

  10. Mary at 11:32 pm

    Oh please! Having watched “Prime Time” followed by articles in today’s tabloids, I cannot tolerate any more of this nonsense. It makes me so angry how totally irresponsible and unaccountable so many individuals have been (bankers, developers, government officials) who all now sit back and say “what the hell, it has happened so let everyone else deal with it, not their problem” I feel even more infuriarated when I think of how my husband & I struggled to do everything by the book and be realistic/responsible to save & live within our means. Yet we along with everyone else will have to do our bit to clear up this outrageous mess our country has presented us with. Frustrated no end.

  11. JT Campbell at 10:09 pm

    The Germans (and, I believe,the French and other nations) have a system whereby inflationary pressure on housing is removed by the simple requirement that the buyer puts up 25% of the purchase price. When the banks in Ireland and Britain were throwing money at would-be purchasers it’s no wonder that builders got greedy. Their method of pricing houses seems to have been “think of a figure, then double it…”, and the mugs just had to buy because the banks and building societies were so eager to help them commit financial suicide.

  12. Thomas Mitchell at 6:08 pm

    I was considering moving back to Ireland to open a business such as I have here in Canada which is very
    successful. I inquired few mts back about a House for myself and a place for my business.I was amazed at the extreamly high cost of homes and properties in Limerick where I come from.How can the Celtic Tiger
    which everyone here in Canada spoke about go so fast into the sleeping Lamb.
    I spoke to my best friend in Limerick who also has a business and his words to me were.
    Hold off Tom for a year or so and they will be giving houses and properties away for next to nothing
    So very sad as I am so proud of my Country and beauriful Limerick City.
    When I left Ireland homes here in Canada were more expensive for the same soze city.For the Home I wanted in Limerich would have been $420.000.oo Canadian
    I can get a Mansion here for that.
    What went wrong in Ireland,please explain if possible

  13. woodspirit at 5:17 pm

    I agree with wickedfairy. This is a wonderful country with only one main problem – it is run and has been run for years by a bunch of corrupt, jobs for me mates, cronieistic [is that a word I like ?] inefficient, response speed of a snail on tranquilisers to situations, bail out ye olde golden circle with no legal fallouts and contiuity of thinking only in straight lines.People are so pissed now with politicians with few exceptions that I for one blame the buggers on any bad weather that comes along. Why are the opposition not clamouring against this anglo irish farce and clamouring for an election – if they are doing so, they are doing it very quitely or else many are afraid of what might come out in the wash.
    The list of corrruption goes deep and wide – purchasing farm lands with inside planning advanced knowledge about motorways and ring roads – where of course many of these estates and emty apartments have been constructed. I would not say any more as I feel bad uneloquent language welling up struggling to come out – great country run by a bunch of ………….

  14. JT Campbell at 2:37 pm

    As long as the Irish people vote into government clowns like Lord Biffo, failed former Finance Minister and now woefully failing Taoiseach, the calamities such as the recent, and on-going crises, will continue. Joined-up thinking is beyond Cowan and his party. How they boasted about the “wonderful” Celtic Tiger. That moggy is a raddled, exhausted and embarrassing old thing. They’re not boasting now.

    • wickedfairy at 3:10 pm

      and they are undemocratic,they will not hold local elections which might change the balance of power. It will cost us, the taxpayer, 100k to take a court challenge, GUBU is what it is.

  15. Joanne at 1:59 pm

    Surely Bertie cannot be proud of his legacy. I can understand that there are many parties involved in why we are in this mess in the first place, however, I find it absolutely astonishing that nobody has been held accountable for this mess that the corrupt politicians and planners have landed us in. Unless we get rid of some of the politicians and bankers (who are so far removed from reality) that landed us in this mess then we will continue to go around in circles and not make good enough economic strides and I believe that the greed will continue. I think its high time to give the government their P45. The planning authorities and builders also have so much to answer to. Estates full of houses that all look the same with hardly no green areas, very little landscaping, no play areas – surely some of these estates (not all) are just like pigeon holes and no emphasis on creating beautiful homes to be proud of.

