Almost 350,000 houses and apartments in Ireland are currently vacant, according to new research from University College Dublin. The figure represents 17 per cent of total housing stock in the country. Outside the greater Dublin area more than 1 in 5 houses are empty.

The report opens with shots of houses under construction, new houses and houses for rent.

Reporter Sharon Tobin, "At the height of the boom we couldn't build fast enough, 90,000 homes went up in one year. Today almost four times that number are lying vacant according to researchers at University College Dublin. Minus holiday homes, empty rentals and derelict houses there are still 170,000 empty units."

Brendan Williams of UCD says, you could say that eventually over time some surplus will be soaked up by the market. But away from urban centres it is difficult to know what the use will be for these properties.

Sharon Tobin, "For anyone hoping to buy or sell the road ahead still seems uncertain. According to UCD's researchers there is a plethora of housing out there on the market and they say vendors are still not willing to drop their prices. But further price falls now seem inevitable."

Hubert Fitzpatrick of the Construction Industry Federation exiting a building.

Reporter Sharon Tobin, "A few years ago the construction industry branded reports of a housing market crash sensationalist and inaccurate. Today the Construction Industry Federation denied the problem was caused by developers who didn't want to get off the merry go round."

Hubert Fitzpatrick, "We acknowledged at the time that 80-90,000 houses on an annual basis was not sustainable and we always articulated that if you ended up back building 50,000 houses at the growth rates applicable at that time that was a more sustainable figure." 

Sharon Tobin asks, "So developers did mess up then they built far too many houses?"

Hubert Fitzpatrick, "No developers built to the demand that existed at the time."

Aerial views of housing estates some still under construction. Sharon Tobin,"There are plans to use surplus housing to ease the social housing list but the minister in charge admits he won't be able to use them all."

Michael Finneran, Minister for Housing, "There maybe some partially built houses that may need to be knocked at some stage. But certainly not the new houses that are built they are a national infrastructure. I have a programme to bring many of those into use at this particular time."

The report finishes showing houses under construction. Reporter Sharon Tobin,"What will happen to the rest is anyone's guess."