Any incentives for first-time buyers with an eye on a second-hand home?

Q&A: Dominic Coyle

 

My husband and I are both first-time buyers in the process of signing contracts on our new home. It is a second-hand house that was built in 2013. As first-time buyers but purchasing a second-hand home, are we eligible for the help to buy scheme?

Ms SC, e-mail

The help-to-buy scheme is very useful to first-time buyers trying to pull together a deposit, but it is quite tightly configured. And one of its main rules is that the home being purchased must be newly built. This is designed to encourage builders to get back into the market as the current rate of building is not remotely sufficient to provide a stable housing market.

Of course, that’s not much use to you.

You note in your letter that, in your part of the country, much of the limited new housing stock has “issues”, and that is certainly a problem. There is little point claiming a rebate of up to €20,000 or 5 per cent of the value of your home – whichever is the lower – if that home is in the wrong place or otherwise encumbered. No young couple or family wants to start life in a new home in which they cannot be comfortable.

A possible alternative for you is to consider building your own home. That would qualify you for the tax rebate but, of course, it may not be a practical option depending on your finances and other circumstances.

The bottom line is that, in your position where you are signing contracts on a home that is not new, you will not be entitled to avail of the help-to-buy scheme. Even if it was built only three years ago, as long as someone else has previously owned and lived in the property, you fall outside the rules. However, if by some quirk, the home was never actually occupied, you might still be able to benefit from the scheme.

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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