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Home economics: Our property finance expert answers your questions



Family law. File photo

Family law. File photo

Family law. File photo

Q We gifted our daughter a house that was left to me some years ago and she spent significant (borrowed) money doing it up. After she married, her husband moved in. They are now divorcing and she plans to stay there while he moves on. They had no children and he was never on the deeds. We are horrified to discover that he is insisting she sell it and give him half the proceeds. She cannot afford to buy him out instead. How can we keep it in the family?

A The house is not 'in the family'; it belongs to your daughter. I am not being glib, but as it was gifted to her by you, it is her property now. Therefore, it is not your issue legally, although obviously you are worried for your daughter.

Deirdre Burke, head of family law at Orpen Franks, says your only involvement is if you are called to give evidence about the gift during the divorce hearing.

"The starting point for any divorce settlement is 50/50, which applies to any property. What needs to be decided is the percentage interest your son-in-law has; it's not just an asset, it is a family home, so attracts greater protection for them both, irrespective of who brought it to the table."

She adds that what's taken into account in the absence of a clear agreement includes:

* The gift of the house before marriage and her investment in it.

* The length of the marriage. The shorter it was, the easier it is for her to move away from 50/50 ownership.

* The absence of children.

* What, if any, contribution he made to the property - co-paying the mortgage, fixtures and fittings etc.

* Any other assets either of them has.

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"Unless he is wholly financially dependent on her, she should avoid losing 50pc, but he is unlikely to go away with nothing. If he has other properties and somewhere to live, then she could keep the house and he can keep his other assets, by agreement."

All of this will be made clear to your daughter via her solicitor, so best leave them to it and offer whatever other supports she may need.


Q I am divorcing my husband and thankfully it is quite amicable. The plan is for me to buy him out of our family home and this figure has been agreed. However, in applying for the mortgage I have not only been told that the bank won't leave me on our tracker mortgage but they are charging me a higher interest rate than their website says and more than if we were a couple. This is clearly discriminatory - is it legal?

A It's not discriminatory; well, not in a legal sense anyway, although I can see why you feel aggrieved. Of primary importance is that this change is amicable so don't underestimate that to the detriment of focusing on the financials.

You will lose the tracker either way. When a mortgage contract changes at all, the bank reserves the right to offer you whatever loans are on offer at the time, and trackers are no longer available. That said, some will 'transport' a tracker as part of a new mortgage set up, so you should ask.

Joey Sheahan, author of The Mortgage Coach, says if the bank doesn't offer you tracker retention, or a 'new customer' interest rate on the loan, you should apply through a mortgage broker to another bank that will. Essentially your bank is penalising you for the added risk that one borrower brings, over two.

"If your mortgage is in excess of €300,000 and your loan to value is below 80pc, then a five-year fixed interest rate of 2.2pc is available. Otherwise a two-year fixed rate of 2.3pc is available, subject to credit approval. So even though you may lose out on the tracker rate, some of the bank's new business interest rates are close enough to what you would be offered in any case so you shouldn't lose out too much."


The Ryan Review

Banks are falling over themselves trying to hook in customers for loans with a big push on social media. It's how they make their money, so how they sell it is important. Millions of euro is spent on advertising budgets across all platforms.

The Credit Union generally sets itself apart as a responsible community lender of smaller sums. It doesn't really compete on big-ticket lending, so confines itself to car, holiday or home improvement loans, which it does, for the most part, sensibly and conscientiously.

But the latest Instagram ad for the Irish League of Credit Unions is, well, odd and somewhat self-defeating. A bunch of children's characters - fun furry monsters - hop across the street into the credit union. What are they after? Em, 'Monster' loans, apparently.

Sinead presents 'The Home Show' on Newstalk on Saturday mornings at 9am.

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