Only about 8,000 of the 21,000 new homes built in the Republic last year were offered for sale on the open market, according to the Construction Industry Federation.
The federation, which represents most builders, says that the State acquired at least 4,400 new homes for social housing, while investment funds bought 95 per cent of the 3,644 apartments completed here last year.
As a consequence, the federation says that many people seeking to buy their first home “continued to find themselves locked out of the market”.
The Republic’s housing shortage was a key issue in this month’s general election.
Sinn Féin, now the second biggest party in the Dáil with 37 seats, pledged to complete the largest public housing building programme in the history of the State if it got into government. And to freeze rents for three years.
Of the 21,241 homes completed last year, the CIF says that official figures show 5,068 were one-off houses, which are mainly built by their owners and not offered for sale. Most of these would be built in rural areas.
New housing estates accounted for 12,529 of the total. By the end of September last year, the State had acquired 4,392 of these for social housing.
Local authorities and approved housing bodies received 2,229 through Part V, a planning law requiring developers to hand over a portion of all new schemes so they can be used for social housing.
The State bought or leased a further 2,163 new dwellings to use them for the same purpose.
Offered for sale
James Benson, the federation’s director of housing and planning, calculated that once the figures for the final three months of 2019 are included, they will show that just 8,000 to 8,500 of the total built last year were offered for sale on the open market.
He noted that this meant that the private sector rather than the State provided the lion’s share of social homes last year.
The federation says that the €386,000 average cost of a home in Dublin is now beyond most would-be first-time buyers. It argues that a young couple with a combined income of €94,000 would still be unable to get a mortgage that would allow them to buy a home at that price.
Meanwhile, institutional buyers mopped up most of the apartment blocks built in the Republic in 2019. German investor Realis bought 90 apartments in listed builder Glenveagh Properties’ Herbert Hill development in Dundrum last November for €55 million.
Realis intends leasing the properties to Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council for social housing at prices up to €3,000 a month for units.
The same fund agreed to buy 56 apartments from developer Marlet Property Group in the capital’s docklands. Elsewhere, local landlord Urbeo agreed to buy 150 properties in Maynooth, Co Kildare, from Cairn Homes.