Housing crisis: ‘I do not really know what I am saving for’

Readers share their reaction to the Government’s latest plan to tackle housing crisis

The Government moved to clamp down on the bulk-buying of new homes with an increased stamp duty of 10% on certain multiple house purchases. Photograph: iStock

The Government moved to clamp down on the bulk-buying of new homes with an increased stamp duty of 10% on certain multiple house purchases. Photograph: iStock

 

The growing list of housing estates swept up by so-called cuckoo funds has increased the frustration of people who say they are locked out from the property market.

Last week, the Government moved to clamp down on the bulk-buying of new homes with an increased stamp duty of 10 per cent on certain multiple house purchases.

But apartments will be exempt from the higher stamp duty rate, leading to much criticism from Opposition parties. Purchases by local authorities and approved housing bodies will also be exempt.

Legislation is also planned to give local authorities the discretion to decide how much of a new development of houses and duplexes should be set aside for first-time buyers, ranging from 0-50 per cent.

We asked Irish Times readers if they believed the changes brought in by Government were sufficient and if they would increase their chances of being able to buy a home. We published some of the responses last week. Below are the responses we have received since.

Some entries have been edited for length.

Peter Kelly
Ireland

The latest plan is an effort to be seen to do something, rather than actually doing something that is genuinely helpful. It certainly does nothing for the tens and hundreds of thousands of people who are caught in a rent trap with literally no end in sight. This is more of the same tinkering around the edges crap that has defined the current Government and its approach to our property market. We need proper rent controls, site valuation taxes, dereliction taxes and a huge quantity of new social housing. When this country was on its knees in the 1930s it managed to build hundreds of thousands of homes – and we are told we can’t do the same today? It’s nonsense. There is only one way out of this – either emigrate or vote Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael out of power. I’ve come to the conclusion that this is the only way things will ever change. Otherwise, strap yourselves in for another five years plus of this nonsense.

Alan
Dublin

If not for Covid there would be mass protests on the streets against the abhorrent situation with housing in this country. The current Government and those that have come before have run housing into the ground. The supply has been critically low for years and next to nothing has been done. I think it’s quite clear that those in power have far too much skin in the game. There needs to be a vacant property tax introduced immediately. It is criminal the number of houses and apartments that lie empty, especially in Dublin. Investment funds can play puppet master over the entire rental sector and artificially inflate prices at will. The whole system is rotten in every aspect. The current government is living on borrowed time, there is huge change coming and honestly, good riddance to them.

Seán Feehan
Dublin

I am quite fortunate in that I earn a large salary, but that is because my job is very antisocial and requires multiple extended business trips per year meaning it’s hard to maintain a base/home in Ireland. Due to the amount of travelling I do, I spend a lot of time in many capital cities the world over, and am well aware of how far my salary would go and the value I would get in those cities. There are a handful of cities that are as expensive as Dublin, but really not many... and the fact of the matter is that I bought a tiny property that I have no intention of living in long term, and that isn’t big enough to start a family in with my partner . . . simply because a suitable property for us would cost €600,000. I am absolutely not willing to commit to a life sentence that a mortgage on such a property would destine me to. For comparison, have a look online and see what €600k will buy you in Amsterdam or Barcelona, then ask why Dublin is so different? I feel as if someone who is as fortunate as I am to have a decent salary, should then have the opportunity to buy a correspondingly decent property to my international peers. Instead, I am completely proved out of the market and would be forced to pay hundreds of thousands of euro more than is sensible.

I don’t think the current Government grasp how dangerous this moment is politically. There is an entire generation who have nothing to lose by voting in a government who will radically overhaul the property market.

All of this is happening because our property system is antiquated and not fit for purpose. It stifles business activity by preventing many businesses from even being able to start up, and simultaneously creates a huge split in society between the haves and the have nots. Covid will be a distant memory at the next election, but housing won’t. It was the big issue at the last election, and will be at the next... and in the intervening years it’s gotten significantly worse. Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil ignore this at their peril.

Tammy
Dublin

As a 40-year-old single woman, there is nothing to assist me in the new plan. I can’t understand how apartments in Dublin are not considered homes, I would happily call an apartment my home if I had the opportunity.

