Newstalk
Newstalk

08.51 11 Apr 2018


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Updated 09:30

The Government is facing fresh calls to start actively building houses in an effort to tackle the ongoing housing crisis.

It comes as hopeful home buyers started queuing for the chance to purchase in a new Dublin 15 housing development in Dublin – five days before the properties go on sale.

The queues for one of 24 new homes in Hansfield Dublin 15 started building yesterday. 

Failure to build

Meanwhile, housing expert Lorcan Sirr has warned that we are only building half the number of homes the Government says we are.

The DIT housing lecturer said we are seeing these kinds of queues because there are “so few housing developments coming on.”

He said last year, “we built between 9,000 and 10,000 houses – not 19,000 houses as you will hear politicians say.”

He said the problem is magnified by the fact that “trading in land is much more profitable and less risky than building houses.”

He warned that things may not be about to change anytime soon:

“Maybe this is it,” he said.

“Maybe this is the housing supply that we are going to have every year from now on.

“Because remember, if you own an awful lot of land, you can turn on the tap and turn off the tap to suit yourself and drip-feed the market with housing to keep the prices where you need them to be.

“So maybe 10,000 houses a year is where we are at.

“In which case, it means that we have a huge gap in the middle for people who want to buy a house between €200,000 and €400,000.”

He said vacant site taxes have proven ineffective at dealing with land hoarding.

"We have a site value tax at 3% this year and 7% next year - when land is gong up by 15% every year it doesn't really matter."

"The State itself has enough land.

"It is not just a Dublin issue , I recognise that but the four local authorities in Dublin have enough land between them to solve the [...] homeless crisis.

"They have land for about 28,000 houses.

"We have bucket loads of land around the place, we don't need to rely on these guys but the model that we have is to wait for the private sector to deliver housing.

"We can deliver housing ourselves like we used to do for decades - and did very well."

Economic threat 

It comes as a new report warns that the housing crisis is now the biggest threat facing the Irish economy.

The latest outlook from Friends First predicts that average house prices will continue to rise by at least 10% percent in 2019.

The author of the report, economist Jim Power is pointing the finger of blame directly at the government.

“This could have been foreseen in the sense that; in a country that is still experiencing rapid population growth, it is inevitable that if you stop building houses and if you destroy the construction capability of the economy – well then you are going to end up in this situation,” he said.

Lack of supply

Labour spokesperson Cllr Andrew Montague says the Hansfield queues are a symptom of the housing market in its current state.

“Property dealers need to sit down and the Government and the Department of Housing need to work out some ways of dealing with it,” he said.

“But really, the fundamental problem is the lack of supply.

“People wouldn’t be queuing up for days at a time if there were enough houses to go around.

“We think that the Government needs to start building houses itself and not just wait for the private sector to step in.”

Sign of the times

PJ Delaney, the owner of the local newsagents in nearby Ongar, told Newstalk that it is a sign of the times.

“I think it is sad really that people are in such desperate [need] for somewhere,” he said.

“But unfortunately that is the times we live in now and there is a lack of so many developments at the moment that for people this is what they have to do in order to get a roof over their head.”

Celtic Tiger queues

Yesterday afternoon, estate agents Kelly Walsh arrived at the Hansfield development and handed out tickets to potential buyers in the queue.

Cllr Montague said a fairer system for home buying needs to be put in place until the crisis in supply can be addressed, noting that any new system must be, “to people and not leave them in such an awful situation where they are queuing for days and maybe not even get anything out of it.”

“I think we need to leave that part of the Celtic Tiger behind us and use some fair way of letting people queue for these houses,” he said.

“But really that is only a short term solution – the long term solution is to have more houses.”


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