Mortgage Switching, Interior Design Myths and Low-Allergy Gardens

Mortgage Switching, Interior Design Myths and Low-Allergy Gardens

Posted on 14May

On this episode of The Home Show: The Mortgage Coach gives his tips and tricks for what to consider when switching; if you’re looking to get away from it all this summer, we’ll be chatting about self-building campervans; The Holistic Gardener joins Sinead to help you create a low-allergy garden, and Optimise Design’s Denise O’Connor will be busting interior design myths and showing us how to curate our bookshelves!

Listen here:

450,000 homeowners facing higher mortgage rates as early as July

Posted on 25Apr

MORTGAGE holders have been warned that interest rates could rise as early as July, adding to the cost of servicing variable and tracker mortgages.

Some 450,000 of homeowners are still on a combination of variable and tracker rates.


Do I have to tell my insurer we have Ukrainians living in our home?

Posted on 16Apr

Q My family has welcomed a Ukrainian refugee and her two children into our home. I remember reading something in our home-insurance policy terms about having to declare if there is a change in the number of people resident at the property. Will this apply in this case? Even though it will hopefully, for their sake, only be for a short period.

Generally speaking, a household should inform their insurer about any significant changes to their home, such as taking in new long-term residents, in order to understand any changes in their cover requirements. Their premium could change as a result of this, and some policy conditions may apply if the new residents are not immediate family or named policyholders, according to Elaine Kearney of Aviva Insurance Ireland. However, in the case of housing Ukrainian refugees many providers, such as Aviva, have waived this condition due to the unprecedented circumstances, and in line with Government efforts to find housing solutions for those arriving here to escape the war.

Insurers are treating refugees as guests meaning, in your case, that you don’t have to inform your provider that they are staying with you, Ms Kearney said. They will be covered by your policy in the same way as guests living in the home, she said. Over the longer term, if your policy is due for renewal within the first 12 months of the refugees living with you, you will need to inform your provider. If, after 12 months, any individuals or family are still living with you, then you should tell your insurer when your policy is next due for renewal, she said.

Q I have money to invest but want zero risk. I am considering gold but have no idea who to contact. Can you give any advice please?

Interest rates are at historic lows. Some banks are imposing negative interest on some accounts – charging you to hold your money. So it is understandable that many people are seeking alternative investments in the hope of getting some level of a return or at least keeping up with inflation. There is a rule of thumb that must be considered when thinking about investing, Liam Ferguson, who is principal financial brokers

The lower the risk of any investment, the lower the potential return and vice versa. Any investment with zero risk will deliver a zero return or worse right now, he said. If someone tries to sell you an investment with low or no risk, but the potential for great returns, be deeply suspicious of both the person and the product.

In the current climate, low or no risk and good returns are an either/or choice, Mr Ferguson said.

Gold tends to swing into favour as an investment in times of uncertainty and indeed war, as it is perceived as a “safe haven”. This popularity tends to cause the price of gold to rise during uncertain times as investors seek safety. But gold is not zero risk or even low risk and can be very volatile at times.

For example, between October 2012 and December 2015 the price of gold dropped by over 40pc.

It recovered but it took until summer of 2020 before it reached the same price it had been in October 2012.

Mr Ferguson said gold is not a low-risk investment. Instead of looking for returns on zero risk investments, in 2022 the question needs, he said, to be how much risk are you willing to accept in return for potentially greater returns?

Q My husband and I both work in civil service. We are currently earning a combined €80,000 per annum. We have managed to save €17,000. We have never had any loans or debt. Could we get a mortgage? We work in Dublin but hope to buy at home in Cork. 

You are very suitable mortgage candidates, according to Joey Sheahan, head of credit at online broker

You should be able to borrow three-and-a-half times your income which is €280,000. He said you may also qualify for an exemption, meaning you could potentially borrow up to maybe €320,000-€360,000. Based on your current monthly savings amount, in one year your savings will increase by €15,000, which means you will have €32,000. This would allow you to purchase a home for €320,000. The average house in Cork City is €313,000. As long your employer confirms in writing that its ok for you to work from Cork, there is no issue buying a house to live in Cork, Mr Sheahan said.


