CSO develops new measure of housebuilding activity

Agency to launch new housing series next week amid controversy with official figures

The overhang of so-called ghost estates from the boom has muddied the picture, with many units built previously coming back into stock, effectively exaggerating the true level of supply.   Photograph: Eric Luke

The overhang of so-called ghost estates from the boom has muddied the picture, with many units built previously coming back into stock, effectively exaggerating the true level of supply. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has developed a new measure of housebuilding activity on foot of the controversy surrounding the Government’s figures.

The agency’s “New Dwelling Completions” series, which will be launched next week, aims to give an accurate picture of the number of new homes being built in the State.

The series, which will be produced on a quarterly basis and date back to 2011, will utilise the Department of Housing’s official numbers, which are based on electricity connections.

However, it will adjust these figures with stamp duty and Building Energy Ratings (BER) data along with information from the latest population census and the GeoDirectory property database.

Proxy

Up to now, the Department of Housing has used ESB metering data as a proxy to count new homes, the logic being that developers will not bring a house to market until it is connected to the grid.

However, the overhang of so-called ghost estates from the boom has muddied the picture with many units built previously coming back into stock, effectively exaggerating the true level of supply.

At the height of the controversy last year, the Department of Housing set up an internal working group to examine better ways of collating data on housing. The CSO now appears to have taken up the mantle of producing more accurate numbers on foot of recommendations from the group.

Gauge

In the absence of a reliable gauge on housing supply, Goodbody Stockbrokers now counts BER certificates, which are compulsory for all new homes, including previously unoccupied new-builds.

The brokergage’s latest report indicates that a total of 3,223 new housing units were completed in the first four months of 2018. At the same time the Central Bank is forecasting that up to 23,500 units will be delivered this year.

If the Goodbody number is correct, more than 20,000 units will have to be delivered in the final eight months of 2018 for the Central Bank’s forecast to materialise.

Experts, meanwhile, estimate the level of demand in the market could be as high as 35,000.