As far as residential densities are concerned, as prices have fallen across the board for houses and apartments for sale, the buyers that remain in the market are looking to get more for less; more bedrooms, more space - in essence, lower densities than would have prevailed during the boom years. Additionally, developers are not willing to take the risk associated with building high-density developments; higher density means more units to sell and also requires a longer turnaround than individual homes. In 2007, a suburban town in the greater Dublin area would have seen planning for a density of upwards of 25 residential units an acre (higher density was seen as a solution to a perceived housing shortage). In the current market a density of 8 to 12 units per acre is more realistic. The lack of funding to facilitate transactions exerts further downward pressure on prices.
We can get a sense of the changes in land values by using some simple arithmetic. For example: where before a developer may have been able to expect to sell 25 units at an average of €370,000 each, a total of €9.25 million in revenue per acre, now the same developer would be able to only expect to build around 12 units per acre at an average of €195,000, total revenue of €2.34 million. Just based on these average asking prices from Daft and falling densities, we're looking at a drop in revenue per acre of 75%. Not only does this figure ignore VAT, building costs and a margin allowing for developer profit and risk, it is based on Daft asking prices and not the final sale price of the house or apartment. If buyers are still negotiating sellers down from asking prices, then the decline in land values is even more staggering. So, although house prices have fallen by 40% from peak according to the Daft Report and commercial property prices in Ireland have declined by up to 60% in the most recent cycle, the knock-on impact for land values is even more pronounced.
As previous Daft Report guest bloggers and we at CB Richard Ellis have frequently stated, a national house price database is essential at this stage. So too is a true accounting of the number of vacant residential units in the country, which we are set to receive from the Department of the Environment in the coming weeks. With this information, not only could we engage in more robust analysis of the residential property market, but we could also assess the impact that house price movements are actually having on land values.