Following on from our Census mapping work from last week, we thought it would be interesting to overlay the 2,876 unfinished estates identified by the Dept of Environment through their housing development survey over the vacancy rates at Small Area level calculated from Census 2011.  Both sets of data were generated at roughly the same time (April/May 2011).  We have created a new interactive mapping tool available on the AIRO website – Vacant Ireland.

To interact with the data use the zoom tools and click on either the area or the estate to see more information about both.

There are 2,876 unfinished estates in the country and 2,791 Small Areas with vacancy rates over 25%.  It might seem logical to conclude that there would be a high correlation between the two.  What is striking from the map, however, is whilst there is some alignment, the vast bulk of the 2,791 Small Areas with greater than 25% vacancy do not contain an unfinished estate and many Small Areas that contain estates do not have high vacancy.  This is as true for the cities and towns as it is for rural areas.

In other words, housing vacancy in Ireland is only partially explained by unfinished estates.  Indeed, the DECLG housing survey revealed that there were only 18,638 complete but vacant units on unfinished estates (8.1% of the total amount of vacant stock nationally and 15.6% of oversupply).

Nor does holiday homes account for the bulk of vacancy.  There were 59,395 holiday homes in the state in April 2011 out of a vacant stock of 289,451.  The holiday home data has not as yet been supplied at the Small Area level by the CSO, only at the county level.  It is likely that the vacancy rate in many Small Areas, particularly the coastal fringes in Donegal, Galway, Clare, Kerry, Cork and Wexford, will drop significantly when holiday homes are accounted for.  This is not the case for most other areas, where the holiday home rate is low to very low.

So accounting for unfinished estates and holiday homes, what constitutes the other 211,418 vacant houses and what do they mean for the housing market?  We’ll try to answer those questions tomorrow, in meantime have a play with the data in the mapping module and formulate your own hypotheses.

Justin Gleeson and Rob Kitchin