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43 years to fill empty houses

It will take 43 years to fill all the post-boom vacant homes in the Republic, according to a report. And this despite the fact that Ireland is maintaining a high birth rate by European Union standards.

The Sunday Independent reported that Deutsche Bank findings suggest that there are 289,451 empty houses in Ireland, including almost 60,000 vacant holiday homes. This represents a vacancy rate of 15 percent. The empty properties are highly concentrated around the Atlantic coast with Kerry and Donegal particularly badly afflicted.

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This glut of empty homes will have a major impact on future property prices, the report concluded.

"Demand for housing is the key factor as to how long it will take for this oversupply to be reduced, and aside from demand for second homes the key driver should be population growth," the Deutsche Bank report noted.

Based on 2011 figures, which showed population growth of just 13,000, and the average number of residents per house, the bank estimates that it could take until 2055 for the glut of houses to be worked through.

The report asserts that if current population trends are sustained, housing oversupply will take 43 years to clear. But if holiday dwellings are included in calculations, the oversupply will take 57 years to clear.

"Barring a sudden and sizeable recovery in Irish net migration (people coming into the country as opposed to leaving it), or a politically controversial policy of demolishing large volumes of excess housing stock, housing oversupply will remain a feature for many years, possibly decades, to come," the report contends.

"This has ramifications for any bank with development loan exposure, and also for the mortgage market, where prices have continued to fall and oversupply makes any reverse of this trend unlikely in the near term. Over 200,000 houses would need to be demolished in order for the housing supply to fall to three years of current population growth."

With regard to population growth, another recent report revealed that more children were born in the Republic in 2009 than in any one of the previous 118 years. There were 75,554 births in Ireland in '09, the highest number recorded since 1891, when 76,877 children were born.

The figures, from the government's Central Statistics Office, revealed that 2009 was the fourth year in a row of birth-rate rises.

The CSO's "Report on Vital Statistics" also found that Ireland had the highest fertility rate of the 27 European Union states in that year: 2.1 children per woman compared with the lowest, Latvia, at 1.31 children per woman.

"The total period fertility rate, or the average number of children per woman, was 2.10 in 2009, the same rate as in 2008. This is the fertility rate that must be maintained to replace the population in the absence of (inward) migration," the report stated.