Five tips for switching your mortgage provider and getting the best deal

Posted on 29Mar
The number of people switching their mortgage to avail of a better deal is soaring. The latest figures from Banking and Payments Federation Ireland found that there was a near 43% jump in people switching their mortgage over the last year. Given that making the switch could save you thousands of euro, Niamh Hennessy has compiled the top five tips to consider when switching your mortgage.
There are very strict criteria to be met when getting a mortgage and it is the same when it comes to switching.

Bite the bullet

You may still be traumatised about how hard it was to get your mortgage over the line in the first place that the idea of switching fills you with dread. However, it can be done and switching will not be as difficult as getting your first mortgage. Get into your mind that switching mortgage provider could save you thousands of euro and go for it. Generally it will take around eight weeks to complete a switch so try not to get frustrated and abandon the process if you feel it is taking too long. Joey Sheahan of said every mortgage holder should reassess their situation every three years regardless of what rate they are on.


There will be some costs involved in switching mortgage provider, mainly the cost of a solicitor. However the bill should not be as big as it was when you were first getting a mortgage. This can deter many people from switching but your mortgage is a marathon rather than a sprint and short-term pain can lead to long-term gain. Your solicitor too will do a lot of the background work on this. According to legal fees for switching can be up to €1,500 plus VAT.


Increased competition in the market means that switching is now easier and more cost-effective than ever.

Keep an eye out for deals. Banks make a lot of money from mortgages and they will want you to switch to them. Often banks will offer switchers lump sum payments, which is often around €2,000 or even cover the cost of your solicitor’s fees. According to Trevor Grant of Irish Mortgage Advisors increased competition in the market means that switching is now easier and more cost-effective than ever.

Watch the rate

Although a deal is great make sure you focus on the rate. You could be paying this mortgage for another 20 years and while a lump sum would be nice, the lower the interest rate is the less you will pay over time. Mr Sheehan points out that a borrower could save €70,000 in interest over the life of their mortgage by reducing their rate from 3.2% to 1.95%. There’s a lot of talk in the market too that interest rates could rise which would mean higher mortgage repayments. Mr Grant said that mortgage holders should be asking themselves how they might deal with any such future increases and now is a good time to switch if you can.

Not everyone can switch

There are very strict criteria to be met when getting a mortgage and it is the same when it comes to switching. If your financial circumstances have changed since you first got your mortgage it may not be as plain sailing as you think. A mortgage switching application will take into account your current financial circumstances. So, if for example you reduced your hours at work to three days instead of five days and have two additional children since you first took out your mortgage then the playing field will be different. That is not to say it wouldn’t be possible but it is something to bear in mind. Generally too you will not be able to switch if you are in negative equity on your mortgage. If you are on a fixed rate too you may need to wait until the term of that deal is finished.


House price inflation surges to 14.8% – highest in nearly seven years

Posted on 21Mar

Latest CSO numbers show average price paid for a home over last 12 months was €328,235

House prices grew at an annual rate of 14. 8 per cent in January, the sharpest level of growth seen in the market in almost seven years, as demand continues to outstrip supply.

Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures show the State’s property market continues to be stoked by pandemic-related factors, such as increased savings, remote working and lower-than-anticipated supply.

“We’re now seeing much larger deposits on the back of the pandemic, primarily down to the fact that some first-time buyers have been able to save up substantial deposits,” Joey Sheahan of consumer advocacy group said.

“ While the cost of buying continues to increase, the cost of renting is almost always higher,” he said.

The CSO’s headline rate of inflation was up from a rate of 14.3 per cent recorded in December and has risen almost continuously since the start of the pandemic. In Dublin, where supply problems are most acute, prices rose at an annual rate of 13.3 per cent while prices outside the capital were 16 per cent higher.


Residential property prices climb almost 15% in 12 months

Posted on 16Mar

The average price of buying a residential property increased by 14.8 per cent nationally between January 2021 and January 2022 according to figures released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

The increase was slightly higher outside of Dublin (16 per cent), while the increase in the capital was noted as 13.3 per cent.

