Here at Fachtna O’Driscoll Solicitors, I have advised and guided many first time buyers through the process of purchasing their first property. This can be a stressful time as it is something that you have never done before, but I always aim to provide clear and straightforward advice to each client in order to make the process as stress free and seamless as possible.

The Help to Buy Scheme (HTB) is a great Government initiative designed to assist first time purchasers with the payment of the deposit in purchasing their new home, and I am frequently asked for guidance in making the application. The following is a handy guide for you.

What is it?

It is a scheme to help first-time property buyers. It will help you with the deposit you need to buy or build a new house or apartment. You must buy or build the property to live in as your home. The incentive will give you a refund of Income Tax and Deposit Interest Retention Tax (DIRT) that you paid in Ireland over the previous four years.

Does it apply to the Purchase of Second Hand Properties?

Unfortunately, no.

Who Can Apply?

To claim Help To Buy, you must:

· be a first-time buyer

· buy or build a new property between 19 July 2016 and 31 December 2021

· live in the property as your main home for five years after you buy or build it

· be tax compliant, if you are self assessed you must also have tax clearance.

To qualify, you must not have previously bought or built a house or apartment, either on your own or jointly with any other person. If you are buying or building the new property with other people, they must also be first-time buyers. If you have inherited or been gifted a property it will not affect your eligibility.

Additionally, the contractor you are purchasing from must be an approved contractor for the purposes of the scheme and you can check they are registered on the Revenue Website.

Anything Else I Should Know?

1. The value of the property must be less than €500,000.00.

2. You must take out your mortgage with an approved lender under the scheme.

3. The Maximum payment is €20,000.00

4. The payment will be made directly to the contractor to assist in paying the contract deposit. The contract deposit is usually 10% of the purchase price.

How Do I Apply?

Firstly, you must have registered an account with Revenue.

There are two stages to the online process:

· the application stage

· the claim stage.

Application Stage:

You must complete a declaration and select the years you want to use for a refund. If you are tax compliant, your application will be approved. You will be provided with an application number and a summary of the maximum amount you can claim. You will also be given a 6 digit access code separately through MyEnquiries.

Claim Stage:

You can make your claim once you have either:

· signed the contract for your home

· drawn down the first part of the mortgage if you are self building.

· You must upload evidence of your mortgage

· Copy of the signed contract or if it is a self-build proof od drawdown of first stage payment and a copy of the banks valuation report of the premises

· Once you are approved you will be given a claim reference code and access code which you should forward to your solicitor

Please feel free to contact me by e-mail, amy.shine@fodlaw.ie or phone +353 (0)21 4278131 to answer any of your questions regarding the HTB Scheme or about purchasing a new home.

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Fachtna O’Driscoll Cork Solicitors, 9 South Mall, Cork. Tel +353 (0)21 4278131 Fax +353 (0)21 4279140