Call for Help-to-Buy Scheme review as house prices soar

Property prices rise are up by nearly 11%

Call for Help-to-Buy Scheme review as house prices soar

A Sherry Fitzgerald property sign in Dublin | Image:

Fianna Fáil spokesperson on housing Barry Cowen is calling for an independent review of the Help-to-Buy Scheme to be carried out.

His comments come after new Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures showed that residential property prices recorded their fastest growth in almost two years.

The average cost of a home is €245,000, and this rises to €400,000 in Dublin.

However prices actually increased more outside of the capital, with a 13.2% rise in those 12 months.

The biggest hike was in houses in the west of the country, with a 19.8% jump in the cost of a home experienced there.

The Mid-East region showed the least price growth, with house prices increasing 9.3%.

The rise in Dublin was lower than the national average at 8.3%, though it remains the most expensive region to buy a home.

Fianna Fáil's Barry Cowen speaking to the media outside Leinster House in Dublin | Image:

Help to Buy Scheme

The Help to Buy (HTB) Scheme provides for a refund of income tax and DIRT paid over the previous four tax years to first-time buyers who purchase or self-build a new house or apartment.

For a property to qualify, it must be a new build and the construction is subject to VAT.

The purchase value of the property cannot be more than €500,000 for properties bought after January 1st 2017.

Deputy Cowen says when the scheme was first introduced he had concerns that it would lead to a rapid increase in house prices, unless the Government took steps to increase housing supply.

He told Newstalk Drive several changes need to happen.

"I do believe that these measures would have been fine were they parallel to issues that would address supply.

"Specifically, I think they should have addressed the issue of supply along four of five routes: that being the development charge should have been regionalised, that should have been assessed and reduced in many parts of the country.

"I think there should be a sunset period where VAT in the construction sector should be taken out of the equation - and you've the whole area of the cost of finance and competitive finance not being there, not being available to the sector".

He says the scheme should be paused while adequate supply measures are put in place.