Affordable housing scheme to help struggling buyers

A new affordable housing scheme to help struggling buyers in cities and targeted areas will be unveiled by the Government in the coming weeks.

This will be the latest scheme to give discounts to qualifying owner-occupiers — the last one gave Dublin purchasers homes at 35% below market rates but was scrapped in 2011.

The Government is strongly modelling the new scheme on a small housing co-operative which has sold 49 homes in Ballymun, Dublin, where prices started at €140,000 for families.

Details of this scheme come as Central Statistic Office figures released yesterday show there is no slowdown in house prices and rents. Residential prices went up 12.2% nationally in the year to August. Median prices in Dublin areas range from €301,000 in Fingal to €510,000 in Dun Laoghaire.

Speaking at the Construction Industry Federation conference at Croke Park, yesterday, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy said the new affordable scheme will be unveiled in the coming weeks. It is understood that buyers will qualify for the low-cost homes according to their income, while the units proposed will be in cities and high-pressure cost areas.

Under the last scheme, a local authority would buy homes, at discounts, from developers, and sell them to first-time buyers whose incomes were below certain thresholds.

Ó Cualann Cohousing Alliance this year built a small estate in Ballymun, with prices starting at €140,000 for two-bed houses, €160,000 for three-beds, rising to €199,000 for four-beds. Buyers must satisfy income limits and are also subject to a ‘clawback’ if they sell.

Mr Murphy said it is an “excellent” scheme and one which will inform how the new plans nationally are worked out. Mr Murphy also dismissed opposition claims that there were no affordable housing measures announced in the budget.

He said €50m in new funds was agreed in the budget for affordable building. Another €25m is already being used by local authorities to facilitate low-cost homes with housing agencies, he added. However, these funds are to facilitate local authorities and the building of services for developments. The money is not directly ring-fenced for affordable home purchases.

Separately, he confirmed changes to the trebling of commercial stamp duty will be looked at. There are questions about who will be exempt and how and when the new duty will apply at 6% on lands or property and whether a clawback measure will apply for mixed developments. The Government is expected to examine changes ahead of the Finance Billgoing through the Dáil.

Elsewhere, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe will tour the country next week in a bid to drum up support for the budget. He will visit Cork and Waterford on Monday, and Limerick and Galway on Friday, where public question-and-answer sessions will be held in local authority venues.


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