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Charlie Weston: 'Poor rich' earn over €100,000 but can't meet home payments

A NEW class of "poor rich" has emerged who are unable to meet their mortgage and other repayments despite earning more than €100,000.

These people elicit little sympathy but are often job creators and entrepreneurs, research by a leading financial adviser has found.

Many of these people have seen incomes collapse from €300,000 a year to less than €100,000 -- but they still typically owe more than €1m on their home and other property loans.

Those likely to be "poor rich" include owner managers, lawyers, accountants, company directors, doctors and professionals who previously worked in construction, like architects.

According to research by mortgage specialist Karl Deeter, many of these people bought investment properties and holiday homes.

They have been hit hard by a collapse in their income, higher taxes on those earning more than €100,000 and a change in property tax reliefs.

Mr Deeter came to his conclusions after examining a range of cases he had dealt with over the past two years.

"A new class of debtor in arrears are the poor rich. They are typically earning six-figure salaries and it is often assumed they are able to afford any outgoing because of this.

"This may be true in some cases, but it isn't in all," Mr Deeter of Advisors.ie said.

He added that although these people may have had their income slashed they were still earning what many saw as a decent income. But they also had massive bills to pay.

"People in this situation get little or no sympathy in general because it is assumed they can afford their debts, or they were greedy in buying expensive homes, but as a percentage of income their position is as bad as the next debtor who we do have sympathy for," he said.

High earners were often entrepreneurs, job creators and professionals at the top of their industries.

"They deploy their capital and take risk.

Love them or hate them, we need them," Mr Deeter said.

Many of the poor rich Mr Deeter has been dealing with are leaving the country, going to the UK to become bankrupt there, or letting staff go in order to cut costs and maintain their income.

He said that in one recent case he dealt with, the person's income had dropped from over €300,000 a year to €100,000.

This person had invested heavily in property during the boom and now their debts were more than €1m, or 10 times the size of their take-home pay.

"All we can do in many cases is explain that they need to become comfortable with the idea of losing everything," Mr Deeter said.

He said there was a need to acknowledge that there was not some mystical boundary at €100,000, which meant a person had no problems.

Irish Independent