On the Look-Out for a Cheap Mortgage? Turn to the Council

by Sylvia Pownall

Fingal County Council has become one of the first local authorities in the country to offer mortgages to first-time buyers at knock-down rates.

The council last week opened applications for the House Purchase Loan Scheme, which allows house hunters who’ve been rejected by banks to borrow money for a home.

Single applicants earning up to €50,000 a year and joint applicants earning a combined €75,000 a year are eligible to apply for the housing loan on properties valued up to €320,000.

Buyers can use the loan to purchase new or second-hand properties and can borrow up to 90% with fixed repayments over a 30-year period at a competitive rate of 2%.

The council’s chief executive Paul Reid, said the scheme would play a part in addressing one element of the housing crisis.

He added: “It will benefit buyers who don’t qualify for social housing but who also do not earn enough to access the housing market.”

The local authority’s director of housing, Margaret Geraghty, said it would be “significant” for middle-income earners who otherwise are finding it difficult to get a foot on the property ladder.

Cllr Malachy Quinn (SF) welcomed the initiative and said as a member of the housing committee he had continuously lobbied for “a break” for those in limbo – above the threshold for social housing, but unable to secure a mortgage.

He told Dublin Gazette: “The scheme offered by the council will go some way to address this issue, but the building of affordable housing and social housing remains a vital component.

“With proposals in place for mixed-tenure developments in Donabate, Hacketstown in Skerries as well as Castlelands in Balbriggan, an opportunity for development of sustainable communities in Fingal can only be a positive move by the council.”

Meanwhile, Cllr Tom O’Leary (FG) is forging ahead with efforts to bring a ‘public bank’ to Fingal for the first time.

A meeting between councillors and Germany’s Sparkasse heard the lender wants to open up to 10 regional banks in Ireland.

Lobbying for a branch in both Fingal and Dublin West, Cllr O’Leary said it could secure €250million in loans at favourable rates.

The German bank has a track record dating back more than 200 years and provide access to finance in recession, including mortgages at 1.1% over 30 years’ fixed rate.

A report from the Department of Finance will determine the outcome.

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