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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Mortgage arrears in Ireland fall despite pandemic’s economic effects

Over the past year, the covid-19 pandemic has caused many economic challenges for Irish citizens and people worldwide. Between level 5 lockdowns, business closures, and soaring levels of unemployment, it would be logical to believe that people may be falling behind on payments, especially mortgages, which are most people’s largest and most important monthly payment. However, recent data shows that the number of mortgages in arrears actually  decreased during the first quarter of 2021, despite level 5 lockdowns and record high unemployment rates.

Recent data from the Central Bank shows that the number of family home loans in arrears decreased by 2,838 during the first three months of 2021. During this period, the Covid-adjusted unemployment rate hit its peak of 25.1 per cent in early January, as thousands of businesses were forced to close their doors due to level 5 lockdowns. This is surprising given that the number of people behind on their mortgage payments actually decreased, while conventional wisdom would expect to see an increase in arrears. This contrast suggests that government supports, such as pandemic unemployment benefits, have …

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Why are Mortgage Interest Rates so High in Ireland?

Recent reports from the Central Bank of Ireland indicate that mortgage holders in Ireland are still paying much higher interest rates as compared to most of their  neighbors in Europe. Therefore, why are people in Ireland paying high mortgage rates and is there a way to reduce it? Currently the  interest rate for a first-time buyer is at 2.79 percent, which means that it is now the highest in all of the 19 countries in Europe together with Greece. Despite the fact that the interest rates have dropped by 0.11 percent as compared to last year, they are still way more than what is being charged in other places in Europe where the average rate is as little as 1.31 percent. 

In a report by the Banking and Payment Federation of Ireland (BPFI), the mortgage for a first-time-buyer in Ireland is approximately €225,000. Basically, this means that someone who borrows this amount with the hopes of repaying it in 30 years ends up paying an extra of €167 per month and over €2,000 annually as compared to other countries …

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4 Easy Ways to Improve your Financial Literacy

Financial literacy is one of the most important and underrated skills that anyone can have. Understanding basic financial concepts such as mortgages, inflation, and interest rates is critical for financial success. Once you unlock this knowledge, you will be better equipped to effectively manage, save, and invest money for you and your family. This knowledge, combined with other good financial habits, is the key to financial well being and freedom later on in life. While everyone has varying degrees of financial literacy, there is an overwhelming amount of resources available to expand your knowledge on financial topics.

 

Read Personal Finance Books

If you enjoy reading, there is no shortage of finance books that cover a broad variety of topics, from eliminating debt to saving for retirement. One book recommended by Forbes magazine that covers the latter is Rewirement: Rewiring The Way You Think About Retirement!, by Jaime Hopkins. This book tackles common misconceptions and bad habits that prevent people from having flexible and successful retirement plans. For a variety of books on many topics, check out Insider’s …

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Could harsher punishments for mortgages in arrears lead to lower rates?

Mortgages are notoriously expensive in Ireland, with rates twice those of the Eurozone average. How best to address this problem has been a hot-button issue in Ireland for some time. Now, some are putting forward a new solution: harsher punishments for borrowers with mortgages in arrears. One of Irish banks’ stated reasons for rates being so high is that failing to meet mortgage payments doesn’t have high enough consequences for borrowers. For example, home repossessions in Ireland aren’t very common, since the process is so complex and can take several years. As a result, loans are riskier investments for lenders in Ireland relative to other Eurozone countries. If this is indeed the reason for rates being high, it follows that tougher treatment of such borrowers would lead to lower rates for everyone else.

Regarding the number of borrowers this would affect, statistics from the Central Bank of Ireland show that 5.3% of all principle dwelling house (PDH) mortgage accounts were in arrears as of December 2020. This percentage includes a total of 38,785 accounts. However, it’s also worth noting …

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Covid-19’s impact on mortgages

The covid-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on all areas of the financial world, including banks, loans, and mortgages. Mortgage arrears, or payments failed to be made by their original specified due date, had been consistently falling every year since 2013. However, Fitch predicts that arrears of at least 90 days will constitute about 14-16% of Irish home loans this year, their highest rate since the financial crisis.

