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Central Bank lending rules a blow to first-time buyers

Six years after the property market fell off the cliff, the Central Bank of Ireland has finally published a set of rules to limit the amounts that people can borrow for home loans. They are designed to ensure prudent lending as the property market here begins to improve.

In essence, all bar 15 per cent of the value of new mortgages written will have to involve a deposit of at least 20 per cent. In parallel with this, an upper limit of 3½ times income will be imposed in all but 20 per cent of new home loans.

This is bad news for first-time buyers on the double. The old rule of thumb was that they needed a deposit of 10 per cent of the house price to get a mortgage. The Central Bank has now doubled that figure.

Ironically, some first-time buyers might be able go to their local credit union to top up their deposit without the banks necessarily knowing about it. This is because we don’t have a functioning central credit register. Such a register has been in the offing for the past few years but the Central Bank said yesterday that it won’t be operational until “early 2016”.

central bank

However, this is Ireland and rules are seldom set in stone. There is a consultation process that will run to December 8th 2014.

  1. There is still time to reduce the impact of these necessary measures with a little simple but creative thinking. These aspiring first-time buyers do not deserve to be frozen out of home ownership and the Government has a responsibility to help them. The vast majority of them are in the relatively early stages of their careers and did not participate in the obscene financial feeding frenzy that preceded the economic and housing market crash. They should not be made victims for the past mistakes of others.

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