Rent-to-buy schemes hit by NAMA process, claims businessman

DESPITE the glut of empty houses around the country, there are virtually none available for sale to first-time buyers who want to rent to buy, it has been claimed.

Cork-based entrepreneur, Sean Power, who runs the website, maintains that he has a national database of 7,500 people who are seeking to avail of the initiative.

Mr Power said, however, that NAMA had stopped everything in its tracks and there was no incentive for banks or developers to look at other options for off-loading property.

He said he was in talks with foreign banks, receivers and some developers to try and procure properties.

Such is the stagnation of the system, Mr Power said, that only about 30 people had managed to buy a house through the scheme to date.

“There is essentially nothing happening in the banking system at the moment. There is an inertia because there is no credit available and all of the empty properties are gone into NAMA.”

Mr Power, who has been up and running for two and a half years, said the banks were not lending money, despite assurances to the contrary, and they were “cherry picking” who they were giving mortgages to.

“We come across people who are being denied mortgages all the time, but who are perfectly eligible.”

The scheme works with prospective home owners registering with the website.

“The customer tells us what their specific preferences are, where they want to buy, what kind of property and we collate that information and try to match them up with a buyer,” Mr Power said.

The Department of the Environment, meanwhile, indicated that a rent-to-buy scheme to sell-off affordable housing stock could be extended nationwide if it is successful.

The department has given Dublin City Council permission to become the first local authority to implement the scheme.

Based on similar schemes in the private sector, tenants agree a fixed purchase price with the council, and can rent their home for up to three years. If they opt to buy during that time, about 80% of rent paid will be taken off the price.


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