Baby I’ve been here before, I know this room and I walked this floor…

The Irish Examiner reports today claims made by Marian Finnegan of property auctioneer Sherry Fitzgerald, who suggests that “The latest census figures show that Ireland’s population has risen to 4.58 million and it is expected to increase to 5.1 million people by 2026,”, and therefore Ireland will need 30,000 new homes per year.  This story seems familiar.  The narrative goes something like this:  Ireland had a property boom. It went bust. However, the extent of this bust has been greatly exaggerated.  Ireland still has a growing population.  This new population will need new houses. The current stock of empty properties will not be sufficient.  If we do not build now we will be in trouble later. This ‘property resurrection’ genre is being pumped out every couple months, the basic storyline being augmented by this or that piece of data.  But with much of genre fiction the plot is wafer thin.  In this instance, two glaring plot holes are; Firstly, given that the majority of the population increases cited by Finnegan are new births (363,500 over the period 2006-2011 according to the CSO), and there generally isn’t a huge demand for houses amongst toddlers, it will probably be some time before this rise in population is felt in terms of the property market. Secondly, with a national unemployment rate of around 14.5% and a string of banks up to their necks in debt who have done a u-turn in their lending practices, who will be in a position to buy these houses? This particular genre is sounding a bit desperate. I think we need some new kinds of stories.

Cian O’Callaghan

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