The ‘Help to Buy’ scheme applies to first time buyers, or those self-building, a new residential property between the 19th of July 2016 and the 31st of December 2019. The scheme opened for applications last week. The key qualifying criteria are:
- The first time buyer must never have bought or built a residential property before, either individually or jointly
- All parties to the purchase or self-build must be first time buyers
- The property must be a new property
- The property must the purchaser’s home – it does not apply to investment properties
The incentive provides for a refund of income tax and DIRT paid over the previous four tax years. The refund will be 5% of the purchase value of the new house, up to a maximum value of €400,000. Therefore, the maximum refund applicable is €20,000.
For example, if purchasing a 3-bed semi-detached home in Ard Uisce, Whiterock Hill, valued at €200,000; a first time buyer eligible under the scheme, would be entitled to a rebate of €10,000.
Before you apply, certain criteria must be met and forms completed. You can download the forms here.
The weather in Wexford and across the country, has certainly been colder in recent weeks! In this colder weather, our heating systems are turned on for longer periods in our homes. This can prove to be costly. Making a few small changes can add up to big savings. Here are our tips to save you money on your heating:
- Check your window seals. These can wear over time, causing gaps and heat to escape.
- Even a little sunlight will help heat your home naturally, so make sure curtains and blinds are open during the day.
- Once the sun goes down, close curtains and blinds. This will help to trap heat in the room.
- Ensure your attic is insulated to avoid heat escaping through the roof.
- Bleed your radiators to make sure they are working as effectively as possible. This will avoid heating being switched on for longer than necessary.
- Don’t have your thermostat set too high. It shouldn’t be over 20 degrees. Lowering it by even 1 degree could reduce your bill by 10%.
- Turn off radiators in rooms that you’re not using, then keep doors closed to help minimise the space you’re heating.
- Carpeted rooms retain heat better than other flooring types. If you don’t have carpets, consider adding rugs.
Kearney & Co Property Sales and Lettings are proud to announce that Ken Murphy, part of the team since January 2012, has recently qualified as a Licensed Auctioneer and Estate Agent. He achieved his Higher Certificate in Auctioneering and Estate Agency after 2 years of studying in association with IPAV.
“As Lettings Manager, Ken has been instrumental in building our client base and the company’s excellent reputation.” says John Kearney, Managing Director. “He is now looking forward to investing his new skills and knowledge into our Property Sales Division. He is certainly bringing fresh energy to the business and has already made a number of significant sales.”
With Ken joining John as a fully qualified Auctioneer, resources on the Sales side of the business have now doubled. With Sarah Kearney in Accounts and Jeanette O’Hanlon looking after all maintenance issues, Kearney & Co can now provide an even greater commitment to delivering excellent customer service in both the Sales and Lettings sides of the business.
A building energy rating (BER) is a rating of the overall energy efficiency of a building. The rating is denoted on scale of A to G, with A1 being the most energy efficient and G being the least energy efficient. A-rated homes will tend to have the lowest energy bills. When it comes to selling your house, a good BER is an obvious advantage.
Here are some tips to increase the energy efficiency of your home:
- Swop your shower heads. Modern high efficiency shower heads can reduce water flow by half or more. Newer fixtures are designed to keep water pressure high while reducing the flow so you don’t feel the sacrifice like with earlier models.
- Install a tap aerator. A tap aerator can reduce water flow from taps by up to 50 percent without affecting water pressure.
- Check for leaks and drips from taps and flushes. Even a small drip can amount to gallons of water wastage every day.
- Install a dual flush on toilets. This means there are two flush settings – one that uses less water than the other.
- Select your washing machine setting carefully. Using hot water in your washing machine not only uses a large volume of water but also electricity if the water is heated unnecessarily. Reducing the temperature of the wash cycle is more energy efficient all round.
- Reduce tumble dryer usage. Tumble dryers are notorious energy users. The easiest way to reduce the energy use of your dryer, is simply not to use it. Dry outdoors as much as possible or use indoor drying racks.
- Maximise your oven space. The oven is one of the biggest energy users in the kitchen and most of us use our ovens very inefficiently. Rather than using the oven two days in a row, plan your meals and batch cook. It is much more economical to cook 3 items in your oven at once than turn it on 3 times!
- Reduce your fridge temperature. The temperature of your fridge does not need to be as low in winter time as it does in summer. Coming into the winter months, turn up the temperature slightly to make it run more efficiently.
- Use your microwave. Microwaves are the most energy efficient way to heat food. Some would question the health merits of microwaves but for efficiency, they are the best option.
- Use energy saving light bulbs. This is one of the simplest changes you can make to save energy and money.
- Install dimmer switches. By having a dimmer switch for your lighting enables you to turn down your lights and conserve energy.
