Will the new first-time buyer plan push up house prices?

Smart Money: Plan for shared equity scheme proving controversial

The crunch factor in the Irish housing market is lack of supply – around 20,000 new homes were built last year, but we need 30,000 plus. Photograph: iStock

The crunch factor in the Irish housing market is lack of supply – around 20,000 new homes were built last year, but we need 30,000 plus. Photograph: iStock

Sparks are flying between the Government and Opposition on the proposed help-to-buy scheme, a part of the Affordable Housing Bill currently before the Dáil.The Government said the scheme, under which the State will take a stake of up to 30 per cent in a new property, is an essential measure to help first-time buyers. However, a range of economists have warned that its main impact will be to push up house prices. What are the key arguments?

The scheme

The shared equity scheme is being introduced by Darragh O’Brien, the Minister for Housing. It proposes that the State will take an equity stake of up to 30 per cent in qualifying homes, though the Minister has said the average will be around 20 per cent. This reduces the amount of mortgage needed by the buyer, aiming to close the gap for people who earn too much to qualify for social housing schemes but still can’t afford to buy.

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