‘Home ownership now off the table for many’ - Average age of first-time buyer rises to 34

Those aged in their 20s and early 30s are mainly absent from the market

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Image: REA

The average age of a first-time home buyer has risen by five years over the past decade, to 34.

In 2006 the average first-time buyer in Ireland was approximately 29-years-old - but according the Real Estate Alliance (REA), this figure has increased by 17% and is still rising.

The REA is a countrywide group of property professionals with local knowledge, and a network of 55 offices.

Its index reports that the age profile has risen from average of 33 in the past 12 months, with a combination of factors barring young people into the housing market.

Agents around Ireland are reporting that first-time buyers aged in their 20s and early 30s are now mainly absent from the market for properties priced over €160,000.

“A definite two-tier system has emerged over the past year nationwide, with €160,000 emerging as the breaking point for interest from buyers in that age group - ruling out most properties in Dublin,” said REA chairman Michael O’Connor.

Another big factor in the first-time buyers market is said to be the recent strength of buyers from outside Ireland - who have been living and working here for over a decade and are now putting down roots and buying houses.

Eastern Europe buyers

“In areas such as Carlow, REA agents are reporting that 30% of first-time buyers are now from Eastern Europe - a percentage that has grown rapidly over the past two years,” Mr O’Connor added.

“The biggest factor influencing the market this year has been the Central Bank deposit rules which have created a two-tier system, ruling out home ownership for many young people due to over-restrictive guidelines”, he said.

The REA claims the Central Bank requirements, combined with higher rents, has made it increasingly difficult for young people to save deposits - especially in Dublin.

“House ownership is now off the table for many couples earning average salaries, with their only hope of purchase now coming from an injection of outside help, usually from close relatives”, the report adds.

“From a Dublin price perspective, the rules don’t make sense, with the combination of the deposit rates and the multiplier falling far short of our average three-bed semi price in Dublin city and county of €334,000”.

The index says: “Many potential purchasers are in rented accommodation and are having difficulty in paying high rents and saving for a deposit for houses that they would otherwise comfortably afford”.

“While we welcomed the introduction of guidelines from the Central Bank, we feel that they are not reflecting the reality of the market”.
While the availability of mortgage finance is cited as an issue country-wide.

Michael O'Connor told Newstalk Lunchtime the market is currently stuck in a stalemate.