Ireland, housing, mortgages, debt, housing finance, housing policy, European Central bank
Market oriented housing policies in Ireland have long promoted owner-occupation to meet the housing requirements of the growing industrialised and urbanized society. Thus, availability and access to housing finance has been a central issue for Irish housing, particularly in the past quarter century. Housing finance was critical to the growth of development and construction, expansion of credit, rising house prices, increased household formation, and more recently, a major financial crash and recession. Following liberalization of financial regulation from the late 1980s, lowering interest rates and access to international finance, mortgage credit rose dramatically between 2000 and 2007. This created the greatest housing bubble in the world, followed by the biggest collapse, not just in house prices of more than half, but also in Irish State finances. Today, there is a new housing finance regulatory landscape, instigated by the European Central Bank, albeit in a situation where all national lenders (except one) are nationalized. As new household formation grows among a relatively young population, there are tentative indications of greater demands for private and social rented housing.