Looking to renovate your home? Here’s how to pay for it

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, we have all been spending a lot more time at home. This newfound time in your house may have inspired you to make some changes around the house, such as a basement remodel or turning that spare room into a home office for your remote work. Renovating your home can be a major project, and there are a variety of ways to pay for it. Whether you are doing something as simple as a kitchen or bathroom remodel, or something major like changing your home’s appearance or adding an extension, these projects can become quite expensive. There are many ways to pay for these projects, such as cash, a credit card, or a loan.

The best and cheapest way to pay for anything, especially renovations, is cold, hard, cash. If you don’t have enough savings to complete your project, and can afford to wait until you do, there’s no better time to start than now. Start improving your bank balance by setting aside a certain amount of money each time you get paid. …

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AIB to close branches due to pandemic in controversial decision

The covid-19 pandemic and its related lockdowns have had a number of effects on the financial landscape both in Ireland and worldwide. One of the biggest effects has been the shift to contactless payments and online banking. This trend was only increased due to lockdowns, as the bank’s physical locations were closed, leading to more customers accessing their money online or through the bank’s app.

On Tuesday, Allied Irish Banks (AIB) said that it had conducted a “detailed strategic review” to examine the changes in how customers interact with banks. In the review, the bank stated that “Following the unrelenting shift in customer preference for digital banking over the last number of years, AIB is announcing the amalgamation of 15 branches in locations across the country by December this year”. The vast majority of these 15 branches being closed are in urban and suburban locations in Dublin and Cork. Accounts in the closing branches will be moved to neighboring branches, and these closures will leave AIB with 170 remaining physical branches. About 100 AIB employees will be affected by this …

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How do mortgages work?

If you’re looking to buy a home, you’ve probably already realized that this is not like most transactions. The average house price in Dublin is €396,000, and unless you’re very wealthy, you probably don’t have anywhere that much in savings. Because you likely can’t afford an expense of this magnitude out of your own pocket, you will need to finance the purchase through a mortgage, and if you’re new to the home-buying process, you may be a little confused as to how exactly these loans work.

A mortgage is a huge loan secured against the value of your house. A “secured” loan means that the borrower promises collateral to the lender in the event that they are unable to make payments, and in this case, the collateral is your home. In other words, the bank will kick you out and take possession of your house if you can’t make payments. In order to prevent this from happening, the lender will typically conduct a detailed review of the borrower’s finances in order to determine how much they can reasonably afford to …

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Buying a home vs. Renting: Which is better?

Buying your home is one of the biggest financial decisions of your life. However, it is a big commitment and there are a lot of hidden costs and factors that can make it unaffordable for some. Because of the costliness of buying a home outright, many buyers turn to renting instead, especially in expensive housing markets like London, New York, and Hong Kong. Determining which option is best for you depends on a variety of factors, and not everyone’s situation is alike. To help with this important decision, let’s take a look at some of the key differences between buying and renting.

Buying

When buying a house, it’s likely you’ll need to apply for a mortgage. To get a mortgage, you need a deposit (usually at least 10% of the home’s value) and a steady income in order to make repayments. The greater your deposit and income, the more your bank or lender will be able to offer you. However, if you live in an expensive area, or have a low salary and little savings, buying may not be for …

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How has remote working affected rent prices in Ireland?

Because of the pandemic, so many people across Ireland have transitioned to remote work. While reopening is underway, it will still be some time before the majority of the workforce is back in their offices. During the pandemic, many people who lived and worked in major cities like Dublin found themselves returning to their home counties due to the opportunity to work from home. The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) has found that a trend may be beginning with this movement of people away from urban centers due to covid-19.

Rents have increased across the State in the first three months of 2021 when compared to that same time period from last year. But perhaps as a reflection of people’s shift to remote work, rents have seen their sharpest increases outside of Dublin. During the first three months of the year, rents as a whole have seen a rise of 4.5 percent compared to the first quarter of last year. The nationwide average rent in euros for this quarter comes out to be €1,320, an increase of €33 when compared with …

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What is an Equity Release and how does it work?

