State urged to borrow up to €7bn more a year for housing

New president of SCSI says drastic action needed to avoid ‘another decade of despair’

The new president of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) has called on the Government to follow through on the ESRI’s recommendation to borrow an additional €4 billion-€7 billion a year to invest in housing.

TJ Cronin, a Cork-based estate agent, told the SCSI’s recent agm that the supply situation had deteriorated dramatically due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and that extraordinary measures were now required to deal with the housing crisis.

"The SCSI has been calling for a major government-funded housebuilding programme involving both the private and public sectors for some time. Even at the pre-Covid rate of output of around 20,000 units, we forecast that supply and demand would not be in equilibrium until 2031. So unless drastic action is taken, tens of thousands of people hoping to buy an affordable home, will face another decade of despair," he said.

In its latest report on the residential property sector, the ESRI said the Government should consider doubling its current investment in housing, from €2 billion to €4 billion, which could deliver 18,000 units a year.

Mr Cronin said the SCSI would be ideally placed, as the independent voice of the property and construction sector, to make a real contribution to addressing the housing crisis.

He said the three areas that needed to be addressed as a matter of urgency were access to zoned and serviced development land, the supply of affordable and viable housing stock and the availability of competitively-priced mortgages for buyers and finance for builders.

“Estate agents all-round the country are seeing first-hand the effects of the chronic shortage of property. The current situation isn’t sustainable and if the ESRI believes the State can manage the extra borrowing, surely now is the time to act. What we need now is long-term strategic vision, not short-term reactionary measures,” he said.

Mr Cronin thanked his predecessor Micheál Mahon for leading the SCSI through what has been an extremely-challenging period and thanked him for agreeing to stay on as chair of the Construction Industry Council. He also thanked former president Johanna Gill who is stepping down from the board.

Mr Cronin who is residential manager at Irish & European, a Cork-city based estate agent, is also a registered valuer. Previously the chair of the southern region of the SCSI, the 45 -year-old has been an active member of the SCSI for 10 years. Prior to that he was a member of the Irish Auctioneers and Valuers Institute (Iavi) for nine years before it merged with the SCS to form the SCSI in 2011.