The number of planning permissions granted for apartments last year jumped by almost 34% to the highest level since 2005, according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
Separate CSO figures showed that residential property prices rose at the start of this year, despite new COVID-19 restrictions, with the annual rate of growth accelerating to 2.6% in January.
SHD applications dominate
The CSO said planning permissions were granted for 26,224 apartments in 2020, but the figure for houses fell for the second year in a row — down almost 7% to 18,314.
This left total planning permissions for last year 8% lower at 25,597.
The CSO said more than three-quarters of the apartments granted planning permission last year were through Strategic Housing Development (SHD) applications.
Under this system, applications for developments of at least 100 residential units or 200-plus student bed spaces can be made directly to An Bord Pleanála.
Many developments have been subject to legal challenges, however.
Price growth accelerates
Meanwhile, the annual increase of 2.6% in home prices in January represented an acceleration from 2.2% in December, and was the biggest since May 2019, according to the CSO.
During January, prices of houses and apartments across the country increased by 0.5%, compared with 0.7% rises in the previous two months.
Prices outside Dublin continue to increase at a faster rate — an annual jump of 4%, compared with 1.1% in the capital.
Apartment prices are also rising more quickly than house prices, up 3% in Dublin and 7.5% outside the capital. This compares with increases of 0.6% and 3.8% respectively for houses in Dublin and elsewhere.
Despite the resilience in prices, the CSO figures show a drop in the volume of housing market activity in January compared with previous months, as new COVID-19 restrictions kicked in.
The number of transactions, just under 3,500, represented a 30% drop compared with December. The value of these deals also fell by one-third to €1.1 billion.