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Friday 20 September 2019

Resentment grows as dream of 'own home' out of reach

Poll: support to ban plastics but opposition to carbon tax rise

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Jody Corcoran

Jody Corcoran

The dream of home ownership has dramatically receded for many people in the past year, according to a Sunday Independent/Kantar consumer sentiment opinion poll.

The nationwide poll finds there has been a huge fall in the number of people saving for a mortgage deposit, from 22pc in August last year to just 10pc now.

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Among those who are saving money generally, there is a massive increase in people doing so out of a sense of caution, with 62pc (up 15 points) putting cash into a "rainy day" fund.

While this finding - 58pc say they now save regularly or monthly - reflects nervousness related to Brexit and other negative economic indicators, one-in-five still say they can not afford to save at all, similar to last year, a finding which shows that the economic recovery in recent years was uneven and did not benefit everybody.

The poll also delivers mixed findings in relation to environmental issues with strong support for banning single use plastics, phasing out petrol and diesel cars, but far more divided opinion on increasing carbon taxes and a polluter pay policy in general.

However, it is the poll findings in relation to housing and the mortgage market that are most revealing, indicating that home ownership has become out of reach for many people, and consequently that Ireland's "love affair" with property may be nearing a somewhat bitter and resentful end.

For the first time since these series of consumer sentiment polls began in 2012, more negativity than positivity towards buying a house was found: overall, only 5pc (down one point) agree strongly and 23pc (down 13 points) agree slightly that now is a good time to buy.

Overall, nearly half (47pc) believe the housing market is destined to collapse like it did during the recent economic recession while 20pc disagree.

The polls find the public mostly blame the banks for the current housing market: six-in-10 (59pc) disagree that the banks are doing enough to help people get mortgages, which is up a significant 10 points on last year.

The Central Bank's mortgage rules restrict the loan-to-income limit for a prospective buyer to 3.5 times their annual income.

The Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar recently called on the Central Bank to loosen the rules to help young couples caught in the so-called 'rent trap'. "I know the Central Bank is independent, I know it's going to look at these things but as supply increases I hope that they would consider changes in that area so that people can get out of that rent trap and be able to buy," Mr Varadkar has said.

Overall, only 18pc believe the banks are doing enough to help potential house buyers get mortgages; 63pc think the Central Bank rules are unfair on first-time buyers; a massive 78pc think legislation should be introduced to prevent banks from selling off impaired loans to so-called vulture funds and only 31pc think rent pressure zones have been effective.

And among the falling numbers actually saving for a mortgage, only 36pc say now is a good time to buy; 52pc think the collapse of the property market is imminent; 75pc think the Central Bank rules are unfair; 70pc disagree that bankers are doing enough; 66pc want legislation to tackle vulture funds while 47pc disagree and 45pc agree that rent pressure zones are effective.

On the environment, half (50pc) believe the proposal to phase out fossil fuel cars by 2030 is a good idea, while 31pc disagree and 14pc neither agree nor disagree. However, there is scepticism in relation to the Government's proposal to have one million electric cars on the roads by 2030 - 57pc say it is not realistic.

While three-quarters say they have actively changed their behaviour regarding use of plastics and 74pc say single use plastics such as coffee cups and straws should be banned, there is some opposition to a polluter pay policy: a minority 43pc believe an increase in carbon taxes is the only way that people will change their ways regarding environmental responsibility, while 37 disagree and 15pc neither agree nor disagree.

Furthermore, a minority 45pc agree that not enough is being done to reduce emissions in agriculture while 19pc disagree and 21pc neither agree nor disagree.

Asked whether it was right to insist the homeowners should pay for home renovations themselves to make them energy efficient with a 10 or 20-year loan split across their energy bills, just 34pc agreed, while 41pc disagreed.

Sunday Independent

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