Housing completions this year could top 22,000, according to an analysis by Banking and Payments Federation Ireland.

In its latest Housing Market Monitor, the BPFI cites statistics from the Central Statistics Office showing that just over 5,000 units were completed in the second three months of this year.

That brings to 8,955 the number of housing units completed in the first half of the year, which the Federation notes was around 10% higher than the number in the first six months of last year and only 1% less than the same period in 2019.

"If the sector continues to build at a rate similar to second half of 2020, it is likely that total completions in 2021 can reach 22,000 units," the report concludes.

20,676 units were completed last year compared to 21,087 finished in 2019, according to official figures from the CSO.

Construction activity was largely halted for two periods during the Covid-19 pandemic - the first in March of 2020 followed by a more lengthy shutdown of most commercially built housing projects in the opening months of this year.

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According to the Central Bank, around 34,000 units would need to be completed here every year for the foreseeable future in order to meet demand.

Some estimates put it at higher than that when population dynamics and falling household size are taken into account.

Apartments accounted for just over a fifth of the completions in the first half of the year with two thirds of those being built in the capital.

The BPFI analysis concludes that commencements - the process of starting to build housing units - could reach as high as 27,000 this year if the momentum from the first half of the year is carried through.

There were 15,530 units commenced in the first half of the year compared with 9,952 and 12,260 units in the same period in 2020 and 2019, respectively.

"That is likely to increase the number of completions significantly in 2022," the report estimates.

Dublin's share of total commencements declined from around 44% in 2015 to about 35% as of first half of 2021, the figures show.

"The shift in construction activity towards outside Dublin is also evident in the sale of new properties, where about 36% of market property transactions in the Dublin Commuter region during the first half of 2021 were for new properties, compared with around 25% in 2011," Dr Ali Ugur, Chief Economist with Banking & Payments Federation Ireland said.

Only 23% of transactions in Dublin and 19% in Cork were for new properties, he added.