Young couples are giving up on the idea of owning their own home, it was claimed tonight.
As average house prices for first time buyers broke through the €250,000 barrier, the Government was urged to take immediate action.
Labour Party Environment Spokesman Eamon Gilmore said the figures totally exposed the myth that the housing market has calmed.
“The housing market is showing no sign whatsoever of slowing down, with prices escalating ever further upward,” he said.
“With house prices now rising by 10% annually, at between three and four times the rate of inflation, there is a need for a total shift in government policy.”
The Dun Laoghaire TD said that in urban areas, especially Dublin, many young couples have simply given up on the idea of being able to buy their own home.
“Insufficient social and affordable housing and the Government’s failure to meet its commitments in this regard have exacerbated the situation,” he said.
The ESRI/Permanent TSB House Price Index showed the average house price for first-time buyers has hit €251,000, a massive increase on the national average of just €75,000 10 years ago.
Fine Gael Environment Spokesman Fergus O’Dowd said young first-time buyers have to contend not only with high prices but also poor infrastructure and amenities due to bad Government planning and inaction.
“The current minister and his predecessor have proven woefully incapable of getting to grips with the problem,” he said.
“Many new house-owners have to sit in traffic for hours due to the lack of road infrastructure, fork out thousands a year as there are not near enough childcare places, fight for school places as new housing developments did not take account of the effect on schools and deal with the absence of broadband in many parts of the country. And all this for only €250,000 on average!”
Mr O’Dowd called for the immediate implementation of Fine Gael’s three-point plan to help first-time buyers:
:: Abolish stamp duty on homes up to the value of €400,000 for first time buyers.
:: Establish an SSIA-type scheme where the state would contribute €1 for every €3 saved over two years towards a deposit for a house.
:: Frontload mortgage interest relief to the first seven years of the mortgage, giving the relief when it is needed most.
Labour’s Mr Gilmore said special measures are now required to deal with the problem.
“Intervention in the market at government level is now required rather than the laissez-faire approach that has guided Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats policies for the last nine years,” he added.