'Things have never been as bad': Young people being forced abroad by housing crisis

'Things Have Never Been As Bad': Young People Being Forced Abroad By Housing Crisis 'Things Have Never Been As Bad': Young People Being Forced Abroad By Housing Crisis
Paul Merriman, director of Ask Paul, said the State's housing system is "fundamentally broken" and will drive young people out of the country. Photo: PA Images
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Muireann Duffy

Ireland's housing market is "completely broken" and is blocking young people from getting on the property ladder, according to a certified financial planner.

Paul Merriman, director of AskPaul, told Breakingnews.ie the chance of a young person being able to buy a property is "slim-to-none", adding that "things have never been as bad".

Referencing a recent report from the Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland (BPFI) which found that the median total household income for First-Time Buyer (FTB) borrowers jumped to €77,000 in 2021, Merriman said "it’s officially the most expensive time for somebody to get on the property ladder".

The report found new mortgage customers need "significantly higher incomes" compared to the past, with First Time Buyer applicants earning up to €60,000 per annum now representing just 13 per cent of total approvals.


Earlier this week, the housing crisis was described as the "longest and most severe" the country has ever seen as Raise the Roof announced plans for a series of regional and national public meetings on the matter over the coming weeks.

The general secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) Phil Ní Sheaghdha also warned that the shortage of affordable accommodation will impact the provision of public services, as students and essential workers can no longer afford the high rents in cities.

This issue has been bubbling for the best part of a decade, Merriman said, with young people now "paying for the mistakes of the Celtic Tiger".

He added that Ireland is turning into a rental market without providing adequate protections for long-term renters.

"Irish people are brought up to buy a property, settle down, have kids, contribute to society, have a good income – that’s ok, but you rip the soul of that, which is the family home, out of their reach, what else have they got? What do they go to work for?"

"There’s no plan to help these people. It’s officially gone too far."


While he acknowledged not all of the issues which have worsened the housing crisis were the doing of Irish policy-makers - such as Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic - the issue has been allowed to continue for too long.

Merriman said there has been a "systematic change in how we house people", which has kept people off the property ladder and left them with little option but to rent.

Advising that we return to Ireland's traditional housing model, one which focuses on enabling people to buy or build their own home, he said planning laws should be changed to get rid of build-to-rent schemes.

"I think you should be building to sell or to become a property owner, unless we improve renters’ protections – it’s one or the other," he explained.

While saving for a deposit, securing a mortgage, and finding or building your 'forever home' was once within the reach of 20-somethings, Merriman said for the vast majority of young people, those milestones have become almost entirely unattainable.

"The issue for young people is that every month and every year that goes by, the situation is getting direly worse."

'Don't bother'

Merriman's advice for young people is an equal split of freeing and terrifying, telling 20-somethings thinking of getting into the market to "literally just don't bother".

"If you’re in your 20s, you shouldn’t even be thinking about a mortgage because you’re going to be head-wrecked by the process, you’re going to put your hopes and dreams on a house, and there’s just no point," he added.

While this may be different for people who have land, or who have family willing to help, he said home-ownership is simply not realistic for most young people right now.

"This system is fundamentally broken, and it will be for the next decade.

"Go, have a ball, spend your money. Come back in 10-15 years and hope it’s better."

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