Saturday 22 October 2016

It's time Central Bank revisited lending rules

Published 05/10/2016 | 02:30

The Central Bank headquarters in Dublin
The Central Bank headquarters in Dublin

The stringent Central Bank lending rules were introduced to avoid another housing bubble.

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But many are beginning to ask, legitimately, whether the remedy is far worse than the malady.

There is no prospect of producing another housing bubble because there are virtually no houses being built. Those who wish to own a house cannot afford to buy one, while those who seek to rent one continually find themselves chasing an upward spiral, as demand so far outstrips supply.

If the Central Bank regards locking a whole swathe of young people out of the market and removing the dream of home ownership from their grasp, then it should take a bow, for the measures have been a resounding success - for investors and speculators alike. But the hard-working young families all over the country, and the people in their 30s who must live with their parents because they cannot afford to keep a roof over their heads, may see it differently.

Today, it is reported that the lending rules mean it now takes up to four years to save for a deposit to get a mortgage. It would take most an awful lot longer.

Researchers found that someone buying in south Dublin now needs a down-payment of €76,000. Property industry groups have claimed the rules are too restrictive. As Rachel McGovern of the Professional Insurance Brokers' Association (PIBA) put it, home ownership is "a target that's constantly moving." But if young people are to have any hope of hitting it, then some sense of fairness and reality must be restored, and these measures must be reviewed.

Irish Independent

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