Thursday 27 April 2017

Ask the experts: Is it a good time to be a first-time buyer

Keith Lowe CEO Douglas Newman Good
Keith Lowe CEO Douglas Newman Good
Michael Grehan, managing director, Sherry FitzGerald
Claire Solon, President, Society of Chartered Surveyors. Iain White/Fennell Photography
Eamonn Spratt, Real Estate Alliance
Pat Davitt, CEO of IPAV

Keith Lowe

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With property prices over 40pc below their peak, a 5pc first-time buyers’ grant available, and softened mortgage rules, 2017 will be an excellent year for first-time buyers. Prior to Budget 2017, a first-time buyer would have needed savings of €48,000 to purchase a house priced at €350,000. Today, the same buyer only requires €17,000 in savings. The 5pc grant is only available until 2019 so, if I were a first-time buyer, I would speed up my buying decision.

Keith Lowe is CEO of Douglas Newman Good, which has 75 offices throughout the country. He has 32 years' experience in the sector, having joined the firm in 1984.

Michael Grehan

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The relatively poor supply of property and the strict mortgage- lending criteria have made it difficult for first-time buyers. The hope is that recent initiatives, which include relaxing of particularly tight lending restrictions and help-to-buy schemes, will make buying a more attainable proposition which includes those on the periphery.

Michael Grehan s the managing director of the Sherry FitzGerald estate agency group, which has a 66-branch-strong network including franchises. He has more than 27 years' experience in the sector.

Claire Solon

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I think it’s a good time for first-time buyers to purchase now, because most are paying high rents and can avail of the help-to-buy incentive, which applies to all homes, not just new houses. Rental affordability is one of the biggest factors driving first-timers into the market and, with interest rates at historic lows, buyers may be able to find a home with a monthly mortgage payment that is less than or equal to rent.

Claire Solon is president of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, with 5,000 members in the property sector, and head of property at Friends First, where she manages €500m of property assets.

Eamonn Spratt

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Yes. We are seeing evidence of a sudden return of the first-time buyer to viewings, especially in the Dublin area, since the lifting of the Central Bank restrictions. The 16pc annual fall in cash buyers points to a willingness of banks to lend again and compete for business. However, the choice is limited and there are little to no new schemes available, especially outside Dublin.

Eamonn Spratt is chairman of the Real Estate Alliance, a partnership of more than 50 auctioneering firms nationwide. He is also the third generation to run the family estate agency REA Spratt in Dungarvan, Co Waterford, where he has worked for 28 years.

Pat Davitt

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Yes, it is a good time. Obviously, the first-time buyers’ grant is a help but it is still very difficult to get your foot on the ladder in your preferred location.

Pat Davitt is the CEO of the Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers (IPAV). Pat has more than 34 years' experience in the sector, spending much of it running a family-based auctioneering firm in Mullingar.

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