The First Home Scheme for first-time buyers and the application process, explained

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Q: I heard about a new program to help first-time buyers who can’t afford to buy a home. Can you tell me more?

. The First Home Scheme (FHS) is part of the ‘Housing for All Strategy’ and has just been launched in partnership between the State and three of Ireland’s retail banks. The objective is to fill the financing gap of eligible first-time buyers (FTB) between their deposit, their mortgage and the price of new housing.

Housing eligible for the program will be subject to area-based price caps for houses and apartments based on open market prices. Wexford, for example, has a cap of €300,000.

The scheme will be available to FTB seeking to purchase a newly built primary private residence in a private development anywhere in the country. The program will be available to eligible first-time buyers. There will be a limited number of exceptions for non-first time buyers, in line with the “Fresh Start” principle announced in “Home for All”.

The application process:

1. Visit www.firsthomescheme.ie

2. Apply. You will need your Principal Mortgage Approval (AIP).

3. Receive your certificate of eligibility.

4. Upload your Letter of Mortgage Offer (LOO) into the system.

5. Your lawyer uploads signed contracts, etc. into the system to withdraw funds alongside your mortgage.

FAQs

Q. I hope to build a house rather than buy. Am I eligible?

A. No. Self-builds are excluded from the FHS, but this must be reviewed in 12 months.

Q. Who are considered first-time buyers under the program?

A. A person who has not previously purchased or built a dwelling in the State for his occupancy.

A person who does not own or have the right to benefit from an estate or an interest in a dwelling in the State or elsewhere and who has the right to reside in the State.

Q. Who will provide program information and confirm whether or not I am eligible?

A. The BCM Third Party Operator will provide the Customer with all required information in relation to the Program and whether or not the Customer is eligible. Customers can find this information on the FHS website.

Q. How does Equity Share work?

A. The assistance provided will be in the form of a percentage of equity in the home equal to the financing gap between the maximum mortgage available and the cost of a new home. You can benefit from financial support of up to 20% to buy these houses (or 30% maximum if the purchase aid is not used).

Q. What is the interest rate on the loan?

A. The First Home Scheme is not a loan as principal repayments are not required and it is not a regulated product, however there are service charges after five years as shown in the table below – below:

Year %

0 -5 0%

6 – 15 1.75%

16 – 29 2.15%

Year 30+ 2.85%

Q. Can I get the Buyer’s Assistance Program and the First Home Program at the same time?

A. Yes, you can benefit from financial support of up to 30% to buy these houses.

When a person wishes to benefit from the purchase assistance program at the same time, he can benefit from 20% of the First Home program and 10% of the purchase assistance (or 30% maximum if HTB does not is not used).

Q. Do I have to have the full 10% deposit anyway?

A. Yes. You must have the 10% deposit and can then qualify for up to 30% FHS which would reduce your loan to value (LTV) with the Bank to 60%.

For second buyers classified as FTB under the program, they must have a 20% down payment as per Bank rules.

By Philip Cullen of Southeast Mortgages & Financial Services

This article is intended to provide information, not advice.

Always do your own research and/or seek advice from a regulated financial broker before acting on anything contained in this article.

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