The price of the average three-bed semi in Galway city rose by 2.9 per cent in the first three months of 2018, according to the latest national survey carried out by Real Estate Alliance.
The average semi-detached house nationally now costs €229,111, the Q1 REA Average House Price Survey has found – a rise of 1.5 per cent on the Q4 2017 figure of €225,806. Overall, the average house price across the State increased by 9.1 per cent over the past 12 months. This has been taken as an indicator that the market is steadying after the 11.3 per cent overall rise in 2017.
The Republic’s major cities outside Dublin recorded a combined Q1 rise of 2.1 per cent, with an average three-bed semi costing €243,750. Galway, at 2.9 per cent, has a higher than the national average Q1 selling price, with the typical semi-detached house is now fetching €265,000.
“‘There is strong demand across Galway city,” said Robert McGreal of REA McGreal Burke. “Some new developments are coming on stream. Currently, there are 10 buyers for every home coming to the market. We are experiencing strong demand across the board, and homes are reaching sale agreed in just five weeks across the country – which is good news for both buyers and vendors."
However, Galway remains in a housing crisis with the situation in the social housing sector still critical. Some 5,000 households - an estimated total of 15,000 people - remain on Galway's housing waiting list, some of whom are waiting since 2002. No public housing has been built in Galway city since 2009, a situation which arose largely from a mixture of Government directives, delays, and lack of funding.
There is some positive news on both the social and private housing fronts as more than 220 units of social housing are due to be built in Galway city by 2019, with another 100 planned as part of the overall 1,000 private housing units proposed for Ardaun. Independent city councillor Declan McDonnell, the chair of the Galway City Council’s Strategic Policy Committee on Housing, said several social and private housing projects are "close to getting off the ground".
At the end of January, the Galway City Council was allocated €12.5 million to build 57 new homes in the east of the city - specifically four one-bedroom, 16 two-bedroom, 26 three-bedroom, and four four-bedroom houses off the Monivea Road, near Rocklands Avenue. This is expected to go to public consultation in September/October. The department has also approved seven two-bedroom homes at a site in Ballybrit, near Ballybrit Court.
More than 70 houses on another site off the old Monivea Road, are planned by the city council in a ‘turnkey’ contract with a developer. Work is proposed to being later this year with completion in 2019. A total of 81 houses on the Headford Road, and another 20 in Renmore, are being built by private developers. The voluntary housing agencies Cluid and Respond are in negotiations to take over on completion next year.
The long proposed and awaited Ardaun suburb, to be built on the eastern outskirts of the city, is expected to contain 1,000 houses, with 100 set aside for social housing. A planning application for the development is expected to be lodged in 2019.
Cllr McDonnell said City Hall must "make up its mind" on what it plans to do in relation to Ardaun, as the area will need community, recreational, and infrastructural facilites. He estimates some 4,000 houses will be built there by private developers, and that workers should be on site in two years’ time. "Once they do get on site, that is where the vast bulk of the supply of houses within the city will be built for years to come," he said.
Two thirds of the Ardaun area lies outside the city boundary, and according to Cllr McDonnell, City Hall is close to completing its Local Area Plan for its portion of Ardaun. However, he accused the Galway County Council of "dragging its heels", saying the local authority needed to "join the city in developing a proper infrastructure" for the area, or else, hand over its portion of the land to the city.
Cllr McDonnell said the houses coming on stream is also "good news" for "people accessing accommodation through the private market", as the "volume of accommodation becoming available" will "take down the spiral of rental costs".