New house construction increased by more than a half in January compared with the same month last year.
Despite the increase, the number of houses that were actually completed continued to decline in January. Nearly one-fifth fewer houses were finished in the month compared with January 2012, according to the CIF.
Some areas have seen a drop in house completions, among those were Clare, Cork, Dublin, and Donegal.
Hubert Fitzpatrick, CIF director, said urban areas had seen a rise in demand and that the availability of finance was a key factor in any recovery in the construction industry.
“We’re seeing activity picking up in the more urban areas on a general level while the rural areas are suffering from the overhang in residential housing stock,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.
“Occasionally there are areas which go against this trend for a short periods, but looking at the figures from an annual viewpoint there is little doubt that this is how the market is developing.
“The CIF has forecasted a further decline in house building activity for 2013 but the number of new house starts is very positive. It won’t be enough at this point to help alter the number of units completed this year, but if the increase was repeated in the coming months then any decline in activity for 2013 will be minimal.
“Access to finance will be the next key step in helping the residential construction market return to a more sustainable level.
“The banks need to take note of these figures and the wider residential picture and make funding available for viable housing projects in the places they are needed.”