THOSE looking for signs of a recovery in house prices will be heartened by the tripling in the number of first-time buyers availing of mortgage interest relief on homes in the final quarter of 2012.
Figures secured by Fine Gael TD Patrick O'Donovan reveal that the number of applicants for mortgage interest relief on the purchase of homes in 2012 rose steadily throughout 2012 from an initially stark low of just 351 applicants in January.
The number of householders availing of the relief remained below the 400 mark until May. However, by September, take-up of the scheme had almost doubled to 692.
In the final two months of the year, more than 1,000 new householders availed of the relief.
The final-quarter take-up rate may have been elevated by the ending of a special deal in Budget 2011 for new house buyers.
When set against the stark figures of the earlier quarter of 2012, the increase will be welcomed. A separate set of figures also reveals that stamp duty from the sale of houses in 2012 experienced a modest increase from a low of €44.48m in 2011 to €56.9m.
However, a more accurate indicator of the ongoing enervated state of the housing market is contained in the revelation that just 7,287 new householders availed of the mortgage relief scheme in 2012.
In contrast, this new up-take is counter-balanced by the recent revelation that 6,982 householders lost their mortgage interest relief because of their inability to pay the mortgage on first- time homes that were purchased during the height of the boom.
DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE FIGURES ON TAKE-UP OF FIRST-TIME MORTGAGE RELIEF SCHEME
2012 Number of New Loans