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First-time buyer Haven for couples where one partner has already had a mortgage

Q&A: Dominic Coyle answers your personal finance questions

Haven Mortgages is prepared to consider such cases. Photograph: Alan Betson

Last week, we had a letter from a woman who was checking to see if there was any way she, who has never owned a property, could avail of first-time buyer status given that her husband had previously owned an apartment.

I said confidently that, as a married couple, all lenders would assess them jointly and therefore his previous property ownership would disbar her – even though she had the earnings and savings to qualify for the required mortgage on her own.

Since then, I have had a couple of emails from financial advisers alerting me that the situation is no longer as cut and dried. Belinda McCauley, mortgage manager at Money Plus, which is based in Sligo but has a Dublin office, and Andriú Mac Lochlainn, a regional head of financial planning at Murray & Spelman, which has offices in Naas and in Galway, both tell me that at least one lender is prepared to consider such cases.

Haven Mortgages was originally set up by EBS Building Society but is now a specialist unit within AIB offering home loans through brokerages as against the direct channel with the bank.

It apparently does consider applications from lenders in the reader, Ms P.O’F.’s, position although both advisers warn that the criteria for acceptance are quite restrictive.

Apparently, they will insist that the applying spouse is not only financially independent but that they are able to carry their spouse as a dependent when affordability is considered. I’m conscious that, in Ms P. O’F’s, case, her husband is also financially independent – and apparently this is also likely to be a requirement – but it appears that, for the purpose of assessing the affordability of this mortgage that might not be taken into consideration.

The applicant will similarly have to demonstrate that they have the financial muscle to provide for any dependent children.

Not surprisingly, if a mortgage was secured, the property would have to be registered solely in the name of the borrower, not both spouses. If all that pans out, then I am told that the borrowing spouse could avail of first-time buyer status.

As you can see, the conditions are pretty onerous but, in a world where no other lender appears even to consider such loans, it is at least an option and one that people in our reader’s position might like to consider.

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

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