The median price of a home purchased in the 12 months to January was found to have been €280,000 nationally. On an area basis, Longford had the lowest median price (€130,000) while Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown in Dublin had the highest median (€595,000).

The latest figures show a 0.9 per cent monthly change compared to December 2021.

In terms of residential property type, prices of houses in the Border region saw the largest annual percentage change (+24.7 per cent), followed by houses in the southeast (+18.8 per cent) and houses in the midlands (+18 per cent).

The prices of apartments nationally (excluding Dublin) jumped by 17.5 per cent, and by 11.8 per cent in Dublin.

The CSO figures show the national index is now 3.3 per cent lower than its highest level in 2007, with Dublin residential property prices 11 per cent below their February 2007 peak, while prices across the rest of the country are 4.7 per cent below their May 2007 high.

Since their low point in early 2013, national prices have risen by 115.6 per cent. Dublin’s prices have soared by 120.4 per cent from their February 2012 low as the rest of Ireland has noted a 119.4 per cent increase from May 2013.

Commenting on the figures, head of credit with Joey Sheahan says first time buyers continue to make up a strong cohort of the market.

“Demand for homes is unlikely to slow down, given the pace at which housing stock is entering the market. The extension of the Help-to-Buy Scheme remains a big support for first time buyers.

“We’re now seeing much larger deposits on the back of the pandemic, primarily down to the fact that some first time buyers have been able to save up substantial deposits.

“While the cost of buying continues to increase, the cost of renting is almost always higher. As such, we’d advise those in a position to buy, to go ahead once they find a suitable property,” he adds.

Mr Sheahan notes the number of ‘trader uppers’ is also on the rise since the pandemic, explaining: “People have had a chance to take stock, and many are deciding that greater space in the home is important to them.

“With the cost of building and building supplies on the rise, and the difficulty in getting tradespeople, people are opting for turn-key trade ups in greater numbers.”


There’s no ignoring what Putin’s war in Ukraine will mean for your finances

Posted on 12Mar

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has left thousands of ordinary people dead, including children, and millions of refugees have fled the country.

The human cost is enormous and the scenes from the country are heartbreaking.

Source: is a Proud Partner of Avant Money

Posted on 09Feb

Avant Money (formerly known as Avantcard) launched today and confirmed its new mortgage products are now available to Irish customers, with fixed rate mortgages starting from 1.95%, by far the lowest rate in the market today.

The company has been providing credit cards and personal loans to Irish consumers for over twenty years. Avant Money is owned by Spanish banking group Bankinter, which also has operations in Portugal and Luxembourg.

We, at, are proud to announce that we are one of Avant Money’s partners and we are here to guide and advise switchers, movers and first-time buyers on the range of these new products.

Joey Sheahan, Head of Credit, and author of The Mortgage Coach says:

Avant Money’s entry into the Irish market is the best news for Irish mortgage holders. We have long seen European rates well below 2% compared to closer to 3% for Irish mortgage holders, and now, for the first time since before 2008, rates below 2% are available to homeowners in Ireland. It’s a once in a decade or maybe even 2 decade opportunity where a new lender enters the Irish market and reduces interest rates to this extent. We are delighted to be one of Avant Money’s partners and our advice to mortgage holders is now is the time to review their current mortgage, even if they have done so recently. A mortgage holder with €300,000 outstanding with 32 years remaining and Loan to Value of below 60% can save €158 monthly or €60,000 over the term of mortgage based on reducing interest rate from 2.95% to 1.95%”.

If you would like to talk to Joey about your particular situation complete the form below:


Q&A with Joey Sheahan – Head of Credit, at online brokers and author of The Mortgage Coach

Posted on 09Feb

Head of Credit, at online brokers and author of The Mortgage Coach

  1. My husband and I both work in civil service. We are currently earning a combined €80,000 per annum. We have managed to save €17,000, saving €1250 per month. We have never had any loans or debt. Could we get a mortgage? We’re currently based in Dublin, but realise our salaries won’t allow us to buy here. We’re hoping to buy at home in Cork. Is this possible?


