Legal Perspectives on Irish Government Initiatives: Help to Buy Scheme and First Home Scheme
In recent years, the Irish Government has endeavoured to facilitate entry into the housing market for first-time buyers through strategic measures such as the Help to Buy Scheme and the First Home Scheme. These schemes have acted as a bridge in the gap between rising property prices and the challenges associated with saving for a deposit.
Help to Buy (HTB) Scheme:
The Help to Buy Scheme is tailored to individuals seeking to purchase their first property. The Help to Buy scheme offers a substantial financial support, providing for a tax refund of up to 10% of the purchase price or a maximum of €30,000; whichever is lower. The scheme assists in meeting the property deposit by offering a refund of Income Tax and Deposit Interest Retention Tax (DIRT) paid over the preceding four years. Joint purchasers, such as couples, can collectively leverage the scheme to access the maximum available amount.
Eligibility requires applicants to qualify as first-time buyers, having not previously purchased or constructed a property in Ireland. This requirement thus targets those yet to enter the property market. It must be noted that specific limits on property value apply, with a maximum market value of €500,000 for Dublin properties and €450,000 for outside the Dublin region.
Applying for the Help to Buy Scheme can be done by using the Revenue Online System (ROS). Once an application has been approved, the tax refund is paid directly to the applicant’s bank account (in the case of self builds) or the qualifying contractor/builder (in the case of new builds).
The Help to Buy Scheme stands as a valuable resource for first-time buyers, alleviating financial barriers and facilitating entry into the property market. A welcome term of the 2024 budget has extended the Help to Buy Scheme until the 31st of December 2025.
First Home Scheme (FHS):
The First Home Scheme is a cost-effective housing initiative primarily aimed at supporting first-time homebuyers. Employing a shared equity format, the First Home Scheme contribute to the property’s overall purchase price in exchange for a stake in ownership. Designed to aid first-time buyers, the First Home Scheme extends its eligibility to individuals following divorce, separation, or insolvency proceedings under the Government’s ‘Fresh Start Principle’.
The First Home Scheme utilises an equity shared model, wherein the contributed percentage of equity translates to ownership until the property is sold or the amount is repaid. The fluctuating nature of the owed amount is noteworthy due to the equity interest being a percentage rather than a fixed sum. This equity share shall be noted on the Folio and registered as an Inhibition.
The repurchase of equity can be accomplished through a lump sum or affordable instalments, contingent on a valuation by an approved First Home Scheme valuer to ascertain an accurate amount due to be paid back.
While simultaneous utilisation of the Help to Buy Scheme and the First Home Scheme is feasible, it should be noted that the maximum First Home Scheme percentage provided is 20% when availing of the Help to Buy Scheme in the same transaction. If you do not avail of the Help to Buy Scheme, the First Home Scheme can provide up to 30% of the purchase price.
Should you wish to learn more about the Help to Buy Scheme, the First Home Scheme and the first steps in purchasing your first home, please call the office on 021 239 0620 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and a member of our team will be able to assist you.