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Housing

Expert group to examine the whole process around buying a house from bidding to probate

Leo Varadkar said some people are facing lots of delays buying a house.

AN EXPERT GROUP has been set up to examine the process as to how people go about buying a house in Ireland and what obstacles they face.

Speaking at the launch of the progress report for the Housing for All plan, Taoiseach said the whole process can be very stressful for buyers, stating that there could be better ways to do things. 

He highlighted the Scottish model whereby there is a series of closed bids put forward and the highest bidder secures the property. 

While he said he did not know what the group would recommend, Leo Varadkar said  the group will examine the whole process around purchasing a house.

“They will examine the evidence, they will hear people’s stories. But I know in Scotland they have a different system of bidding, it is a closed bid where a person puts in their bid once and the highest bidder gets the house.

“I am not saying it is the best thing to do, it might not be, but at least it gets away from that stress a lot of people experience several times. By the time they actually get to buy a house, they were outbid a few times and it drags on for weeks.”

While he said buying a home goes smoothly for some, many people can be “taken by surprise and frustrated and face lots of delays because of all the different various steps along the way when it comes to building a house”, said Varadkar.

“This includes the bidding process, conveyancing and probate. I think there are a couple of changes we can make in these areas. I look forward to seeing that group’s recommendations,” he added. 

His comments come as government agreed to broaden the local authority home loan to make finance available to purchase and renovate derelict or non-habitable properties for the first time.

Ministers also extended the rent-a-room tax relief from 1 December 1 on an administrative basis, for those in social housing who wish to rent a room to a third-level student.

The number of homes eligible under the vacant property refurbishment grant in Ireland was also doubled – raising the target to 4,000 homes to be delivered by 2025.

Varadkar said the government was “making real progress” in tackling the housing crisis, stating that he can confidently say that the 2020s will be a record decade for the construction of new social and public housing.

It’s encouraging to see first-time buyer activity at its highest level in 16 years, he said. 

“In the past 12 months, 30,000 new homes have been built. That is 50% more than when this Government came into office, more than double the number when I became Taoiseach in 2017,” said Varadkar. 

Sinn Fein questioned the progress made in the Housing for All plan and asked for more detailed figures on social homes built and government grants and loans handed out.

Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien could not confirm that the government would meet its social and affordable target of 9,100 this year, stating that he was awaiting confirmation of the latest quarter figures. 

He said the re-jigged housing targets should be signed off on in Q1 or Q2 next year. O’Brien said the new planning bill, which should speed through planning bureaucracy, will be published next week – with a view of passing the legislation early next year. 

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