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Number of apartments built last year jumps by 60% – CSO

The number of apartments built last year jumped by almost 60% compared to 2018, new figures from the Central Statistics Office show today.

The CSO said a total of 3,644 apartments were built last year, up 59.6% on the figure of 2,283 for 2018. 

When measured on a quarterly basis, the number of new apartments completed soared by over 72% in the fourth quarter of 2019 compared to the same three month period in 2018.

The number of new apartments rose from 726 in the same fourth quarter of 2018 to 1,250 in the fourth quarter of 2019 – an increase of 72.2%.

The CSO noted that over two-thirds (67.8%) of the new apartments completed in the last three months of 2019 were in Dublin. 

Overall, the CSO said a total of 6,450 new homes were completed in the fourth quarter of 2019 – a ten year high – and an increase of 18.5% on the 5,445 new homes in the fourth quarter of the previous year.

This brings the total number of new home completions for the whole of 2019 to 21,241, up 18.3% from 17,952 built in 2018.

Today’s figures show the number of scheme dwellings (a multi-unit development with two or more houses) rose from 3,364 to 3,811, an increase of 13.3%.

This takes the total scheme completions in 2019 to 12,529, a rise of 14.1% over the 10,985 scheme completions in 2018.

Meanwhile, single home builds grew by 2.5% between the fourth quarter of 2018 and the fourth quarter of 2019 – rising from 1,355 to 1,389. 

For the whole of last year, single completions moved 8.2% higher, from 4,684 to 5,068.

Today’s CSO figures also reveal that the average size of a new home fell by 6.1% in 2019 due to the increase in the proportion of completed homes being apartments and a decrease in the size of single and scheme houses. 

They also show that the number of previously finished dwellings in unfinished housing developments dropped by almost 38% from 306 in the fourth quarter of 2018 to 190 in the last quarter of 2019.

Commenting on the figures, Goodbody chief economist Dermot O’Leary said urban sprawl continued unabated towards the end of 2019, with completions in the Mid-East – Dublin’s commuter counties – growing by 24% in the fourth quarter to 1,554 units. 

This compares to the modest 3% uptick in Dublin in last three months of 2019, he added. 

Mr O’Leary said that despite the 60% surge in the number of apartments completed, they continue to represent the lowest percentage of new build in the EU.

He said the 3,644 apartments built last year represents just 17% of completions in 2019, relative to an EU average of 59%. 

He noted that of these units, the majority – 80% – are purchased by Private Rental Sector (PRS) investors. 

“There is also a significant amount of apartments in the planning and development process that will depend on the ongoing buoyancy of the PRS sector. This would be put under threat if some of the policy proposals of Sinn Féin were to be implemented if they were to find their way into power,” the economist added. 

The main source used for today’s CSO figures is the ESB domestic connections data, where the date that the connection is energised determines the date of completion. 

But the CSO said it is accepted that the ESB domestic connections data overestimate new homes and it has adjusted for this by using additional information from the ESB and other data sources. 

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