- Ensure your home is well insulated. Good insulation will avoid heat escaping. If your home lacks good insulation, it is not too late to sort it out. There may be even a Government grant available to you to install proper insulation.
- Make sure windows and doors are properly sealed.
- Consider solar panels. A solar hot water heating system is an excellent way of making your house more energy efficient as it reduces the amount of fuel used to heat hot water.
- Never ‘standby’! Televisions, radios and DVD players all use energy when they are in standby mode. Games consoles are the biggest energy users while in standby mode. Ensure they are always powered off when not in use.
The market is picking up in the Wexford area but there is still a shortage of well-priced townhouses
After a 45 per cent increase in transactions in 2014, there was only a modest rise in sales activity for Wexford last year, up just 4.5 per cent. This compares with an average national increase of 11.9 per cent year on year for 2015.
According to data from property website MyHome.ie, 1,397 sales took place in the county in 2015, up from 1,337 the previous year. First-quarter transaction figures for 2016 indicate this slowdown has continued, with transaction levels down by 14 per cent, compared to a national average of -11.3 per cent, in the first three months of 2016 compared with the same period in 2015.
In total, 288 sales were recorded in Wexford between January and March this year, down from 335 in the same period last year. However, this fall-off in transaction levels may be offset by upward pressure on price.
One new development that has just launched its second phase is Ard Uisce, on Whiterock Hill, about 3km from the town. This is made up of 24 A-rated homes with prices ranging from €175,000 for a three-bedroom terrace house to €219,500 for a four-bedroom detached property. Sales are being handled by Kearney & Co, which has sold 16 new houses in the same development over the past eight months. “Not long to go until we reach the halfway point of 2016 and it has definitely been the best six months for the property market in Wexford in a long while,” says estate agent John Kearney.
The Central Statistics Office has just released the following information on house prices nationally, in Dublin and in the rest of Ireland.
In the year to February, residential property prices at a national level, increased by 8.0%. This compares with an increase of 7.6% in January and an increase of 14.9% recorded in the twelve months to February 2015.
Residential property prices showed no change in the month of February. This compares with a decrease of 0.5% recorded in January and a decrease of 0.4% recorded in February of last year.
In Dublin, residential property prices decreased by 0.1% in February and were 4.0% higher than a year ago. Dublin house prices decreased by 0.3% in the month and were 4.0% higher compared to a year earlier.
The price of residential properties in the Rest of Ireland (i.e. excluding Dublin) rose by 0.1% in February compared with no change in February of last year. Prices were 11.5% higher than in February 2015.
Residential property prices in Dublin are 36.9% lower than at their highest level in February 2007. The price of residential properties in the Rest of Ireland is 35.2% lower than their highest level in September 2007. Overall, the national index is 33.8% lower than its highest level in 2007.
At Kearney & Co., we have fabulous houses for sale across Wexford County. Take your pick from Wexford town, Whiterock Hill, Castlebridge, Cleariestown, Crossabeg, Murrintown, Blackwater, Enniscorthy, Rosslare, Kilmore, Kilmuckridge, Oilgate. . . we could go on!
But now that you’ve decided you want to buy, how do you save your deposit? These tips will help you get your deposit together.
- Know Exactly How Much You Need
Central bank deposit rules are that if you are a first time buyer, you must have a 10% deposit up to a purchase price of €220,000 and 20% on the excess over €220,000. A 20% deposit is required for second time buyers. Having an exact figure as your goal will give you more focus.
- Know Exactly Your Current Financial Situation
Before making any decisions, analyse your current incomings and outgoings. Have you other loans, credit card bills? What are your monthly expenses? Its only when you have this information are you fully equipped to make a decision.
- Be Smart With Your Money
Rather than trying to go for the cheaper option on everything, only go for cheaper brands on items that don’t really matter to you. If you’re sacrificing your favourite brand for a cheaper one that you don’t like, this will end up in the bin and so is more wasteful!
- Set Up A Standing Order From Your Salary
If you set up a standing order to save a certain amount every month, you won’t miss the money as much as you never had it in the first place! Trying to save what’s left over at the end of the week/month doesn’t work.
- Consider How Much You Are Spending on Where You Currently Live
If the goal is a particular home in a particular area, you will get there all the quicker if you try to reduce the cost of your current rent/mortgage. Could you rent out a room or move in with family temporarily?
- Have You Anything Worth Selling Online?
Really consider this. We may think we’ve nothing worth selling but “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure”! There are many websites that make it easy and cost effective to sell what we don’t need.
- Encourage Each Other
If you are buying the house jointly, then save together and encourage each other. Good support is vital in achieving this goal.
