Journalists

Sunday 24 March 2019

The ‘Rebuilding Ireland’ initiative aims to provide 25,000 new homes by 2021. Stock photo

Home Economics: Our property finance expert answers your questions 

Q We were recently approved for the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan (RBHL). We were delighted to get approval as this meant we could now get an affordable mortgage, or so we thought. On closer inspection, we realised we were tied into a mortgage protection provider called Generali Pan Europe which will charge 0.55pc of our loan amount working out as an extra €132 per month. This is up to 10 times more expensive than most other providers.

Disruptor: Fintech company N26 offers an online banking solution with a Mastercard debit card

Your Money: Cash in on online bank shake-up 

They're called disrupters - online banks using technology to unseat the traditional players. It's changing the face of banking as we know it, especially among younger people who want to 'tap and go', and are mystified by the thought of actually visiting a bank branch, or waiting for money to leave or arrive in days rather than seconds. They don't exist in bricks and mortar, but are hoovering up customers and becoming serious players in the money market. Are they worth it? Are they safe?

Stock Image: Bloomberg

Home Economics: Our property finance expert answers your questions 

Q I am looking for a smallish mortgage on my house, which currently has none, to build an extension. I need around €60,000 and the house is worth 10 times that, so I don't anticipate a problem getting the loan. My question is: I jointly own a property with my former partner where he lives and we let the other room and will, at some point probably sell, but for the moment the rental income is more valuable as it's covered by the rent-a-room scheme. It is mortgaged for about €200,000. If I take out a mortgage on my own house now, will this count against me?

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Home Economics: Our property finance expert answers your questions 

Question:My wife passed away and we have no children. My home is worth perhaps €400,000, and I have around €25,000 in the post office. I live more or less on my pension, which is €16,200 including the old age pension. My wife's death has brought my own mortality into focus. I am 79 and while I have five nieces and nephews I would certainly leave something to, I would prefer my house to be left to a charity where it could be used to house people in need. How would one go about this?

A bridging loan isn't available to a couple who wish to downsize

Home Economics: Our property finance expert answers your questions 

Question: I read with interest your paper's article about older folk freeing up their houses and downsizing. We are such a couple and find banks are unwilling to help us. We have a five-bed house ready for the market which is mortgage free and valued at €650,000. Our plan is to build a smaller house in our side garden. Ideally we wish to remain in our family home while the new house is being built as we have a disabled daughter who needs a downstairs bedroom. We have asked various banks to borrow the build cost while offering our own home as a guarantee. Each one has declined...

Stock image

Home Economics: Our property finance expert answers your questions 

Question: My father is in his late 80s and gets around independently with a walker. He does not need a nursing home and would refuse one in any event. What he does need is someone around most of the time as he is in danger of falling and he can't even do light housework so things are piling up, but we have found the private care agencies very expensive. At €25 an hour he simply cannot afford them and he was refused a Home Care Package. We considered a student under the rent-a-room scheme but I was worried they would be coming and going. I live 50km away and can't be there...

Photo: Stock

Home Economics: Our property finance expert answers your questions 

Question:Myself and my boyfriend are buying our first home together. It is my first house, but he is selling a flat he owns to purchase it which is worth €140,000 once the mortgage is paid and our new house will be around €500,000. However, our solicitor is saying that his contribution to the purchase could be treated as a ‘gift’ to me, which I don’t understand, as we will both own the house 50/50. I’m putting in €25,000 of my savings also. Is there a tax implication and how do we get around it?

'All this nostalgia reminds me that I really don't like Halloween.' Stock photo

Sinead Ryan: 'Laying ghosts of All Hallows past to rest' 

When I was a child, Halloween was about homemade costumes using a bedsheet and a box, loo-roll tubes and Sellotape or a cheap plastic mask bought in the supermarket. It was about filling a plastic bag with monkey nuts and apples you would never eat and throwing out the sodden mess a week later. All the kids on our road descended on the neighbours at the same time and nobody expected anybody else to have a 'bought' costume or even face paint.

Stock photo: Deposit

Home economics: Our property finance expert answers your questions 

Question: My girlfriend and I are hoping to rent an apartment together as it makes no sense me flat-sharing and her lease is coming to an end in December. It has been a nightmare in terms of even trying to get viewings as it has been a number of years since we’ve been in the market-place, but we were shocked recently when we were asked to pay a ‘viewing fee’ of €350 which was non-refundable just to get a ‘jump start’ on looking at an apartment. We had never heard of this before but the estate agent told us it wasn’t unusual and was quite gruff about it. We didn’t pay but...

