Can I be economical with the truth of first-time buyer status?

Q&A: Dominic Coyle answers your personal finance queries

Home purchase is one of the biggest investments in our lives. Photograph: Getty

Home purchase is one of the biggest investments in our lives. Photograph: Getty

 

I lived in UK for a few years studying and then working. In 2010 I jointly bought a house with my girlfriend. We sold it in 2013 to come home. I’m now trying to buy a house in Ireland. The conundrum is obvious – to buy a house the cheapest way possible with my wife and (now) two kids.

I want to utilise the first-time buyer route, but obviously don’t want to mention I previously owned a house. The banks and Revenue will want to know what my personal circumstances are, but why wouldn’t I choose not to disclose this information and try and avail of the loan-to-value rates and first-time buyer rebate?

It seems to me that all the odds are stacked against me through no fault of my own in relation to deposit levels and general regulatory stipulations? What does Revenue actually do when it comes to checking one’s history?

Mr JN, email

A. Don’t do it. I know it seems attractive and we always wonder about whether Revenue “will ever know” but there are loads of reasons not to.

Top of the list is that lying on a mortgage loan application could see your entire loan refused or withdrawn, with little prospect of securing a mortgage elsewhere.

Banks do check information and your UK mortgage would certainly be on a credit register somewhere over there. Trying to create a fictitious personal history that doesn’t include the UK will only compound the lie and your ability to sustain it. Apart from anything, you say in your letter (which I have cut for space reasons) one of your children was born there. That’s a lot of personal detail to hide.

Any fraud on the Revenue could land you in court, and with significant financial penalties.

And, when it comes to the Revenue, there is considerably enhanced sharing of information across national borders in recent times, specifically designed to stop people cheating on taxes (and tax reliefs).

In any case, the simple fact is that you’re not a first-time buyer and have no reason to expect preferential treatment over thousands of others in a similar position. It not a matter of fault: you made a decision to buy a home, which you felt was good at the time and that’s that.

Home purchase is one of the biggest investments in our lives. You don’t want to imperil it, or be looking over your shoulder all the time. And, yes, Revenue probably will find out even if your bank doesn’t.

Send your queries to Dominic Coyle, Q&A, The Irish Times, 24-28 Tara Street, Dublin 2, or by email to dcoyle@irishtimes.com. This column is a reader service and is not intended to replace professional advice

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