- Shop Around For the Best Savings Account
Visit all banks to ensure that you have a savings account that will yield the best interest for you. Be careful that you understand the access you have to your money. Often the higher interest accounts limit access and withdrawals from your account for a certain period.
Contact us in relation to any of our properties for sale.
With the weather unseasonably mild in Wexford and across the country; and rainfall at exceptionally high levels for the month of December, we may have neglected doing those jobs we usually do in autumn to keep our homes in tip-top shape! Here’s a quick reminder. . .
- Prepare for Winter Storms
Don’t let our winter winds take you by surprise―always be prepared for power failures. Have batteries, a flashlight, candles, matches and a lighter to hand.
- Get your heating system serviced
Have a professional check your boiler and ensure it’s in good working order before you turn it on. Replace the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, in case your heating systems are overworking.
- Get your chimney cleaned
Grab a flashlight and look inside for build-up, bird’s nests or obvious cracks. From the outside, check for broken bricks and crumbling mortar. Ensure that your damper opens and closes and seals tightly. You should have your chimney professionally cleaned every year. Stock up on fuel and you’re ready for a comfy, cosy winter by the fire!
- Make sure your windows are properly sealed
Seal drafty windows to keep heat in and energy bills low.
- Clear out the gutters
Clogged gutters block the drainage of rain, resulting in household leaks and damage to landscape and foundation. After all the autumn leaves have fallen, ensure all gutters are clear.
- Clean out your garage
Like you ‘spring clean’ your house, you should also ‘autumn clean’ your garage! Clean and store gardening tools. Put away you won’t need―the lawn-mower, hedge trimmer, rakes and summer toys, garden furniture. Bring any winter necessities―shovels, leaf blowers etc. to the front.
- Make sure you have energy saving light bulbs
With less daylight hours, lights in our homes are turned on for longer periods of time. Save money and save the planet by using energy saving light bulbs.
Recently the Government announced a series of major reforms to the private rental sector to provide rent certainty for both tenants and landlords. There have been mixed reactions to these reforms and many people are unsure what the changes mean for them. Myhome.ie have compiled this explanation of what the changes mean. . .
‘A New Deal for Tenants’, aims to provide for rent certainty measures, including increasing the rent review period from one to two years, increase noticed periods for rent reviews and much greater protections for tenants.
- What is the biggest change in the housing package announced by the Government?
The most significant change is the decision to increase the rent review period from 12 months to 24 months for a four-year period. This means that anyone who has had an increase in 2015 will not face another one until 2017.
- Can’t a landlord just increase the rent before this package is implemented?Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly says this legislation will be in place by the end of the month and a landlord must give 28 days before increasing rent. So it is unlikely. At present a landlord can review the rent only once every 12 months. So anyone who has reviewed the rent on the property in the past 12 months cannot review the rent again.The Department of the Environment has insisted any landlord who has not increased the rent in the past 12 months is precluded from increasing the rent to more than the market rate.
- Are there any other measures that will help renters?
Yes. The notification period for rent hikes will increase from 28 days to 90 days in the new package. Landlords will also be required to notify their tenants on how to dispute increases they deem excessive.Landlords will also have to provide details of three properties in the area with higher rents before increasing their own.~
- Can’t a landlord just evict its current tenants and bring in new ones at a higher rent?No. Once a tenant has been in a property for six months, they have a right to remain there for up to four years. Landlords will also be required to explain in writing why a property is no longer suitable to its current holders. If they claim they are selling the property or are handing it over to family, landlords will have to sign a statutory declaration confirming that intention. If they do not, they face potential fines of up to €3,000.
- Will this do anything to help the homelessness crisis?
Yes and no. The rent proposals will reduce the numbers of people who are confronted with unaffordable rent increases.However, it does little to tackle the affordability issue which is one of the reasons many face homelessness. The Government has not increased rent supplement payments despite significant calls for it to do so.
Is it all bad news for landlords?
Not necessarily. A landlord who takes tenants off the social-housing list will receive 100 per cent mortgage interest relief.
If a landlord secures an order from the PRTB for removing an antisocial tenant, they can now go to the District Court instead of the Circuit Court.
However, landlords are not happy with the proposals, with the Residential Landlords Association describing the package as a bureaucratic nightmare.
Are there any measures to increase housing supply?
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan will move to introduce a once-off initiative to kick-start supply of new housing constructions at more affordable prices.
Rebates will apply to developments where a development has more than 50 units which will be priced under €300,000 in Dublin and €250,000 in Cork.
There will also be legislative changes made to the Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) provisions of the Planning and Development Acts to provide for a fast-tracking of SDZ planning schemes.
Will this be the end of the housing crisis?
The Government was eager to stress this was the first of a number of measures. Housing will be a key election issue and each party will be under pressure to outline their response to the crisis.