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What is the First Home Scheme?

  • The First Home Scheme (FHS) is a shared equity scheme introduced in July 2022. It supports First Time Buyers to buy a new home or build their first home.
  • Under the First Home Scheme, the Government and participating lenders pay up to 30% of the cost of your new home in return for an equity share in your home equal to the percentage of the funding provided.

Who is Eligible for the First Home Scheme?

The FHS is available to:

  • First Time Buyers
  • Self-builders who want to build their first home on their own site
  • Individuals who want to buy their rental home because their landlord is selling the property. This is referred to as the Tenant Home Purchase Scheme.

Do you qualify for the First Home Scheme?

To qualify for the First Home Scheme, you must meet certain criteria:

  1. You must be over the age of 18
  2. You must be a First Time Buyer or Eligible under the 'Fresh Start' principle, buying or building a new home

    You are a First Time Buyer if:

    • You have not previously bought or built a property to live in
    • You do not own or have an interest in any property in Ireland or abroad

    You are a 'Fresh Start' applicant if you previously owned a home, but no longer have a financial interest in it because:

    • You are now divorced, separated, or your relationship has ended
    • You have gone through insolvency or bankruptcy

    If you are buying or building the property with someone else, they must also be a First Time Buyer or a Fresh Start applicant.

  3. Your mortgage must be with a participating lender and you must have a deposit

    • You must have mortgage approval with a participating lender. The current participating lenders are Bank of Ireland, Permanent TSB and Allied Irish Bank which includes AIB, Haven Mortgages and EBS.

    • You must borrow the maximum mortgage amount available to you from a participating lender.

    • You must not be availing of a mortgage exception with a participating lender

    • You must have a deposit of at least 10% of the home’s purchase price. If you are availing of the Help to Buy Scheme, this can contribute towards the deposit you need. If you are building your home, the deposit required is 10% of the build cost.

How much funding can you get and what are the costs?

  • You get funds from the First Home Scheme in return for a percentage ownership of the property. You can buy back this percentage if and when you want.

  • You can get up to 30% of the market value of your new property with the First Home Scheme. This is reduced to 20% if you are also using the Help to Buy Scheme. The minimum amount you can get is 2.5% of the property purchase price, or €10,000, whichever is greater.

  • There is no charge for the First Home Scheme for the first five years that you own your home. Charges apply from the start of the sixth year. This will be a service charge for the maintenance of the First Home Scheme. It is a percentage of the amount the FHS paid when you bought your home.

    They are:

    • 1.75% for years 6 to 15
    • 2.15% for years 16 to 29
    • 2.85% for years 30 and over.

How to apply for the First Home Scheme

  1. Check your eligibility: Visit and use the FHS Eligibility Calculator to see whether you are eligible for the Scheme.
  2. Get mortgage approval in principle: You will need to get mortgage approval from a participating lender to apply.
  3. Apply online: You will be required to provide certain personal details as well as information about the home you want to buy and the details of your solicitor.

    You will also need to provide:

    • Mortgage approval in principle
    • Photo ID of everyone applying
    • Proof of address (this must be dated within the last 6 months)
    • An estimate of how much it will cost to build your home, if you are building the property

  4. Have your application assessed: Your application and documents will be reviewed by the FHS.
  5. Get your eligibility certificate: If you qualify for the scheme, you will get an FHS eligibility certificate, which gives you an estimate of how much you can get from the FHS. You will be required to give the certificate to your mortgage lender to include in your application.
  6. Get mortgage approval: Get mortgage approval from your lender. They will give you a mortgage letter of offer.
  7. Upload letter of offer to customer portal: Upload your mortgage letter of offer to the FHS website, together with any other required documents. If you are building your own home, you will also need to provide a certified build cost from a qualified architect, engineer or quantity surveyor.
  8. Get your FHS customer contract: Once your FHS application has been approved, you and your solicitor will get a hard copy of your customer contract for the equity share. This is a legal contract between you and the FHS, which must be signed by you and witnessed by your solicitor.
  9. Get your FHS funds: Your solicitor will send the signed customer contract and other forms to the FHS, if you are buying your home, the FHS will then transfer the funds to your solicitor’s account, so they can complete the purchase of your home in line with the mortgage process. If you are building your home, you have 12 months from when you sign the contract to draw down the funds to your solicitor’s account and 24 months from draw down to complete the build of your home.

What is the Tenant Home Purchase Scheme?

The FHS has been extended to accept applications from tenants who have received a Notice of Termination and seek to purchase their rental property from their landlord. This is known as the Tenant Home Purchase Scheme (THPS).

Therefore, where tenants have insufficient funds to purchase their rental home when they combine their mortgage and deposit, they may seek to bridge the funding gap by availing of the THPS, subject to meeting the qualifying criteria for the scheme.

What are the qualifying criteria for the THPS?

All the eligibility criteria that apply under the FHS apply to the THPS, with some key distinctions:

  • THPS applicants must include a valid Notice of Termination with their application. This written notice, served by the landlord, must meet all the requirements outlined by the Residential Tenancies Board. FHS applicants are exempt from this requirement.
  • The THPS permits the purchase of second-hand properties, while the FHS exclusively covers newly built and self-built properties.
  • THPS applicants cannot avail of the Help to Buy Scheme, as it is solely applicable to new builds and self-builds. On the other hand, FHS applicants can leverage the Help to Buy Scheme.

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