’Little chance’ for minimum wage workers to get mortgage for one-bed apartment

’Little chance’ for minimum wage workers to get mortgage for one-bed apartment

Most individual wage earners in Ireland would not meet the criteria to apply for a mortgage for a one-bed apartment anywhere in Dublin, while a full-time minimum wage earner would have “little chance” of getting a mortgage for the same type of property in Cork, Galway, or Limerick cities, writes Stephen Rogers.

That is according to research by an economic think-tank, the Nevin Economic Research Institute (NERI) which examined rent and asking prices in relation to the wages of a selection of representative workers.

A separate study by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) claims that it would take people on an average income up to 270 years to earn what the chief executive of some companies make in one year.

The ICTU report also found that some CEOs had pay increases of up to 100% between 2015 and 2016 along with a near doubling of cash bonuses for some. Its finds are based on the remuneration for chief executives in 20 of the largest companies listed on the Irish Stock Exchange, along with CEO pay at the 12 largest commercial state companies.

One of the report’s authors, Peter Rigney, said that if the trend is left unchecked “it will inevitably lead to greater levels of inequality across society”.

“To that end we need to see greater transparency and accountability around senior executive pay and remuneration packages,” he said.

NERI researcher Ciarán Nugent based his study around the fact that the national median disposable, net, or after-tax wage is up by just under 8% since 2012 and is now at approximately €2,087 per month while the take-home pay of a full-time minimum wage worker has increased by about 10% (now at €1,490).

He said that is against an almost 60% rise in average rents and 40% growth in asking prices for residential properties in the same period. The biggest increases have been in the Dublin area, followed by Cork and Galway.

His paper finds that, given central bank rules on lending, getting a mortgage as a first-time buyer for a one-bedroom apartment would be highly unlikely in all but two out of 25 Dublin areas, based on the wages of the median Irish employee.

“There is little chance for any full-time minimum wage worker, eligible for a maximum mortgage of €65,656 to buy a one-bed in Dublin, Cork, Galway or Limerick cities,” said Dr Rigney, adding that the average one-bed apartment is at 2.7, 2.6, and 1.9 times the gross pay of even a median worker over 35 in Cork, Galway, and Limerick respectively.

“The data shows that the cost of renting a one-bedroom apartment anywhere in Dublin is at least 50% of the net pay of the median Irish wage earner and as such is a higher proportion for 50% of all Irish employees,” said Mr Nugent.

“For two median earners renting a three-bed semi-d, the cost anywhere in Dublin is a minimum of 35% of take-home pay.”

He said that, in Cork City, two full-time minimum wage employees pay about 30% of their €2,980 take-home pay on rent for a two-bed. For the median waged employee, the proportion is about 25% “and much more manageable”.

Mr Nugent said there are now 460,000 adult children living at home in Ireland — twice as many as in 2006.

“The average age for first-time buyers is continuing to rise steadily,” he said. “Census 2016 showed that 35 is now the age at which homeownership becomes the majority tenure status compared to 26 in 1991 and 28 as recently as 2006.”

- Irish Examiner


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