Almost half of help-to-buy scheme recipients had finances for mortgage

Close to half of the first-time homebuyers who used the Government’s help-to-buy scheme already had the deposit for a mortgage, figures from the Revenue Commissioners show.

An analysis of the figures by the Irish Times found more than 40 per cent of buyers already had a deposit, with most rebates under the scheme used to buy homes in excess of €300,000.

The figures show that 7,928 of the 19,478 approved claims to date were made by households that had a loan-to-value ratio of less than 85 per cent. This means they already had a deposit of at least 10 per cent.

The figures show that many people who are getting it don’t need it.

The scheme was introduced in 2016 with the aim to stimulate the supply of more affordable homes within a certain price range and assist first-time buyers in getting a deposit.

Until recently it provided tax rebates to first-time buyers of up to €20,000 or 5 per cent of a property’s value for homes priced at €500,000 or less.

The relief was increased last month as part of the July stimulus programme to €30,000 or 10 per cent of the property value, whichever is the higher.

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien said this would help “thousands more people get on to the property ladder”.

However, critics say the scheme benefits households at the higher end of the income distribution and supports high prices.

“The figures show that many people who are getting it don’t need it,” Sinn Féin’s housing spokesman Mr Ó Broin said.

He also questioned whether State supports should be used to help people buy homes that are above the median national house price.