Scrapping help-to-buy scheme 'could lead to rush' in number of first-time buyers

Fianna Fáil says "we shouldn't have to wait for a budget" to implement changes to the scheme

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Scrapping the 'help-to-buy' scheme could lead to a rush of first-time buyers, according to a new report.

Website MyHome claims there could be a flood of applicants trying to get in before the scheme is phased out.

The new Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy is said to be 'actively considering' scrapping the scheme - which was aimed at getting first-time buyers on the property ladder - in the next budget.

The scheme offers a rebate of up to €20,000 for those buying or building a home for the first time.

The MyHome report found that prices of properties surged by 5% in the second quarter of the year.

Conall MacCoille - chief economist at Davy and author of the report - observed: “Did ‘Help-to-Buy’ contribute to house price inflation? What evidence there is suggests it did, as the price of newly built homes is rising much faster than existing dwellings.

"Of course we have also seen a pickup in lending – in Q1 the average mortgage loan to first time buyers rose by 9.5% to €194K – and this must in part reflect the relaxation by the Central Bank of mortgage lending rules late last year."

Fianna Fáil's Barry Cowen, meanwhile, says Fine Gael are not acting fast enough.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Deputy Cowen argued: "We shouldn't have to wait for a budget in order to implement initiatives, plans and policies which will address this situation.

"Emergency legislation can allow these measures to be done as soon as possible."