THE NUMBER of houses being built across the State has hit a new low with construction starting on two-thirds fewer houses in the first nine months of this year than in the same period last year, according to the Department of the Environment.
The latest figures from the department show further declines in house prices nationally, but more particularly in Dublin, and a fall of more than 20 per cent in the number of home loans being approved by banks.
The fall-off in residential building is most noticeable in Dublin, where construction began on 5,079 houses and apartments in the first nine months of this year, a reduction of just under 50 per cent on the same period last year.
However the rate of decline, while smaller in numbers, is actually greater in parts of rural Ireland, with Roscommon experiencing an 80 per cent decline in new house registrations with just 68 houses built to the end of September this year.
House prices, figures for which are given for the first six months of the year, are also continuing to slide. The average price of a new house, according to the department, stood at €313,678 at the end of June last, a fall of 5.5 per cent on the same period last year.
Second-hand house prices had taken an even greater fall with houses costing €356,638, a 7.8 per cent drop on the first six months of 2007. However, the biggest falls were in Dublin.
The price of a new house in the capital was €390,544 at the end of June this year, a fall of 8.5 per cent. The drop in price in second-hand houses was greater still with a reduction of 10.3 per cent on the first six months of 2007, bringing prices at the end of June to €455,142.
Fewer mortgages are being approved. Lenders gave out 19,823 loans nationally, a drop of 21.4 per cent. The fall in house prices means that the value of these loans is lower with €5,529.5 million worth of loans approved, down 18.6 per cent on the first six months of 2007.
The number of houses ready for sale has declined, although not yet as dramatically as the numbers starting construction. House completions nationally were down just under 30 per cent on the first nine months of the year to 39,986.
However, more dramatic falls were found in the Co Dublin local authority areas of Fingal, where completions were down 60 per cent, and south Dublin, where the number of finished houses was 45 per cent lower than the first nine months of last year.
The Irish Times