S Ryan
Cork

This “housing crisis” is housing policy by design. This system is not failing, it is benefitting a significant few who have the power to uphold it. Time and again I roll my eyes at the spin that accompanies everything “housing crisis” related. We need to wake up and smell the houseshares-for-pensioners that we are going to have to rent in in our old age. I’m 44 this year. My husband I returned to Ireland in 2009 with 20k deposit. Temp contract after temp contract after zero hours contract and finally a week’s notice that my job would be outsourced to India by a multinational tech firm made us upskill. However, we still live pay cheque to pay cheque renting a house on the edge of a satellite town in Cork- I see rolling hills out my back window. This is our fourth rental since 2009. Each time I’ve redecorated and called it home the landlords have sold the property and we move on. We delayed starting a family, had less children than planned and have begun to realise the joke is on us. However, we also realise, since this recent fund purchase of an entire Maynooth housing estate, the reality – that there is no crisis. This is housing policy by design. But this time round when we emigrate we will be educated and experienced. I don’t want this educated middle class poverty for our children with no hope in sight.

Ray Winters
Dublin

I am a landlord and I recently advertised a house for rent. I was looking for €2,750 and got a line of Hap applicants a mile long, all with €2,500 allowance from Dublin City Council. I was totally confused how someone on no income could afford to rent a €600k house. The reality is the Government don’t want to own social accommodation so relying on these Reits to buy up property, which they can then rent back through Hap at ridiculous rates. The side effect of this policy is pricing out all the folks that work, rent, and cannot afford to buy. The core of the problem is not enough cheap houses. They need to figure out how the can build reasonable houses or apartments for about 150k-200k in the major cities.

Johanna Galt
Blackrock, Dublin

I am a 28-year-old graduate architect. I live with my parents in a four-bed semi-D in Blackrock in Dublin. I house-share with my older sister (public servant, 30), her boyfriend (solicitor, 31) and my younger brother (solicitor, 25). We are all trying to save for deposits, so are attempting to live together in the house that we grew up in. No one is comfortable. We are all easy-going people, but the situation has changed our relationships, and everyone is now highly strung. My girlfriend and I recently separated, and I do not doubt that the housing situation was a factor (she was also living here). The median house price in this area is €615,000, which is around 20 times my salary. I do not really know what I am saving for – I don’t want to live in an exurban area, commuting everywhere by car and paying a mortgage for my whole life. If the State could only facilitate long-term, affordable renting in existing areas as a real option, with security of tenure, I wouldn’t mind not owning my home. I would put the extra money into a pension and would be fine later in life. It’s as if Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are so wedded to their conservative ideology of home ownership, no matter the economic or environmental price, that they reject the idea of renting (and living in apartments) as socialism. It will be their downfall. Reading about their “plans” has confirmed this. They just do not understand. They are toast.

Daragh Curtis
Dublin

I am on just over 100k a year, work in the tech sector. If the Government wants the tech savvy educated type in Ireland, then why have they made it impossible for well educated, high earners not to be able to afford a place of their own? I did some maths also on this 10 per cent stamp duty. On a house worth 400k this 10 per cent works out at 40k extra per house, which is essentially 20 months’ rent (at 2k a month rent) per house. This figure is hardly going to stop vulture funds considering that 40k is nothing to them.

Cian McKenna
Dublin

My idea of a “family home” is a large apartment in a vibrant town or city. With a private terrace, a shared garden, and a good park nearby. However, we don’t build these in Ireland. Because those in charge have never believed in urban living, they have baked the suburban, car-dependant, home-ownership model into both fiscal and planning policy, so that this is almost all we have built for decades. This bias is shown starkly by the most recent plans which protect suburban houses but leave apartments and urban centres to “the market”.

Tom Watson
Dublin

Absolutely not, in any way shape or form will this plan help me, or pretty much anybody. It smacks of paying lip service to but ultimately fobbing off the complaints of those locked out of housing. The 10 per cent stamp duty will be seen as a reason to set rents higher, and the limit of 10 house purchases at a time will just encourage the use of shell companies to get around it. Furthermore, excluding apartments from the plan is basically admitting that the Government does not view them as viable living options, and certainly not homes, despite the fact they are telling us to consider apartment living as a viable option.

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