Housing crisis: Breakdown of counties with highest and lowest rate of vacant homes

A derelict house in Drogheda

Donal O'Donovan and Caroline O'Doherty

The number of vacant homes available for potential upgrade and refurbishment to boost housing supply is heavily skewed to the west coast and areas of lowest demand, according to a report from property data business GeoDirectory.

In its latest Residential Buildings Report, GeoDirectory recorded 83,662 residential properties as vacant in December 2022, resulting in an average national vacancy rate of 4pc.

Nationally, the number of vacant homes rose by 4.8pc last year.

However, a breakdown of the numbers shows the counties with the highest vacancy rates in the country were Leitrim (12.2pc) and Mayo (11.2pc), while the lowest vacancy rates were recorded in Dublin (1.2pc) and Kildare (1.3pc), and the other Dublin commuter counties.

That suggests that upgrading vacant houses will have only a limited impact on supply in the areas of greatest demand. However, the figures do not include vacant and derelict commercial property, such as old shops and pubs or former offices.

The study of residential property data, prepared in association with EY, found that in the 12 months to December 2022, 28,510 new residential address points were added to the GeoDirectory database, an increase of 58pc on the corresponding period in 2021.

Director of EY Economic Advisory Services, Annette Hughes, said the 2022 residential vacancy rate was the lowest recorded by GeoDirectory to date.

“However, this figure highlights a national imbalance of low vacancy rates and high demand in Dublin and surrounding counties, contrasted by considerably higher vacancy rates in the west of the country,” she said.

The report also highlights a growing affordability gap for rental properties in the country, with renters in our main cities paying well over 30pc of their gross income per month in rent,” she said.

That was based on average rent prices for new tenancies, as published by the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB).

The highest average rent price in the second quarter of last year was recorded in the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown region (€2,231), while the lowest average rent price could be found in Donegal (€783).

The report found the number of new homes under construction in December, (22,008), was 12.9pc higher than the same time a year previous, potentially indicating the anticipated drop in completions this year may not be as bad as feared. The biggest shares of those active building sites were in Dublin and Kildare.

It comes as a fresh push is on to encourage home-seekers to take on a vacant or derelict dwelling after refurbishment grants attracted 900 applicants in six months.

Grants of up to €30,000 are on offer for people bringing a vacant home back into use, and up to €50,000 where the property is derelict and in need of more extensive works.

Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien said 900 applications were received for the first round of grants which opened last August. He would not put a figure on the number of homes he believed could ultimately be brought back into use but said it was known that there were thousands of vacant dwellings.

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