Your equity in your home is how much you own. Think of it as the amount of your mortgage that you have already paid off, or the difference between your home’s market value and what you still owe the lender. So, once you have paid off your mortgage completely, you have 100% equity: you own it entirely. But as the value of your home appreciates, there is no immediate benefit to you in terms of cash. You will not be able to profit from the increase in value until you sell your property, and if you never sell, your estate and beneficiaries will be the only ones who are better off.

An equity release mortgage offers a way around this. These mortgages are becoming increasingly popular for homeowners aged 55 and older, as they give you a way to benefit from the equity you have built up in your home. An equity release involves a lender giving you a portion of the value of your home as a lump sum or a series of payments, in exchange for interest or …

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New Green mortgage offering one of Ireland’s lowest rates

AIB’s mortgage subsidiary Haven has launched a new, four-year, fixed rate green mortgage with one of the lowest rates currently available on the market.

Haven is a wholly-owned subsidiary of AIB which focuses solely on mortgage distribution through brokers. They offer a broad selection of fixed and variable rate mortgages to customers including first time buyers, movers, switchers, and investors.

The mortgage has a rate of 2.15 percent, and applies to both new and existing customers with a Building Energy Rating (BER) of between A1 and B3. The BER cert must also be less than 10 years old in order to be eligible. All new builds are expected to qualify for the low rate, and existing customers who remodel their home to meet the BER requirements will also qualify.

According to AIB, this low rate could result in substantial savings for the average customer. The lender reports that the new rate allows customers of a 25 year, €300,000 mortgage to save €155 monthly. This equates to a savings of €1,800 per year over the lifetime of the loan, when compared …

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COVID-19’s biggest effect on the Irish financial world

There is no doubt that the covid-19 pandemic has changed the financial landscape as we know it.

The pandemic has increased online shopping by great amounts, has changed the way individuals invest in the stock market, and has lead to many central banks around the world printing large sums of money in order to pay unemployment benefits and provide essential aid to businesses both small and large. Investors have began to hedge against growing inflation of currencies around the world by investing in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, sending them to sky-high prices.

But perhaps covid-19’s biggest – and surely its most noticeable –  effect has been a massive increase in contactless payments. Use of cash was already on the decline, but business closures and other covid restrictions, as well as new development in the fintech sector, have seen card and mobile payments soar to record highs.

Contactless payments such as Apple Pay and Google Pay, as well as the new chip and tap-to-pay features included on most debit cards, are fast, easy and sanitary. And let’s face it, it’s much more …

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Why are investment funds buying up Irish Property?

Large-scale private rented sector (PRS) investors, sometimes called vulture or cuckoo funds, have rapidly become a major force in the Irish property market over the last few years.

As recently as 2017, these funds were a minor and insignificant part of the housing market. However, these firms have spent more than €6 billion buying Irish homes, apartment buildings, and commercial properties over the last three and a half years.

The cuckoo funds show no sign of slowing down in 2021, as they have spent €1.5 billion so far this year, according to recent figures from estate agents and property adviser JLL. Most of these funds are backed by international investors, and have quickly become big players in the market, particularly investing in deals for new apartments in Dublin.

But what is driving this relatively new and rapidly growing force in the market?

Analysts say that an influx of cash in European markets, lack of yields in traditional assets including bonds, and the huge surge in housing demand and high rent prices in Ireland have combined to create a very lucrative …

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Central Bank accused of unjust regulations on credit unions

Credit union chief executives have recently criticized the Central Bank’s regulations on the sector, calling them “excessive and unjustified”. After conducting research, a group of CEOs from credit unions across Ireland, chaired by Queen’s University Belfast professor Donal McKillop, have claimed that under the Central Bank’s current regulations, Irish credit unions are forced to set aside unjustifiably high levels of their capital into reserves, much higher than that of Irish and European banks.

Under the Central Bank’s current rules, credit unions must set aside a minimum of 10 percent of their total assets in reserves. This means that when a credit union member saves €100 with a credit union, the credit union must then put €10 in its reserves, if a member saves €1000, the credit union must put €100 in reserves, and so on. In its research paper, the Credit Union CEO Forum deemed these rates “excessive” and many credit unions have put limits on amount of savings they will accept from members, with some capping savings at just €10,000.

The CEO Forum’s paper states that these reserve capital …

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