Irish homeowners older getting on property ladder than in UK

Number of under-30s buying home in Ireland has plummeted but has risen in UK

Irish property buyers are significantly older today than they were back in 2004, according to a new study that reveals the number of first-time buyers who are younger than 30 has shrunk to 29 per cent, as it takes putative homeowners longer to get on the ladder.

However, across the Irish Sea, more than half of home buyers, even in London, managed to buy their first home before the age of 30.

A new report from the Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland, UK and Irish Housing Markets: A First-Time Buyer Perspective, prepared in conjunction with UK Finance, a trade association, shows that millennials are seriously struggling to get on the housing ladder in Ireland.

For example in 2016, the biggest cohort of first-time buyers in Ireland were in the 31-35 years age group, accounting for 40 per cent of all transactions, while those aged 30 and under accounted for just 29 per cent.


This contrasts significantly with 2004, when more than 60 per cent of FTBs were 30 or younger – even in Dublin.

In 2016, for example, just 2 per cent of first-time buyers in Dublin were younger than 25, compared with almost 20 per cent back in 2004.

According to the report, the age differential reflects strong net inward migration into the UK and significant net emigration from Ireland.

“This has not only artificially reduced the number of potential new households in Ireland, it has also resulted in an older [first-time buyer] cohort than before,” the report says.

Fortysomething jump

The Irish figures shows a significant increase in the 41-45 age group who are buying a house for the first time. They accounted for about 7 per cent of all buyers in Dublin, compared with about 3 per cent back in 2004, with a similar proportion noted nationally.

Across the UK about 50 per cent of homeowners in 2016 were 30 or younger – and this was up on 2004. Those in the 41-45 age group accounted for little more than 5 per cent of all buyers, and some 20 per cent of buyers were 25 or younger.

Even in London, where house prices have rocketed, about 40 per cent of homeowners were 30 or younger, while about 10 per cent of buyers in London were under 25, and this is only slightly down on 2004.

The differential in ages may, in part, be explained by house prices. According to the research, almost 60 per cent of first-time buyers in the UK bought a house worth £200,000 or less – in Ireland on the other hand, just 40 per cent did, while more than 20 per cent paid £300,000 or more.

The data also shows that interest-only mortgages are very much a thing of the past for Irish first-time buyers, with no such mortgages reported in 2016, compared with about 5 per cent back in 2004.

Fiona Reddan

Fiona Reddan

Fiona Reddan is a writer specialising in personal finance and is the Home & Design Editor of The Irish Times