New mortgage rules allow relief for first-time buyers

Banks to be able to lend 90% up to €220,000 as phase-in plans abandoned

The new 80% loan to value limit will be introduced for most borrowers, in a significant tightening of the current lending regime. Photograph: Frank Miller

The new 80% loan to value limit will be introduced for most borrowers, in a significant tightening of the current lending regime. Photograph: Frank Miller

 

New mortgage rules announced by the Central Bank will allow first-time buyers some relief from the new 80 per cent loan to value limit.

For first time buyers, banks will be able to lend 90 per cent up to a value of €220,000. Above that the 80 per cent limit will apply.

The new rules, which are effective immediately, have been announced this evening.

The move will significantly reduce the amount of deposit which first-time buyers have to save when buying a home.

However, the 80 per cent limit will be introduced for most borrowers, in a significant tightening of the current regime, designed to protect banks and borrowers from getting into difficulties with future lending.

The Central Bank Commission decided on the new rules at a meeting on Tuesday. Non first-time home buyers will generally be restricted to borrowing 80 per cent of the property’s value.

A 70 per cent limit will apply for banks lending to investors purchasing buy-to-let properties.

Plans to phase in the new rules have been abandoned, with the higher limit on borrowings up to €220,000 designed to address concerns about the impact on first time buyers.

Under the existing rules – which normally allow a bank to lend 90 per cent of the value of the house – a first-time buyer would require a €35,000 deposit on a home valued at €350,000. Under the new rules this will rise to €48,000.

Had the 80 per cent limit applied to the entire loan, the deposit required would have been €70,000.

The changes follow a consultation period on the proposed new lending rules. Original proposals to impose an 80 per cent cap on all new home-buyers had met a wave of opposition.

The Central Bank said a certain number of loans – up to 15 per cent of loans by value for principal dwelling – could breach the new limits, offering some flexibility to lenders and borrowers.

Housing loans for borrowers who are in negative equity and who are obtaining a mortgage for a new property are not subject to the LTV limits and will be assessed separately.

The rules will also mean that people buying homes will face a limit that loans should not exceed 3.5 times income.

Again some exceptions will be allowed on this. Switcher mortgage loans and housing loans for the restructuring of mortgages in arrears are not covered by the regulations.

Central Bank governor Patrick Honohan said the measures would reduce financial vulnerabilities for lenders and borrowers.