Thursday 18 January 2018

Many potential first-time buyers are unaware of the help-to-buy scheme

Many couples are unaware of the help-to-buy scheme. Stock picture
Many couples are unaware of the help-to-buy scheme. Stock picture
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Large numbers of potential first-time buyers are unaware of the Government's help-to-buy scheme.

A survey commissioned by Bank of Ireland found 39pc of potential first-time buyers are not aware of the tax incentive to buy newly built homes.

This is despite the fact the Government's controversial help-to-buy scheme has received massive media attention.

Four of out 10 people who intend to buy their first home told researchers at Red C they have no knowledge of the scheme.

The scheme operates as a tax rebate, giving first-time buyers who purchase a new home tax back of up to €20,000.

It has been heavily criticised by opposition politicians and economists, and blamed for pushing up property prices at a time of a chronic shortage of supply.

For those who are aware of the rebate, large numbers of them are now considering buying a newly built home.

Researchers also found that four out of 10 potential first-time buyers were unaware that the Central Bank deposit rules were changed this year.

First-time buyers got a break from the start of this year when Central Bank-imposed rules on lenders eased the deposit requirement to 10pc for new buyers. This allows new buyers to take out a 90pc mortgage, regardless of the property's value.

The research, carried out on those who hope to be first-time buyers, also found four out of 10 have to resort to the 'bank of mum and dad' to get the money together for a deposit.

This is despite large numbers of them having been saving for two years.

Saving for a deposit is the biggest challenge facing new buyers, with a lack of supply the next biggest issue.

The size of a down payment needed has been creeping up in line with the surge in property prices. Economists at the Central Bank found that last year the average Dublin first-time buyer had a deposit of €50,000.

There was an average of €25,000 being used as a down payment in the rest of the State last year, according to the economic letter by Central Bank economists Jane Kelly and Reamonn Lydon.

Most new buyers want to buy a house rather than an apartment. The new Bank of Ireland-commissioned research found that the majority of those hoping to buy a home have a deposit saving plan in place.

For those actively saving for a deposit, an amount of €440 is being put aside every month, down slightly from last year.

Three-quarters of first-time buyers surveyed are currently renting and pay an average of €820 a month.

The average age of the first-time buyers surveyed was 34, and half have children.

"It is very evident that there are a number of issues facing first-time buyers, particularly with rents and property prices increasing and supply not meeting demand across the country.

"It was interesting to see that a large proportion have set their sights on buying a house over an apartment, indicative perhaps of the life stage many first-time buyers in Ireland are at, with many aged in their mid-30s with children," said Karena O'Sullivan, head of mortgages at Bank of Ireland.

Irish Independent

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