Saturday 24 March 2018

'We were hard-saving for about two in an absolute box' – First-time buyers delight with €20k tax rebate

Paul and Marian at Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge in Antrim
Paul and Marian at Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge in Antrim
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

A couple who signed the contracts for their new Dublin home just over a month ago are delighted with the news that they’ll be entitled to €20,000 in tax rebate.

Paul O’Brien (28) from Co Kildare, and his girlfriend Marian Duff (30) from Dublin, had been searching for a house in the capital for almost two years.

At times, Paul admits they came close to throwing in the towel, but they finally found light at the end of house-hunting tunnel.

They recently bought a house in Churchtown, Dublin 14, having spent the last four years renting a one-bed “box” in Rathmines in order to save money.

The Government’s new Help-to-Buy scheme, which was announced as part of Budget 2017, will provide first-time buyers with a rebate of 5pc on the purchase price of a new home.

The rebate will be back-dated until July 19, 2016, which will see Paul and Marian receive €20,000 back in tax.

“It’s nice to finally get a piece of good news after a stressful few years. Obviously we’re pretty happy with it, although it’s a bit confusing as there isn’t much information on how we actually apply for the rebate.

“I feel really lucky that we bought a new home, as I know plenty of people who are looking at second-hand homes and won’t be entitled to this, which is probably a bit unfair,” he told

When asked what sacrifices they made in order to save, Paul admits he and his girlfriend haven’t been living the high life.

“We’ve been hard-saving for about two years. We chose to holiday in Ireland instead of abroad and we wouldn’t have been living life to the fullest,” he said.

“We were lucky in that the house we were renting wasn’t near to what the average prices are in Dublin in terms of renting so we were able to save a lot more than other people in our position – it was an absolute box though,” he laughed.

He admits that trying to find the right house was incredibly difficult, and at times they felt like giving up.

“It was crazy. People would be coming to viewings with the deposits in cash, waving them about. House prices are absurd. There aren’t enough houses, and then the ones that you do find are ridiculously priced.

“When we initially started looking, we didn’t think it would take this long. At times we were so fed up we would nearly cancel viewings and felt like throwing in the towel.”

With a purchase price of €450,000, Paul and Marian had to fork out a deposit of €45k.

When it came to getting a mortgage, he admits they probably wouldn’t have been successful were it not for the advice of Park Financial Planning.

“I didn’t understand half the requirements needed to get a mortgage, so it’s difficult in that regard. Even now, I don’t understand how we get this €20,000 back, but I’ll take it,” he said.

Another couple who benefited from the tax rebate told "God Bless Michael Noonan".

James o Kane and Siobhan McKenna.jpg
Siobhan McKenna and James O'Kane

James O’Kane (31) is due to sign the contracts for his new house in Parkside, Malahide this week and is over the moon with the news that he and his girlfriend Siobhan McKenna (31) will be entitled to tax rebate.

“It’s almost too good to be true,” he beamed.

“It’s pretty good news for us. We were meant to be buying a second-hand home but it fell through so many times, so in hindsight that’s probably a good thing now.”

James, originally from Co. Derry, will be purchasing the house for €325,000, meaning he and Siobhan will be entitled to up to €16,250 back in tax.

“I think we are lucky in a sense because this new scheme will probably push the price up for newly built homes in the next while. We’re glad that we have agreed our price.”

He admits that they didn’t have it as hard as some couples, due to paying cheap rent and both of them having secure jobs. James works as a financial analyst and Siobhan is a social worker.

“We’re lucky because our rent isn’t as extortionate as some people’s. Also, you definitely need two of you to be on an okay salary to get a house. Neither of us would have qualified for a mortgage on our own. We are just extremely grateful to be honest; it’s been a good week for us.” 

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