Less stress, more success with our first-time buyer grant guide

First time buying made easy with our first-time buyers' financial guide, a template which can help young house hunters utilise all the aids on offer to become a home owner.

While buying your first home may seem daunting, it is a process millions of people in Ireland have gone through it and come out the other side, now thanks to aids like the Help to Buy scheme (HTB ), owning your own home is an achievable goal.

Help to Buy scheme

Firstly, in order to qualify as a first-time buyer and receive any kind of grant aid, you must not have had a mortgage in your name before, either in Ireland or abroad, this includes joint owned homes with someone you went on to divorce, for example. Inherited properties or a house which has been purchased outright are not included in the list of qualifiers. If you will be buying (or self-building ) the property with someone else, they must also be a first-time buyer.

Criteria

Once you have qualified for the HTB scheme, you must also pass the following criteria;

If you are buying a new home, it must cost €500,000 or less. If you are building your home, the approved valuation must be €500,000 or less.

You must live in the property for five years from the date that it is habitable.

If you are buying your new home, the contractor or developer you buy it from must be approved by Revenue. If you are building, you will need a Solicitor to verify your claim for HTB.

You must be fully tax-compliant for the previous four years before your claim. You will need to complete Form 12 for PAYE workers and Form 11 for self-assessed tax payers for each of the four years as well as paying any outstanding taxes.

Relief available

The HTB scheme was introduced in 2017 with the maximum relief available temporarily increased in July 2020 and has been extended in subsequent budgets to include housing until the last day in December 2024.

Eligible applicants can claim relief on the lesser of;

€30,000

10% of the purchase price of a new build property

10% of the approved valuation of a self-build property

The amount of income tax and DIRT you paid for the previous 4 years

The maximum figure for payment is €30,000 per qualifying property, something that applies regardless of the number of people who have entered into a contract to purchase the property.

First Home Scheme

Unlike the HTB scheme, the First Home Scheme (FHS ) is a shared equity scheme where the state and participating banks will pay up to 30% of the cost of your new home in a return for a stake in the property. This stake can then be bought back if desired, but is not a necessity.

Operating similarly to local authority affordable home schemes, the FHS operates on a national level and is available for first-time buyers and specific applicants who want to own their own home but cannot afford to. Under the FHS scheme, your income is not assessed.

The application criteria for both first-time buyers under the HTB and FHS are the same and are listed in full on Citizens Information.

Criteria

Unlike the HTB, under the FHS the price of your home must be within the price limits for your area, with the limits for Galway city capped at €425,000 for houses and €450,000 for apartments. County Galway is currently set at a cap of €375,000 for all properties. The limits are linked to the median price for first-time buyers in each area and are reviewed regularly to ensure they reflect an accurate figure.

As well as your house price falling within the limits, your mortgage must be with a participating lender. The current participating lenders include, Bank of Ireland, Permanent TSB and Allied Bank which includes AIB, Haven Mortgages and EBS.

Funding

As a shared equity scheme, the FHS will provide you with up to 30% of the market value of your new home, which is then reduced to 20% if you are also using the previously mentioned HTB scheme. The minimum amount you can get is 2.5% of the property purchase price, or €10,000, whichever is higher.

After you have borrowed from the FHS, you will not have to pay back for the first five years that you own your home, with the first service charge due if you have not bought out your FHS equity share by year six. It is a percentage of the amount the FHS paid when you bought the home and increases the longer you spend in the scheme. From years six to 15, you will pay a 1.75% service charge, this will increase to 2.15% from 16 to 29 years and the final increase is 2.85% for those in the scheme longer than 30 years.

You can buy back the equity share at any time, but are not expected to. Partial payments are allowed as well as one lump sum. The equity share in your home is a percentage of the market value of your home. So, if property prices increase, the amount you have to pay back will increase. For example, if you bought your property in 2022 for €300,000 and the FHS provided equity of 10% or €30,000 and you want to buy back the equity share in 2025 when the property is valued at €350,000, you will have to pay 10% of this, which is €35,000.

Conclusion

While the stress of being a first-time buyer is no doubt gnawing through many reading this, there are multiple sources online which outline the information in far greater detail and can provide even greater options available to you. To learn more about both the HTB and FHS schemes you can visit gov.ie and citizensinformation.ie

 

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