Revealed: Buyers of these plush homes can get €20,000 tax rebate
These are some of the plush homes costing up to €600,000 which first-time buyers with deep pockets can buy with assistance from the Government's 'Help to Buy' package.
Most are 'stunning', some are 'magnificent' and they boast 'luxury' kitchens, 'superior' bathrooms and 'attractive' windows, amongst other features.
They range in size from 180 to 321 square metres - around three times the size of an average three-bed semi-detached home.
All require a salary of at least €97,000 for a bank to approve a mortgage.
The Help to Buy package allows house purchasers to claim a tax rebate of 5pc of the purchase price of a new home, to a maximum of €20,000. It is designed to help first-time buyers secure a deposit and draw down a mortgage.
But the measure has been widely criticised for allowing the rebate to apply for homes costing as much as €600,000, way beyond what many experts believe is the cost of an 'affordable' property.
Lorcan Sirr, lecturer in housing studies in the School of Real Estate and Construction Economics at the Dublin Institute of Technology, says not only will the scheme help fuel price hikes, it's too broad.
"If you're buying a house for half a million euro or more, think of the salary you need. Do you need taxpayers' money?
"A cap of €400,000 would tie builders to prices. The Government has now set a target for builders. It would not be surprising to see a three-bed semi-d going to €390,000."
The Property Price Register shows that up to September 30 this year, some 4,074 new homes were sold across the country. Most - 3,882 - cost €600,000 or less.
But the register also reveals that most of these units - 88pc of the total - cost less than €400,000. In Dublin, where price hikes have been sharpest and where first-time buyers struggle to secure a home at an affordable price, the figure drops to 72pc. The decision to include homes up to €600,000 was defended by Housing Minister Simon Coveney.
"We're only paying the tax rebate on the first €400,000 but we want to avoid a cliff effect," he said. "We don't want somebody buying a property for €390,000 or €400,000 to get the €20,000, and somebody who buys a house for €405,000 to get nothing at all."
He stressed that the €20,000 cap meant there would be "nothing extra" for expensive properties.
"But we leave some space so people who buy properties above that threshold don't put themselves in the position of getting nothing. This is really only a Dublin thing. There are some parts of Dublin where new houses are very expensive and we think the number of first time buyers buying in that market will be very small."
Under Central Bank lending rules, first time buyers must secure a deposit of 10pc of the first €220,000 property price, and 20pc on amounts after.
For a €400,000 home, a deposit of €58,000 must be secured. The rebate will make up €20,000 of this amount. To secure a mortgage for the balance of €342,000, the borrower must have an income of at least €97,000.
For a home costing €600,000, a deposit of €98,000 must be secured. To secure mortgage approval for the balance, a salary of €143,000 is required.
Property website Daft.ie had 94 new homes costing between €400,000 and €600,000 listed yesterday. The bulk of them, 54, were in Dublin and the remainder in Cork, Kerry, Kildare, Louth, Meath and Wicklow.
One €575,000 four-bed property at Dunshaughlin, in Meath, was 321 square metres - about three times the size of a three-bed semi-detached.
A five-bed detached at Belfield Abbey, Boreenmanna, Ballinlough, Co Cork, is 215 square metres and on sale for €590,000. By comparison, a four-bedroom house at Hawthorn, Aughamore, Clane, Co Kildare is for sale for €420,000.
Another home at Forest Hill in Carrigaline, Co Cork, has four bedrooms and is 182 square metres. It costs €410,000. And in Mallow, Co Cork, €410,000 will get you a home that boasts five bedrooms.
Mr Sirr said while there were many positive measures in the Government's housing package, if 6,000 people claimed the Help to Buy rebate it would cost the State €120m - around 600 social housing units.
"You don't help anybody because you're just pushing up prices for first-time buyers," he said.