Two-thirds want Central Bank's mortgage lending rules relaxed

Two-thirds want Central Bank's mortgage lending rules relaxed

The Central Bank has recently said that the rules will remain in place for at least another year, but it is undertaking a review looking at how the system is working, with input from the public forming part of the process.

Almost two-thirds of people believe the major requirement in the Central Bank's mortgage lending rules should be relaxed, while half believe the deposit needed to do so should be lowered.

In the years following the financial crash of 2009, the regulator for financial services in Ireland sought ways of ensuring such a crisis was prevented from happening again, and, in 2015, brought in rules to limit mortgage seekers to borrowing 3.5 times their income.

Another rule is that first-time buyers have at least a 10% deposit, increasing to 20% for second-time buyers.

Consumer information and comparison website Bonkers.ie surveyed more than 1,000 adults through research firm Red C, with the results finding a significant desire among Irish people for the Central Bank's rules to be softened.

Some 64% say they are in favour of mortgage seekers being allowed borrow more than 3.5 times their income, provided they can demonstrate their ability to repay, compared to 18% against, Bonkers.ie found.

People in their mid-30s to mid-40s were especially keen on the rules being relaxed, the survey showed. The rules around deposits are also disliked by a majority of people, albeit a smaller cohort than those who want the 3.5 times income rule changed.

Some 53% of people agree that the minimum deposit requirement of 10% for first-time buyers is too high, and should be lowered, compared to 27% who disagree, Bonkers.ie said.

There was a sizeable contingent who want the deposit requirement scrapped altogether - 41% - if other financial stability was shown by the would-be buyer, the survey showed.

The Central Bank has recently said that the rules will remain in place for at least another year, but it is undertaking a review looking at how the system is working, with input from the public forming part of the process.

Head of Communications at bonkers.ie, Daragh Cassidy said that while nobody wants a return to the reckless lending of the past, the current rules while well-intentioned were proving cumbersome.

“They would appear to be helping contribute to a dysfunctional housing market as in almost every area of the country it is now cheaper to buy a property than it is to rent - which should never be the case - as people can’t get a mortgage of sufficient size or save up the deposit.”

“However, we need to be careful about what we wish for. Given the limited supply of housing at the moment, any loosening of credit rules without a corresponding increase in the level of housing output, could simply lead to an increase in property prices, leaving prospective homebuyers in no better a position."

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