James Reams (26),a first-time buyer from Co Offaly, was looking to buy a three-bedroom house in his home county for €170,000 last January. At that time, he qualified for a 100 per cent mortgage but delays led him to change broker.

When his new broker, Enda O'Brien of The Mortgage Shop in Tullamore, tried to secure a new mortgage offer in June, James only qualified for a maximum loan of 95 per cent. By the time he received the formal offer, it had been cut again - to 92 per cent. James, who works in construction, has been forced to turn to his family to raise €15,000 for his deposit and legal fees. He said he was surprised at how quickly the lending rules changed.

Jacqueline Daly (25)and her partner, both first-time buyers, saw a new four-bedroom house they liked in Kilbeggan, Co Westmeath, last January. The sale price was €265,000. At that stage, they could have secured a 100 per cent mortgage but they delayed their purchase. By March, they could only qualify for 95 per cent, so they decided to start saving for a deposit. While saving, their lender reduced the cap on the loan again, to 92 per cent. The builder cut the price of the house to €225,000 three weeks ago, but the couple still have to raise €18,000 for their deposit. "Even though our budget fell €40,000, we still could not get a 100 per cent mortgage," says Jacqueline.

Gary Doyle (26),a teacher from Celbridge, Co Kildare, found a new three-bedroom house near Trim, Co Meath, that he liked. It was going for almost €323,000 but he was only eligible for a maximum mortgage of 92 per cent. However, Gary decided to put off buying as property prices were falling. Earlier this year, the builder dropped the price to €305,000, but Gary decided to wait and see how far prices would fall. The builder offered to cut the price to €285,000, but last month Gary decided not to buy. He was concerned he couldn't afford the mortgage on his own and he is going to apply for affordable housing next year. "It's more of an incentive to wait, especially the way house prices are dropping," he says