I find it difficult to even comprehend the scale of the property bubble in Ireland. For the sake of putting it somewhere, here is one way I try to think about it. This is not an original way, but the numbers are appropriately shocking.
On page 43 of the Annual Housing Statistics Bulletin published by the Irish Department for Environment, Heritage and Local Government, we find listed the completion rates for new houses from 2004 to 2008. With some basic sums we find that over five year period, Ireland built, on average, 76,216 new houses.
In Live Table 209 (Permanent dwellings completed, by tenure and country), published by the British Department for Communities and Local Government we find that in the same period in England, on average there were 159,714 new builds, annually.
So in the period when the bubble really grew, Ireland built almost half as many houses as England (47.7%).
But Ireland’s population is about 4.5 million and England’s is about 63 million. 4.5 is not 47% of 63.
England’s economy was also growing at this time. England’s property market was also over-heated at this time. And yet proportionately, Ireland was building 7 times more houses than their close neighbour.
That, my friends, is a world-beating property boom.
Your Correspondent, He lived in a house, a very big house in the country