Among all the talk of falling house building rates, another threat to housing supply is rearing its head again - vacancies.
If current trends continue, sometime over the next year the total number of empty homes in the UK will pass the 1 million mark - the highest level for a decade.
If that seems a little obscure to appreciate, think of it this way; statistically speaking you now have a one in 12 chance of living next door to an empty home.
Homes fall empty all the time. In the good times developers hoover them up and sell them back onto the market.
But with a looming recession this has all but stopped.
Call it bad timing, but many housing regeneration projects have reached the critical decant point at exactly this time too.
Many schemes are financed on models that don’t work in a recession. The worry is that it will take years for them to be viable again. Add to that the thousands of new flats thrown up in the last gasps of the housing boom that have yet to find an occupant.
In previous recessions, empty homes have been blamed on an excess of supply, but few would argue that this time. The truth is too many of our housing policies were based on never-ending boom.
Now it has ended we need a different approach. Instead of considering housing as a disposable commodity that needs to be built when we want it and demolished when we don’t, we need a more sustainable model.
Councils and housing associations might have enjoyed being developers, but now they need to get back to their roots and
do what the market can’t; help turn wasted property back into homes.
David Ireland is chief executive of the Empty Homes Agency