Can I regain first-time buyer status by walking away from rights to home?

Q&A: Dominic Coyle

There is no turning the clock back on first-time buyer status

I was married but separated eight years ago. My ex-wife and I took out a mortgage to completely renovate our home, which had been left to my ex-wife by her parents.

My question is this, I have left the home completely to my ex-wife. I have taken no settlement from her and have signed over any rights I have to the property. Does this entitle me to retain first-time buyer status or does the fact that I was named on the mortgage mean i have lost first-time buyer status?

Mr DL, email

Breakups are always difficult, even where couples do the very best to keep disruption and discord to the minimum. But there are, inevitably, consequences and these sometimes do not become apparent until further down the line.


Having walked away from any claim you might have on the marital home, you were always going to be in a position where you had to organise your own accommodation and it was always likely that you would, at some point, look to buy again.

Unfortunately, as with many things in life, there is no turning the clock back on first-time buyer status. Once you have acquired an interest in any property you can never claim first-time buyer status again. And, as many of the new Irish are discovering, that applies even if the property in which you had an interest was in another country entirely.

The fact that the property was not bought, but was gifted to your wife (and you), and that the only reason you took out a loan was for renovation makes no difference. Had it been a personal loan, you would still have qualified but as it was a mortgage loan, you fall outside the parameters of first-time buyer status for good.

This is the case even if, as in your case, you have received no benefit from that interest. Essentially, you can only ever be a first-time buyer once.

Please send your queries to Dominic Coyle, Q&A, The Irish Times, 24-28 Tara Street, Dublin 2, or email This column is a reader service and is not intended to replace professional advice