Average age of first-time buyers in Ireland rises to 34

Buyers in their 20s and early 30s absent from the market for properties over €160k

The average age of first-time buyers in Ireland has risen by five years to 34 over the past decade, according to Real Estate Alliance (REA).

In 2006 the average first-time buyer in Ireland was approximately 29 years old, according REA, but this figure has since increased by 17 per cent and is still rising.

The estate agency group said agents around Ireland are reporting that first-time buyers in their twenties and early thirties are now mainly absent from the market for properties priced over €160,000.

“A definite two-tier system has emerged over the past year nationwide, with €160,000 emerging as the breaking point for interest from buyers in that age group – ruling out most properties in Dublin,” REA chairman Michael O’Connor said.

Mr O’Connor said the introduction of the Central Bank’s requirements, combined with higher rents, has made it increasingly difficult for young people to save deposits, especially in Dublin.

“House ownership is now off the table for many couples earning average salaries, with their only hope of purchase now coming from an injection of outside help, usually from close relatives.”

He said a couple on a combined average industrial wage income of €74,000 can borrow 3.5 times their income, making a total of €259,000.

“From a Dublin price perspective, the rules don’t make sense, with the combination of the deposit rates and the multiplier falling far short of our average three-bed semi price in Dublin city and county of €334,000.”

The group said another huge factor in the first-time buyer market has been the recent strength of buyers from outside Ireland who have been typically living and working here for over a decade now putting down roots and buying houses.

“In areas such as Carlow, REA agents are reporting that 30 per cent of first-time buyers are now from Eastern Europe, a percentage that has grown rapidly over the past two years,” said Mr O’Connor.