Energy bills have become a nightmare. Stock image

Home Economics: Our property finance expert answers your questions 

Question: We are three people renting a house together and the utility bills are becoming a nightmare. One of us wants to install a pre-pay meter as she says it’s the best value for money and we can tightly control our spend. I don’t agree, because I’ve heard these are actually quite expensive, but I would also like the control. As it is, we don’t really know where our costs are going. Now with electricity prices rising we really need a solution. The house itself is quite old (1980s) and wouldn’t have great insulation. Our landlord says we can change supplier if we want.

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Home Economics: Our property finance expert answers your questions 

Question: My brother and I were left our mother’s home when she died last year. We have cleared it out and tidied it up, but are still deciding whether to sell it or let it. I have two children and my brother, who is separated, has three. Very sadly, we have recently learned that he now has a life-limiting illness and are both anxious that his family is looked after. What steps should we take to ensure that his ‘half’ of the house (or its proceeds) is kept intact for his children — and where does that leave me in terms of making decisions about it? I don’t want my brother’s ex-wife, for...

Revenue (stock image)

Home economics: Our property finance expert answers your questions 

Question: I received a letter from Revenue telling me that income I earned from a room letting in 2015 is suddenly liable to tax. I rented out my spare room on Airbnb for five months while I was between tenants (I live in the property).  I only earned around €2,000 over the entire period and it cost me money in terms of linen changes, painting the room etc. This was before I understood the income was subject to tax, which I believe was clarified last year. Am I exempt under Rent-A-Room, and how do I go about proving it?

Compulsory purchase order

Home economics: Sinead Ryan answers your property questions 

I've had the same tenant for 10 years in a property I bought as my 'first home' in 2006, deciding to keep it after I got married and moved. It was supposed to be my pension and I've been on an interest only arrangement which is due to revert to a normal mortgage. I've been advised my repayments are to go up from €825 to €1,450 per month. The 4pc rent cap is proving the final straw and I don't think I can afford this. I have deliberately under-charged the tenant in order to keep him, but is there any way I can increase his rent to market rates which may help me keep the house?

Photo: Stock Image

Home economics: Sinead Ryan answers your property questions 

We have a mortgage on our property which is 10pc of its value. As pensioners we cannot extend the term to reduce monthly repayments but we have a guaranteed monthly income, which allows us to meet our day-to-day expenses. However we would like to have a reserve for unusual expenditure. Can we do this using our property as leverage? We are not interested in life products which hit the market before the recession but understand that mortgages are freely available in the UK up to your 85th year.

Raising the roof: NUIG students protesting against the steep 18pc increases in purpose-built accommodation costs on campus, which they describe as a

Home truths: Students in residence for a princely sum 

My daughter is finishing up a Masters in Amsterdam and will be handing back the keys to her student flat - before it's turned around again for the September intake. The studio is self-contained with a kitchenette, living/study space and bed, with ensuite. It's in a new building of 300 or so units, freshly kitted out by Ikea and costs around €350 to €550 per month including utilities and wifi, depending on size. There are four such blocks, and that's just for one university. The Dutch government even offers a subsidy towards it - the huurtoeslag - if you find €3,150 for the...

Inheritance tax. Photo: Stock Image

Home economics: Sinead Ryan answers your property questions 

I am a widow who was left my husband's estate in its entirety when he passed away in 2010. It is our family home which is worth around €720,000, and about €115,000 in the post office and some shares which I think are worth around €25,000. I survive on my pension which was from his company and the old age pension, which is sufficient. My concern is, at 82, that we only had one child, our daughter who has four children. I don't want her to be left a big tax bill when I die. Would it be very large and is it possible to leave everything instead to my grandchildren via trust which I...

'Mum now needs a nursing home'. Stock image

Home economics: Sinead Ryan answers your property questions 

My father and mother separated many years ago and she came to live with me. My dad and his partner live in what was my parents’ home. Mum now needs a nursing home. I can’t afford this, and it would need to be under Fair Deal. However, the problem is that the house technically still belongs to Mum and Dad, as they never legally separated and the HSE is saying it has to be included in the costings. But Dad and his partner are avidly refusing this and I’m caught in the middle. What advice can you give?