Yes, you are very suitable mortgage candidates. You should be able to borrow 3.5 times your income which is €280,000, and possibly qualify for an exemption, meaning you could potentially borrow up to maybe €320,000 – €360,000. Based on your current monthly savings amount, in 1 year your savings will increase by €15,000, which means you will have €32,000. This would allow you to purchase a home for €320,000. According to the most recent report, the average house price in Cork City is €313,000. As long as your employer confirms in writing that it’s ok for you to work from Cork, then there is no issue buying a house to live in Cork if your employer is based in Dublin.

Q&A with Joey Sheahan – Head of Credit, at online brokers and author of The Mortgage Coach

Posted on 09Feb

Head of Credit, at online brokers and author of The Mortgage Coach

  1. My wife has inherited a home with her 2 siblings. They have made the decision to sell it. We expect to have €200,000 cash in 6-9 months’ time. We have not been saving. She is self-employed and her salary fluctuates, but she has made a minimum of €50,000 the last 3 years. I work as an engineer in a global software company and my salary is €90,000. I also take home €30,000 pa in bonus and shares. Can we use the €200k as our deposit, and still get a mortgage, even though we haven’t been saving?


Yes, absolutely. If you guys have been paying rent,  then the monthly rental payments will serve as proof to the ban of your ability to meet monthly mortgage repayments. If you are not paying rent, then you have ample time, between now and when you receive the inheritance funds, to start saving now to be able to show the necessary savings record of  6 months.

Q&A with Joey Sheahan – Head of Credit, at online brokers and author of The Mortgage Coach

Posted on 09Feb

Head of Credit, at online brokers and author of The Mortgage Coach

  1. I’m a doctor (HSE) and my husband is a journalist (employee). Our combined income is €150,000 pa. I expect to qualify as a consultant in 2.5 years. We have saved €45,000. Given the housing crisis, we’re not sure if we should keep saving, and buy when we know our permanent location in 2.5 years (as I don’t know where I’ll get an appointment yet) or should we buy now in Dublin, to get on the ‘property ladder’. What would you recommend? How much could we borrow now, and how much could we be expected to borrow in 2.5 years?

You could borrow at least 3.5 times your combined income, which would be a loan amount of €525,000. You could potentially secure an exemption, given you are both high earners, meaning we could qualify for a loan amount of maybe 4.5 times your income, which would be €675,000. However, you would need to increase your deposit, as you would need 10% of the purchase price. If you are currently renting, I would give serious consideration to buying now as the rent you will pay in Dublin over the next 2.5 years will really add up. The average monthly rent in Dublin is approximately €2,000 so if you multiply this by 30 months, it means you could pay at least €60,000. The monthly repayment on €525,000 mortgage over 35 years at an interest rate of 2.2% would be much less at €1,793. If work dictates that you have to move county down the line, then you could rent out your Dublin property and the rent should cover the mortgage repayments, subject to any tax obligations.

How to go about gifts to take stress out of mortgage deposit

Posted on 11Dec

How to go about gifts to take stress out of mortgage deposit

Know your rights when seeking help from parents to get on property ladder

Forget AIB, Bank of Ireland or any of the remaining stalwarts of Irish finance. It’s the Bank of Mum and Dad that is giving most first-time buyers a step on the property ladder.

According to data from the Banking and Payments Federation (BPFI), 42pc of new home purchasers used a parental gift toward their deposit. And they needed it: €52,500 is now required on average to get a first-home deposit together – a doubling from a decade ago. And despite a record 31,000 new builds commencing this year, it isn’t anywhere near enough, or fast enough, to curb house price inflation.

The total value of gifts alone was €210m in the first six months of the year, and that’s worrying enough for the Government to have at least considered taxing it in the budget. It is inequitable for one – not everyone has a wealthy parent to contribute – and of itself, it inflates house prices.

Ray McMahon, chief commercial officer at ICS Mortgages says: “This would reflect what we are seeing from our customers also. What is particularly of note from the BPFI figures is the significant number of second-time buyers who are also utilising gifts – a trend we are increasingly observing.”

There are conditions attached, but it’s normal for a lender to facilitate gifts as part of the deposit as long as it’s clear who’s giving it and under what circumstances, he says.

