Punters log in for new State loan scheme


The new Home Choice Loans scheme unveiled by Minister Lenihan on Tuesday prompted a flurry of activity yesterday.

An extension of the local authority mortgage scheme, it will be operated by a number of selected local authorities (Dublin and Cork city councils and Galway and Kilkenny county councils). What is notable about the new scheme is that potential buyers can borrow up to €285,000 to a maximum of 92 per cent of the value of the property purchased. It is interesting to note that the scheme only applies to first-time buyers purchasing newly-built homes on the open market. Borrowers must also earn more than €40,000 to qualify.

By 3pm yesterday the scheme's shiny new website (www.homechoiceloan.ie) had more than 1,300 unique visitors and staff at a new information phone line fielded some 70 calls.

The scheme was billed by the minister as aid to would-be purchasers who had failed to secure finance through normal routes. Contributors to property forum website Property Pin (www.thepropertypin.com) saw it in a different light. "Homechoice - the government sub-prime mortgage shop" was one of a number of threads where contributors vented their spleen at the "€1.65 million builder bailout" scheme and the accompanying Government equity initiative.