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TD raises concerns over First Home Scheme on Louth/Meath border

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"A developer launching a new phase in Drogheda later this summer has advised that the standard 3 bed new builds will start at €365,000. This is €65,000 over the cap for the First Home Scheme which makes it ineligible for purchase under the scheme."

"A developer launching a new phase in Drogheda later this summer has advised that the standard 3 bed new builds will start at €365,000. This is €65,000 over the cap for the First Home Scheme which makes it ineligible for purchase under the scheme."

"A developer launching a new phase in Drogheda later this summer has advised that the standard 3 bed new builds will start at €365,000. This is €65,000 over the cap for the First Home Scheme which makes it ineligible for purchase under the scheme."

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A local TD fears that first-time home buyers purchasing a property on the wrong side of the Louth-Meath border will be unfairly penalised under the rules of the First Home Scheme introduced last month.

Fine Gael deputy, Fergus O’Dowd, has pointed out that the same house type, in the same estate, could end up costing a Meath couple considerably more than their Louth counterparts.

The First Home Scheme, launched on July 7, supports first-time buyers in purchasing new houses and apartments in the private market through the use of an equity share model. The Scheme uses regional price ceilings based on the median prices of new-build homes purchased by first-time buyers in each area.

This approach is being taken in order to temper any inflationary pressures, to target the Scheme’s supports at purchases in the lower part of the price distribution in each area, and to encourage additional housing supply at this level.

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However, anomalies arise on county boundaries.

 “I have already raised my concerns in respect of the settlement areas in Drogheda that straddle both County Louth and County Meath respectively, my concerns remain that houses at one end of an estate on the Meath side will have a much higher cap than those at the other end of the estate in Louth,” said Deputy O’Dowd.

He said he has asked housing minister Darragh O’Brien, “if CSO settlement areas might be considered for use in this scheme, where towns and villages straddle two county boundaries where the caps are vastly different to provide equality for purchases under the scheme. 

“My second serious concern relates to the caps as they stand,” added O’Dowd. "A developer launching a new phase in Drogheda later this summer has advised that the standard 3 bed new builds will start at €365,000. This is €65,000 over the cap for the First Home Scheme which makes it ineligible for purchase under the scheme.

“In the Drogheda/Bettystown/Duleek areas of Co. Meath, upon assessment of 5 developments, the new build homes for a standard 3 bed again start at a minimum of €365,000. This is €15,000 over the cap. Which again would render prospective first-time buyers ineligible.

“Looking broadly at the Drogheda area and its proximity to Dublin, the caps in many cases will struggle to meet the price of new builds for a standard 3 bed home, in particular the Louth cap, and this is why I fear the scheme will be largely unattainable to many individuals and families looking to locate in the area.

“Whilst I welcome the overall strategy I’m extremely concerned that with the current increases in house prices the problem will only exacerbate itself over the coming months and years.

Minister O’Brien said, “Any system of geographically-based price ceilings will necessarily require defined borders. Inevitably, this will result in examples of homes on either side of given borders with differing price ceilings. However, when considered overall, I am confident the system will broadly reflect price trends, and represent a clear, easily understandable method for utilising appropriate price ceilings. 

"The First Home Scheme Ireland Designated Activity Company now holds responsibility for maintaining and reviewing or updating of price ceilings nationally. The First Home Scheme has confirmed a review of ceilings will be undertaken after six months of operation and periodically thereafter. This review of the methodology and underlying data will ensure that any ceilings allow the scheme to deliver on its underlying objectives.


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