The Central Statistics Office (CSO) yesterday published Census 2016 which was prioritised due to the crucial nature of the information and how it could inform policy on the sector.
The key conclusion from the Census data is that while Ireland’s population has continued to increase, the housing stock has frozen since 2011, resulting in higher household sizes and a squeeze upwards in both prices and rents.
The data shows that the number of owner occupied households fell over the five year period to 2016 by 0.2%, while the numbers in rental accommodation rose by 4.7%. As a result, the homeownership rate fell from 69.7% to 67.6%. This is the lowest since at least 1971.
In urban areas, the rate is even lower at 59.2% (82.4% in rural areas). By age cohort, there is a higher percentage of renters than owners up to the age of 35. While this trend may partly due to changing tenure choice, it also reflects tight mortgage standards over the period, stock shortages and affordability issues in some cases.
The Census shows that while having grown by 245,464 (+13%) in the five years to Census 2011, the housing stock grew by just 8,800 units in the five years to Census 2016. Supposedly, there were 51,239 house completions over the same time period judging by the separate statistics on electricity connections.
While obsolescence will account for some of the difference in the two figures, this adds further evidence to the view that official house completions statistics have been overstating the scale of new supply. The number of occupied dwellings rose by 48,257, closely matching the fall in the number of vacant properties (-46,744).
According to Goodbody Stockbrokers, "With still a long way to go to resolve this imbalance, further price increases are likely from here. Irish policymakers will need to redouble their efforts to accelerate supply increases."