UCD/DIT report: Overbuilding, empties and NAMA

Nowadays (it wasn’t like this prior to about 1995), it’s mainly dual-income couples who buy houses and singles who buy apartments. It’s one of the ironies of female emancipation and their entry en masse into the workforce over the last twenty years, that they now get to work their asses off just as hard as their menfolk, farm their children out to childcarers, just to compete with the next couple so as to bid up the price of their cherished 3-bed semi.

The price of freedom, I suppose.

The politics of this are interesting, if UCD let this out into the public domain; Who agreed it ? , knowing it will be used as a plank for whatever story a VI wants to build on it ?

Spin Spin Spin. Also why now ? When was the work done ? cui bono etc


I calculated and recalculated and published my methodolog(ies) and supporting links on the Pin and that was WELL over two years ago…probably nearer 3.

I was then asked to revisit and recalculate and republish my methodology again. I did that for OW in late 2008 and again I informed OW and the other participants of the methodology and how to check my figures. A short summary of the results of that revisitation is available HERE dated October 2008. That exercise was done privately not in a public thread on the pin by the way and Yogan published the 2 primary calculation methods that arrived at the same net result a few posts back.

Then the geography departments in Maynooth and latterly UCD show some interest and throw their greater resources at the same exercise. Much to my surprise :smiley: …having done the original research… they confirmed my figures.

Other than Geodirectory ( to which I do not /did not have access) they had access to all the same data sources as I and I always LINKED the data sources PRECISELY so that others could check the figures out.

Quoting from that link

Update : Report just came out, can be found


grab your copy now before the revisionism starts.

update 2 : I’ve just flicked through this; is there a lurker here who wrote this or what ? A lot of very familiar sentiments. Although they are also plain truths, so may not be cogged ]

And today UCD says

Table 9 – Supply Excess
Gross vacant stock 345,116
Holiday homes 64,520
Net vacant stock 280,596
Allow 5% Standard Vacancy Rate 98,980
Allow 0.5% Obsolescence rate 9,898
Excess surplus 171,718

Here is my August 2007 Estimate , it was not as rigorous as the October 2008 one because that also used Household sizes and household size shrinkage to 2.7 persons per from 2.8 at census time and the then latest population estimate from the CSO


UCD and maynooth are open to accusation of plagiarism.

no question they should have cited 2pack in their publications.

Presumably they would sniffily respond that they only cite peer-reviewed publications. :laughing:

UCD did the recalculation exercise on average household sizes too. It is in their Table 8 and they estimated average household size at 2.73 in April 2009. We cannot assume that household sizes are the same as they were in April 2006 ( census time) because of a long term decline of about .1 person per household every 2-3 years.

Oh lookee , here is the PIN doing the EXACT same exercise in February 2008 in full public view and with a variety of views on the matter!!!


Taking the statistics on face value (but as has already been pointed out they do seem to tie in with earlier findings both posted here and elsewhere) here is a little statistical point;

At 345,000 empties, it would be possible to give 1 of those residential unit to each and every individual in the State aged between 20 and 24 and then still have over 40,000 units idle (the CSO population estimate for that cohort is 304,800 in 2009).

(Of course, there would then be a knock on into rented units and people moving out into their new “free” home, not to mention the impact on the FTB market, but it’s just a statistical comparison).

Blue Horseshoe

The “Urban Institute Ireland Working Paper Series” looks like an in-house series so it’s unlikely that UCD report itself was peer-reviewed prior to publication.

It’s now being thoroughly reviewed here on the 'pin, so better late than never!

The one important thread of analysis in this report, which I don’t remember reading much about here, is the focus on regional differences in vacancies, especially the reasons why we are seeing areas like South Dublin holding up well recently while most of the rest of the country languishes.

Not only are the level of empties vastly lower in areas like South Dublin, but, if the pattern of “What’s it worth” queries on this site are anything to go by, the demand to live in areas such as SCD remains enormous. No wonder they include dumb and simple supply/demand curves in their opening pages.

Even the ROS (rest of state) estimates of vacancy rates in the report are understated, given that they include smaller versions of SCD such as areas in Cork and Galway, so if such pockets were excluded, the ROS levels would easily surpass three times the SCD levels.

Is it any surprise that the only reports we receive here about property recovery refer to SCD, and parts of Cork and Galway?

And I can’t resist observing that if you drew a circle with UCD at the center and DIT on the perimeter, you would effectively cover the areas of lowest vacancy in the state.

The report also makes the interesting observation that, while demand has always been strongest in places like SCD, state policy has always been to respond to that demand by building houses elsewhere, i.e., where people don’t really want to live.


Was looking at SCD too and using their methodology the excess overhang there is only 3,183 (and that assumes no holiday homes as I can’t imagine too many of them there). Not much for a population of 250,000.
Based on the average 2.83 people per household in that area, a population increase of less than 9,000 (3.6%) would take care of that. As you say, given the number of “what’s it worth?” questions on here that’s not a huge ask

Yeah, SCD is going to be hit by over-indebtedness rather than over-supply. The frantic leg action is to keep that particular duck in motion…

I would not be too sure about that :smiley:

**From The PIN . April 2008

Then a few posts later.

You know this has moved into the most emailed section on Irish Times website but not the most read. Yet. :angry:

2Pack, awesome job. Really, really impressive and I find it 100% impossible to believe that the folks from UCD, DIT and Maynooth were unaware of what the Pin (i.e. you) have been saying on this for years. Bravo.

CIF get in on the act - RTE link


As regards consumer indebtedness, spot on, I’d say. As regards developer indebtedness, i.e., NAMA, it’s the other way round. Since government policy encouraged residential building in places people didn’t want to live, the bulk of residential assets in NAMA will reflect developments where there will naturally be sub-normal demand for those assets. To some extent, especially in regard to land valuations, this pattern will also be reflected in NAMA’s commercial asset holdings, I think.