Tuesday 14 August 2018

Irish people climbing the property ladder abroad: 'We're treated like foreigners in our own country now'

With many young people struggling to climb the property ladder, Independent.ie spoke to Irish people who have bought homes in Canada and America, while a couple in Australia are reconsidering moving home after a 'disheartening' mortgage meeting

Aine McKeon has just bought her own home in Toronto, Canada
Aine McKeon has just bought her own home in Toronto, Canada
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

An Irish couple looking to return home from Australia were told their savings and consistent wages from abroad will not help them secure a mortgage here.

Siobhan Morris (27) has been living in Australia for six years and is looking to move back to Ireland within the next two years.

However, after a meeting with bank officials in May, she and her boyfriend are now reconsidering their options after being told they would be classified as "overseas investors".

Siobhan, who is from Co Wexford, left Ireland as there were better paying jobs available in Australia in her field. She now feels like Irish people are being punished for moving away.

"We were told we would need to move home for a minimum of six months, get full-time employment here and then try again. Because we are gone longer than two years, we are considered overseas investors which in turn means we lose the option of getting a first-time buyers grant. It really makes you consider not coming home," Siobhan told Independent.ie.

"Basically, we are considered foreigners in our own country because we left when there was no work. Our savings and consistency here are totally irrelevant, which is mad."

Buying abroad

Meanwhile, other Irish people living in Canada and America have two feet firmly planted on the property ladder after securing their own homes.

Aine McKeon (29), from Dunboyne, Co Meath, recently bought a condo in Toronto and found the whole process straightforward and efficient.

Aine McKeon.jpg
Aine McKeon has just bought her own home in Toronto, Canada

She works as a HR associate for a PR firm and based on the current Irish market, she doesn't believe she would be able to get onto the property ladder at home. This was a factor in her decision to settle down in Canada.

"I was considering a move to Ireland, but thought I'd check out the market here before I left and was fortunate enough to get approval...and then the rest was history. I've been here almost 6 years and am delighted to be in the position I'm in after investing so many years here.

"I'm not ruling out moving home to Ireland, after all it is home, but they don't make it too easy or inviting for those who emigrated; it's hard to get back and reestablish yourself after being away for so long. If I wasn't on the property ladder in Canada, then I don't believe I would be able to get onto the property ladder in Ireland, based on the requirements. I believe a 50pc down payment is required for non-residents."

The down payments in Toronto can be as low as 5pc and total debt obligations are no more than 40pc of your gross monthly income.

"I know the down payment requirement in Ireland is less forgiving and getting your foot on the property ladder in general is very difficult and quite competitive from what I've heard from friends and family back home."

John Goodwin, originally from Dublin, bought a house in Chicago back in 2012.

He believes the houses on offer in America are "much better value for money".

"The size, quality and prices of homes make it a much better deal. If you are approved for a home loan, the down payment needed will vary from 5pc-20pc depending on the lender that approves you.

"Many people I know in Ireland are finding it difficult to get a loan. I think certain requirements are less strict in the US, especially downpayment and deposit."

In terms of Irish people returning after living abroad, a spokesman for AIB said they "will consider applications for customers currently living abroad on the basis that we can satisfy ourselves on the sustainability of their current income."  

"AIB cannot entertain applications where an applicant is dependent on more than one non-euro income. We can only assess applications where there is one non-euro income as we are obliged to monitor the exchange rate between the currency an applicant earns in and euros. This does not mean that we cannot assess applications where both applicants are paid in the same non-euro income," they added. 

Increase in house prices and emigration 

It was revealed earlier this week that the average three bed semi-detached house nationally has risen by 3.1pc to €221,843 since June, as the housing crisis continues to worsen.

This means that the average price for a home is jumping by €500 every week.

Meanwhile, new figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that more Irish people are emigrating than returning.

"Of the 64,800 people who emigrated from Ireland in the year to April 2017, 30,800 (47.5pc) were estimated to be Irish nationals," according to James Hegarty, a statistician with the CSO.

"Consequently, net outward migration of Irish nationals in 2017 was 3,400."

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