  16. reeves at 12:18 pm

    Government isn’t the solution, government is the problem. It’s no wonder Ireland’s real estate market is in chaos. The people of Ireland seem to think government owes them something. That government should have the answers to real estate bubbles and the like. The fact is, there is an overabundance of homes on the market, causing prices to go down and many homes left empty. Let the free market sort this out and get government planners out of the picture altogether. When demand exceeds supply once again, homes will be snapped up, prices will retuurn to normal, and the market will normalize. This has been happening since the dawn of time. It is only when goverbment gets its ugly claws in the picture that we have bubbles and an overabundance of products that consequently won’t sell.

    • wickedfairy at 1:05 pm

      I dont think homes will be “snapped up” they way they did in the past, as I said, a huge amount of sub-standard buildings out there. People have wised up, they wont be buying tat for a quarter of a million anymore.

    • JT Campbell at 4:12 pm

      “Let the free market sort it out…..”? It was the (too) free market, running riot, that got the country into the horrendous mess it’s in now. While the government sat on its hands, as though mesmerised, the bankers and “developers” conspired to destroy the economy. No doubt a lorry-load of brown envelopes lubricated the process. The truth is that the Government agencies didn’t properly regulate the greedy so-and-sos. How 300,000 empty properties are going to be sold over the coming decade is a puzzle and, remember, the fools are still building.

  17. Richie Barry at 11:50 am

    They were a number of high-profile nay-sayers (economists, academics etc..) who warned of an over-reliance on property years ago but were either threatend/ridiculed (Bertie’s suggest they kill themselves being one prominent example) or simply ignored. Everyone was enjoying the good times and didn’t want to hear anything negative.

    A mentality continually re-enforced by the people making the biggest profits from it (politicians, bankers etc…) There are a whole class of people who all contributed to this mess and so far have not been held accountable.

  18. Bob at 11:49 am

    Umm, maybe because the houses were built in the wrong places? like Leitrim, Roscommon, Kerry etc??

    Not that great of a shortage in Dublin proper…

  19. One Tax Payer Who Is Not Bailing Out ANYONE! at 11:44 am

    Oh the whole building industry and it’s ties with “government” is a shambles from beginning to end… Like Wicked Fairy, I don’t give them a capital G anymore either, I also use “” to indicate that I use the word very loosely, akin to the manner in which they controlled the whole sorry building debacle…

    The whole sad and sorry tale boils back to “Brown Envelopes for Boys”; I when I made a smiliar comment to one county council office (when I highlighted issues concerning my own home) they ran for the hills!!! They would have stayed and fought their ground and rubbished my comment had there been no truth to it!!!

    Let’s face it – this is going to just be a lot of talk and NOTHING will come of it.

    Someone send in Charlie Bird and let him bring the whole lot of them to the ground, like the rubble that will ensue when those houses are knocked, as he did with those corrupt banks. Mr Bird for Taoiseach and Senator Norris for President – now those boys would shake the place up!!!

  20. elcke at 11:34 am

    this is really madness, we never understood already for years, why everybody was building and building and then for the most unreal prices they wanted to sell these buildings, especially the authorities should have noticed this for a long time but I am afraid they put their heads into the sand and thought after me there will be someone else to be blaimed.
    only perhaps for the houses on prime locations. built with high standards, sorry to have to say that are mostly no irish standards, with enough surrounding grounds,for reasonable prices (many houses re still too expensive for the value you get) may be able to be sold in due time.

  21. wickedfairy at 11:27 am

    Prime Time last night on this very subject. Full of economists and university professors discussing these ghost estates and what is to be done about them. A lot of the work is so shoddy that they will probably have to be knocked. Which begs two questions, if they were so shoddy why were they “fit for purpose” for people paying VAST mortages but now even social housing does not want them as they have no facilities, schools, shops etc. What were the planners doing?? Secondly, where were all these “egghead” economists when this corrupt government (I dont give them a capital letter anymore) and their developers were running riot. Very little comment from them then. THEY ALL MAKE ME SICK. I am hoping to leave this damp, corrupt, gombeen little country in the next few years, I have no intention of coming to work on a zimmerframe to pay for these clowns’ greed and lack of foresight. We are now all wage slaves for the rest of our lives after this debacle. I remember travelling up to Monaghan three years ago and being in awe at the amount of miserable little estates out in the middle of nowhere and wondering who they were all for. And I am not an economist, don’t even a university degree. What I REALLY think about the whole sorry mess, would not be printable.

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