Wednesday, 25 February 2004

Questions (156)

Richard Bruton

Question:

243 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on proposals that would restrict the right of persons selling houses to increase the price to prospective purchasers without cost justification; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6288/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government)

Regulatory control of house prices would not be an appropriate policy instrument in the current housing market. Such regulation was discontinued after some years in the early 1980s and it is not proposed to reintroduce it.

This matter was also assessed in the consultancy report, An Economic Assessment of Recent House Price Developments (1999), published by my Department, which considered the question of administrative price control of new houses but concluded that this kind of intervention could be ineffective and would result in distortions to the market, to the detriment of house buyers.

The Government's preferred policy is to increase the supply of houses to meet increasing demand and to improve affordability, particularly for first-time buyers, and in this way seek to bring moderation to house price increases. The measures introduced by this Government to boost supply, such as significant investment in infrastructure, removing planning constraints and promoting the increased residential densities are having effect, with house building in Ireland now advancing at the fastest rate in Europe. The year 2003 is the ninth successive year of record housing output with house completions up 19.3% on 2002 and a total 68,819 units built. House completions in 2003 are also up 14% in Dublin and 10.5% in the greater Dublin area on 2002 levels.