Additionally, the pandemic has led to widespread payment breaks for mortgages in Ireland. Payment breaks involve the deferring of repayment of a loan to a later date; they do not change, however, reduce the total amount to be paid. In March of last year, the major banks in Ireland agreed to industry-wide payment breaks for those facing financial hardship as a result of the pandemic. This was done out of consideration for borrowers’ situations and lenders’ own desire to avoid high default rates. Ultimately, by May 2020, one in nine owner-occupier mortgage payments was on such a break.

Though this measure was taken of the industry’s own volition, soon after, the …

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KBC latest in Irish bank exodus

Belgian-based KBC has become the latest lender to announce its intent to leave the Irish market. The announcement came on the morning of Friday, April 16, and is part of a broader exodus of retail banks from the country. Just weeks prior, NatWest, the UK-based owner of Ulster Bank, stated that it would scale back its operations in Ireland considerably over the course of the next year. KBC is also in talks with Bank of Ireland to sell its existing loans and deposits.

Why have banks been so keen on exiting the Irish loan market? In the case of Ulster Bank, it had been struggling to make returns on investment deemed acceptable by NatWest. KBC’s chief executive, Johan Thijs, stated that talks with Bank of Ireland were being conducted in light of “…the challenging operational context for European banks…” One potential explanation for this trend is the relatively low interest rate environment of Ireland making it difficult for banks to see adequate returns. Further, the market saw a general trend downward from 2015 to 2020, with an average industry …

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State of the European Stock Market

European stocks have seen better days than the dip they are currently experiencing. This dip has largely been due to the rising bond yields seen in the market. These have spurred hopes of seeing a solid economic recovery in the European markets. As of this past Thursday, the Dublin market closed virtually unchanged compared to recent numbers. Banks, on the other hand, had been affected more wildly with the Bank of Ireland up nearly 2.5% and the AIB up nearly 3.6%.

Housebuilders have also seen some changes in the market with Bairn Homes closing at nearly 1.9% higher. For other industries such as food stocks, Glanbia closed at nearly a 1.6% increase. For London’s Ftse 100 reversed, they were able to close with a relatively strong week. The total of the Gtse 100 index closed at 0.4% higher, which is the second consecutive week that investors have seen a rise despite the coronavirus still being prevalent. Even though there has been looser COVID-19 restrictions and the vaccination program picking up speed.

Other Bank stocks such as HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, …

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Is combining Finance the right thing to do?

Finally! Today is the day, your significant other is moving in with you!  A dream that finally came true and you both are dancing happily. But then, the first rent bill comes, and you are stuck. How should I handle or now how do WE handle it? Back in the day, typically couples were married and combined all aspects of their lives together. All was now family property. Times have changed, couples are moving in together before marriage without any legal binding and it leaves them wondering, how do we handle our finances? Should you and your significant other consolidate your finances or maintain your own finances independently?

How many couples have their finances shared, separated, or some of both? Millennials that live together are more likely to keep their finances separated than any other group. There are many advantages to keeping them separate. One may be in a situation where they hold debt. With debt in their shadows, it is easy to understand why they may feel guilty to burden the other with their problems. Or you may have …

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Zero cost changes can help your financial journey become better

Living a healthy financial life does not always mean spending as little money that it brings the joy out of life but bringing enjoyment in ways to spend or save money. Of course, investing in good furniture rather than the cheap table that the paint chips is a much better choice. But there are also plenty of other ways to upgrade your life by changing things out for no extra costs.

Using your existing memberships to access free and complementary goods.

Did you look closely at the membership you paid for? Chances you did not. Many of our memberships give us access to free shows or movies like Amazon Prime or free access to airport lounges. There is a lot of value we are paying into our memberships already. Like magazines or books, they can be expensive to subscribe to each month or purchase individually. At the library, they already hold many of these subscriptions and publications which we can check out for no costs. For instance, some libraries provided a handful of museum memberships the public can check out …

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