Incentive payments for first-time buyer will apply for new builds only

Incentive payments for first-time buyers to purchase newly built homes will be finalised for the budget.

Housing Minister Simon Coveney confirmed the package for first-time buyers would “not fuel” the existing property market. New buyers will also not get sums to buy second-hand homes, he indicated.

His comments came as he launched a €25m scheme to regenerate the Dolphin Housing flats complex in Dublin.

Dolphin House was one of Ireland’s first social housing projects in the 1950s, relocating families from the inner city into more social housing on the outskirts. A previously planned regeneration of the flats for €16m did not proceed.

The planned funding will help build 100 social housing units within two years as part of phase one. Up to 400 units will be developed over an eight-year period.

Mr Coveney said funding for the regeneration of St Teresa Gardens and Devaney Gardens in Dublin was also to be decided this year.

Dolphin Regeneration Board chairman Fergus Finlay welcomed the funds. He said the commitment was a “fresh start” for families in the community.

During his visit to Dolphin House, Mr Coveney said: “Many of these communities may have felt, over the last eight or nine years, that they have been forgotten or neglected by the government and we’re trying to reverse that now.”

Following on from the Government’s action plan for housing launch on Tuesday, Mr Coveney shed light on a first-time buyer’s payment.

After reports it may be as much as €10,000, he said the top-up was yet to be decided.

He said there would be a “strong package” in the budget for first-time buyers, which will be backdated to this week.

“Whatever we do, it will be on new houses to ensure that we are encouraging a dramatic increase in supply of new houses for first-time buyers. It’s not a grant,” he said.

“Anything we do can’t simply fuel the existing property market. We need to increase the stock of new houses that we have.

“There’s no point in giving first-time buyers the capacity to spend more on second-hand houses and not have any increase in those numbers. That will simply drive up the price of a house, which is bad news for everybody.”

Department of Environment sources says no decision had been made to cap the payment. Furthermore, officials have not decided if there will be different rates for buyers in Dublin and those outside the capital. A spokesman for Finance Minister Michael Noonan said the payment would need to be “affordable”.

The intention of only incentivising the purchase of newly built properties is to help drive the building industry. Mr Coveney has already said the payment will be a tax rebate but it is understood that this could be combined with a top-up subsidy for buyers.

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