Astoundingly, enumerators undertaking the latest census have stumbled across 275,000 vacant homes.
The Irish Independent (19.6.06) reported that 300,000 homes across the country will not be included in the latest census because there was no one at home to accept the census form.
‘Following inquiries among neighbours, postmen and women and apartment block management companies, the vast majority of those dwellings - some 275,000 - were identified as being vacant.’
The government uses the data collected in the Census to inform policy decisions, such as infrastructure development, education and health care provision, strategic and local land use policy, even constituency boundaries. The census asks questions regarding the composition of housing accommodation; number of bedrooms, type of utilities, floor space etc. It seems that following the completion of the census we will have very sketchy or no information on 15% of the housing stock, (that 15% is sufficient to house 800,000 people based on the average household size by the way). So the census of 2006 will be unsound, more a sample than a census.
But a much more disturbing aspect of the discovery of these tens of thousands of ‘ghost homes’, is the revelation that we have more homes than we need. The housing vacancy rate in the UK is about 3% and falling while In Ireland it is 15% and probably rising (given that we will churn out an additional 90,000 units this year). It matters not one jot, incidentally, how many of these properties are available and on the market to buy or let. The fact is that they are there and can arrive on the market at any time.
More proof, if proof were needed, that our country is in the grip of a speculative asset bubble, that is now approaching Tulipmania magnitude.