The Minister for Housing and Planning at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, Willie Penrose today unveiled the results of an updated survey of so-called ghost estates – new estates constructed during Ireland’s housing boom which were left incomplete when the housing bubble burst and bank lending for property stalled. The report will be available tomorrow from the Department’s website, but in the meantime, the Department has kindly provided a copy of its spreadsheet which shows the address of every ghost estate and its state of completion, and level of vacancy. I have uploaded the spreadsheet to Google docs and it is available here.
The good news is that Irelandnow has only 2,066 such estates which is considerably down from 2,846 estates identified in the survey published in June 2011. There has apparently been quite a lot of work with completing estates, dealing with sewage systems, lighting, access roads and amenity areas.
Surveys of the ghost estates were conducted up to the 27th of September, 2011 and I note that there is no entry for the estate at Ballynagore near Mullingar, Westmeath which the council bulldozed in August/September 2011 and which was reported on here with before and after photographs.
So here’s the latest position with respect to our ghost estates with previous figures from the June 2011 survey in brackets.
Ghost estates should not be confused with vacant housing. Remember there are just over 2m houses and apartments in the State, of which approximately 120,000 are on ghost estates. So 95% of all dwellings are NOT on ghost estates. In terms of vacant housing, according to the preliminary Census 2011 results issued in June 2011, there are 294,202 vacant dwellings in the State. We will find out in 2012 how many of these are holiday homes, but at this stage it still appears as if we have some 100,000 homes which represent an excess over the long term average vacant housing stock, and this represents the overhang of vacant property that will act as a drag on prices, until used up. There is presently little new construction of dwellings in the State, the latest from the Department of Finance is that for the first eight months of 2011, 7,002 dwellings were completed, where the term “completed” means being hooked up to the ESB (electricity utility company) – actual construction is anecdotally understood to be less. Given the trend in the reduction in household size, it is likely that 17,000 new dwellings are needed each year to cope with smaller households. Obsolescence is anecdotally at a very low level in the State, in part due to the fact that our housing stock is so new. Our population is still growing, apparently with natural growth rates more than offsetting estimated net emigration, but housing need for population growth is probably 5-10,000 homes per annum.
It’s likely that you’ll see some headlines over the next couple of days claiming there are just 18,000 vacant homes in the country, but that just confuses ghost estates with vacancy.
UPDATE: 17th October, 2011. The Department for the Environment, Community and Local Government has now published its reports online and they are all available here. The Department is no longer classifying estates as nearly complete, 90% complete or less than 90% complete. In short since the last survey, an additional 30 ghost estates have been identified, 701 have been completed, there are still 109 where no real work has been started which means that there are 2,066 incomplete estates.