And when is a ‘gift’ a ‘loan’ or vice versa? If it is due to be repaid, it should have interest charged, with gift tax implications – this is what is being considered in the future by Government. But with ordinary interest rates at zero, it’s difficult to see how parents could charge kids interest on a loan they’re happy to hand out.

If it’s gifted, it matters by whom and for how much. Such things don’t bother loving parents, but they do concern Revenue officials and banks.

With house prices inflating by 12.4pc year-on-year and rents up by more than 7pc, what is a saver to do?

Interest rates are not only zero, but negative, given the effect of inflation – currently running close to 5pc. Yet try to do anything risky with the cash by way of eking out a return and the lender immediately frowns. Coupled with having to shell out more income toward rental while also saving, makes it very difficult.

 The Rules

First-time buyers need not just 10pc of the purchase price, but an additional 2pc or so to cover stamp duty and fees. They need to be able to show capacity to service the debt, plus 2pc added for ‘stress test’ purposes along with their mortgage protection and home insurance. Oh, and they need to buy clothes, pay bills, food, pay creche fees and the other sundries of modern life.

Joey Sheehan, author of The Mortgage Coach, says the purpose of the Central Bank’s macroprudential rules on lending (which were not changed in its latest review), “is to ensure buyers cannot borrow more than they can afford to repay”.

He recommends transferring savings into one dedicated account to save a regular amount each month. “Avoid making withdrawals. It’s better to save less on a monthly basis and then add extra when you can rather than over-saving and dipping into it”.

He adds a lender will grant Approval in Principle (which lasts six months, but is easily renewed), when they can see the required percentage of purchase available.


When it comes to gifts, there are strict rules, both legal and financial, in place. Firstly, a gift must be just that. Banks don’t like to see additional loans being set up, either from the Credit Union or Mum and Dad, which could reduce a borrower’s capacity to service the mortgage.

They will typically demand a ‘gift letter’ or in some cases a Deed of Gift, witnessed by a solicitor to show that the parent has no expectation of getting their money back and that no secondary claim is put on the property. If there is capital acquisitions tax due, they’ll want evidence it has or can be paid.

A parent can gift up to €335,000 to a child without gift tax being applied. However, this is a lifetime cumulative limit, from both parents, for all gifts, and inheritances and any future amount over this threshold will be taxed at 33pc.

A grandparent can gift up to €32,500, again with the same rules applying.
Separately, there is a Small Gifts Exemption permitted of €3,000 per person, per year, from anybody to anybody else.

If it is done cleverly and with aforethought, four parents (his and hers) could gift a couple this amount over the two months (December and January) amounting to €48,000 in total without a tax implication, according to Eoin McGee, author of How to Be Good With Money.

Help to Buy Scheme

Under the Government’s extremely generous tax refund scheme, a gift may not even be necessary, with Revenue refunding four years of tax, to a maximum of €30,000 toward a deposit for a first-time buyer.

Securing a mortgage

Aside from the deposit, there are a lot of things you can do to get yourself mortgage ready. Banks like consistency, stability and diligence. Looking like an attractive borrower can be achieved in a few steps.

Have a good credit record: Missed repayments, even for an insurance premium or small loan is a red alert for lenders. Get your credit history from the Central Credit Register before the bank does.

Keep your spending ‘clean’: We’re all ‘tapping’ our way through life more than ever, so it will be crystal clear to a bank what you’re spending your money on. They get suspicious if they see unexplained large withdrawals of cash, frivolous spending or money being used to servicing a gambling account, even if you’re winning. If you use an app like Revolut or a different account to buy crypto currency or you have a store card, they’ll also want to see that.

Having a constant overdraft not only costs a lot, but it smacks of financial indiscipline. Control your direct debits, cut back and get rid of it six months before you apply for your mortgage.

Your income must be able to service a mortgage if interest rates were to rise by 2pc. This is the ‘stress test’ and banks will apply it before agreeing to lend. Work it out and be prepared to prove it.

Control your ‘nets’: No more than 35pc of net income should go on debt servicing. Pay off existing loans (highest-interest bearing ones) before applying for a loan, even if it means saving for longer.


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