Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Finance, Michael McGrath TD has said the Central Bank should treat returning emigrants who have never owned a home in Ireland as being first time buyers here.

Deputy McGrath commented, “Under existing Central Bank rules, a returning emigrant who borrowed to purchase a home at any stage abroad but never in Ireland is treated as a non-first time buyer. This means they are faced with a 20% deposit requirement if they wish to purchase a home here, instead of the 10% requirement if they were regarded as first time buyers. To make matters worse for them, they are also excluded from the Government’s Help to Buy scheme for first time buyers.

“At a time when the State is trying to attract emigrants back to Ireland, this is exactly the type of issue that needs to be addressed. An emigrant may have owned an apartment or house abroad for a period of time and then sold it. They may not have the type of lump sum needed to meet the 20% deposit requirement. In my view, the fact that they never owned a home in Ireland means they should be regarded as a first time buyer here.

“The reality is that the Revenue Commissioners, the Central Bank and the Department of Housing all have different definitions of first time buyer. For example, under certain circumstances, a person who is divorced or legally separated and who previously owned a home, may be treated as a first time buyer for the purposes of qualifying for the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan Scheme. However, the Revenue and the Central Bank allow no such exemption.

“The definition of first time buyer needs to be reviewed. A good place to start would be for the Central Bank to allow returning emigrants to be treated as a first time buyer if they never owned a home here. I raised this issue recently with the Governor of the Central Bank at the Oireachtas Finance Committee. He undertook to write to me on the matter. I look forward to his reply,” concluded McGrath.