Increasing the supply of new homes is a central goal of the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan, not least because such increases will help to moderate price movements. Lead indicators for housing supply, such as planning permission and construction commencement activity, provide a strong basis for confidence that the number of new home completions will continue to increase.
Aside from encouraging greater supply, my Department has deployed a range of measures to help address affordability. The Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan is a targeted support to help first time buyers to attain homeownership. Total funding available for the loan is over €563m for 2018 and 2019 combined. This measure complements the Help to Buy scheme, which helps first time buyers saving for a deposit. The designation of Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs), helps to constrain price inflation in many residential rental markets. There are now 44 RPZs across Ireland, covering 68% of all registered tenancies. Other supports, such as the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF) and the Serviced Sites Fund (SSF), will support the provision of new affordable homes for purchase and rent.
My Department, working with the Economic and Social Research Institute, operates a housing economics research programme which examines the various dynamics of housing and rental markets. Recent research under this programme in relation to affordability was published in the Spring 2019 edition of the Economic and Social Review.
A further paper examining affordability for prospective first-time buyers from a regional perspective is currently being finalised and will be published in due course.