Market Overview

Cairn is a business positioned to serve an under-supplied market, delivering quality, A-rated new homes at scale from the best sites in the best locations.

Uniquely positioned
for growth

We are uniquely positioned to leverage the opportunities in the Irish new homes market, which continues to be characterised by significant undersupply and increasing mortgage-backed demand. Our operating model is fit for purpose, our talented team have the skills and capabilities to deliver quality homes at scale, all of which is fully aligned to our growth agenda.

Uniquely positioned<br /><span>for growth</span>

Market Opportunity

Ireland’s housing crisis persisted in 2020 with new homes completions at less than 65% of our estimated 34,000 new homes annual demand. Fundamentally, this level of demand is set to continue as our population, the youngest in Europe, reached 5 million during 2020 and is forecast to increase to 5.6 million by 2040.

While supply remained challenged, household savings reached a record high in 2020, creating more realisable, mortgage-backed demand for new homes. Following a general election dominated by the housing crisis, the Irish Government is now focused on delivering new homes, particularly social and affordable housing, and new initiatives have been announced which will encourage supply across all housing tenures. The multifamily sector demonstrated continued strength in 2020 with the Irish market continuing to offer favourable yields, steady, stable rental streams and strong occupancy levels for institutional investors seeking long-term exposure to the Irish residential market. Against this backdrop, Cairn remains ideally positioned for significant growth over the coming years.

Market Opportunity

Resilient Economy

Ireland’s 2020 economic performance was robust with GDP growth of 3.4%, outperforming the EU 27 average of -6.4%. Ireland benefits from a strong and established footprint in the ICT and pharmaceutical sectors, which continued to grow during the pandemic. Exchequer returns were equally strong in the period, down 3.6%, with income tax revenues in particular proving remarkably robust.

Resilient Economy

Demand drivers
Demand drivers

The housing market in Ireland has been chronically undersupplied for the past decade with strong demand reinforced by a number of factors.


and forecast to increase to 5.6m by 2040.


compared to 2.3 EU average.


in the year to April 2020.


births per 1,000 of population with population growth at 3x EU average.


and home ownership in Ireland has fallen to 68%, below the EU average of 69.8%.


Government support for housing


Ireland’s new Government is focused on addressing the housing crisis with an emphasis on new builds and to “put affordability at the heart of the housing system"

  • The Government’s stated goal is to provide 50,000 additional social homes over the next 5 years;
  • A target for the delivery of affordable homes will be set during 2021;
  • Record €5.2bn Department of Housing budget for 2021 (+ 16%); and focus on increasing home ownership rates.

Affordable housing is not currently available to a large segment of the Irish population: there are over 575,000 people in Ireland in households with incomes between €50,000 and €80,000 who cannot access social housing. This cohort of our population has limited access to mortgages and are the ‘squeezed middle’ stuck in the rental trap.






EU average mortgage interest rate on new mortgages is 1.29%.


more expensive (€927) to rent than own a Cairn starter home in Dublin.


growth in 2020 to over 250,000 people employed.


value in 2020. Q4 approvals +31% year on year.

Owning Vs Renting

Cairn 3 Bed Starter Home Private Sales in 2020

Average selling price (including VAT) in 2020 across Cairn developments in Dublin:

  • Shackleton Park & Gandon Park (Lucan);
  • Graydon (Newcastle);
  • Edenbrook (Citywest); and
  • Parkside (Malahide Road).



FTB Monthly Mortgage Cost Monthly Rental Cost
Purchase price




Mortgage – 90% LTV




Mortgage interest rate




Purchase price


Malahide Road


Monthly Mortgage Repayment (30 year C&I)





The Multifamily Market

Cairn Positioned for Significant Growth

With our exceptional landbank, scale and an operating platform which we invested heavily in during 2020, we will continue to bring competitively priced new homes to a market characterised by increased mortgage backed private demand, more encouraging Government initiatives and strong institutional investor demand.

Demand continues to be supported by strong demographics, the cost of renting remains significantly more expensive than owning and the broader industry continues to face considerable constraints.

Cairn remains uniquely positioned to deliver on our growth agenda by supplying high quality, A-rated energy efficient new homes to the market and building on our reputation for creating sustainable communities for the future.

Cairn Positioned for Significant Growth

The Multifamily Market
The Multifamily Market

With our significant investment in WIP and using our balance sheet to fund multifamily developments, Cairn is uniquely placed to offer product to the market during 2021 which is nearing completion and available to rent in the short-term.


of all real estate investment (2019: 33%).


prime residential yields in 2020 with rental inflation +0.9%.


mid-market multifamily occupancy rates.


births per 1,000 of population with population growth at 3x EU average.


apartment units in our landbank at an average site cost of €63k.

Sold Out

the majority of multifamily schemes under construction are largely sold out.


Supply Challenge for 2021

New homes completions declined just 2% in 2020, with Q4 completions (7,400 equating to 35% of 2020 supply) up 15.9% year on year. However, commencements of multi-unit developments, which is the lead indicator for future supply, fell 18.3% (and by 25.2% in the May-December period) as the broader sector focused on completing existing developments (source all: CSO). Supply challenges are likely to continue into 2021. Cairn’s commencements grew 10% in 2020.

Supply Challenge for 2021

Better ways to build

Find more detail on the Irish Housing Market in our 2020 Annual Report

View and Download

Better ways <span>to build</span>