Give returning emigrants access to first time buyers’ scheme

Give returning emigrants access first time buyers scheme
06/10/2017 Fianna Fáil publish Budget 2018 priorities. Photograph: Leah Farrell /

Fianna Fáil wants returning Irish emigrants to be treated as first time buyers

The party says Irish citizens returning home from overseas should have the same access to special subsidised home loan schemes as first-time buyers.

In Ireland those buying their first home have to raise only 10 per cent of the value of the house for a deposit, half of the 20 per cent sum needed for second and subsequent buyers.

First-time buyers can avail of the state-subsidised Help-To-Buy scheme which allows first-time buyers to claim up to €20,000 off the price of a newly built home. It offers a five per cent rebate on the first €400,000 of a new home worth up to €500,000. Fianna Fáil finance spokesman and Cork TD Michael McGrath said that Irish citizens returning home, who had bought property abroad, are currently treated as a “non first-time buyer” under the rules.

He said: “At a time when the state is trying to attract emigrants back to Ireland, this is exactly the type of issue that needs to be addressed. An emigrant may have owned an apartment or house abroad for a period of time and then sold it.

“They may not have the type of lump sum needed to meet the twenty per cent deposit requirement. In my view, the fact that they never owned a home in Ireland means they should be regarded as a first-time buyer here.” He said Ireland’s Revenue Commissioners, its Central Bank and the Irish Department of Housing all have separate definitions of first-time buyers.

He said the Governor of Ireland’s Central Bank Philip Lane had promised to address this issue with him. Mr McGrath cited as useful precedent the fact that someone who had been divorced and previously owned a home might be treated as a first-time buyer for the purposes of qualifying for a Rebuilding Ireland home loan.

The scheme, launched in January, aims to give loans to aspiring homebuyers who have been rejected by the banks. First-time buyers can get access to low-interest, fixed-rate mortgages of between 2 and 2.5 per cent over a 25 to 30-year term.

The help-to-buy scheme has been widely used since its inception last year. In the 12 months to the end of March 6,422 people used the scheme, according to Ireland’s Revenue Commissioners.

The greater Dublin area, which includes Meath, Kildare and Wicklow, accounted for 64 per cent of all claims. A total of 357 people used the scheme to buy homes worth more than €450,000.

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