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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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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Advantages and Disadvantages of a long-term mortgage

In a major market innovation in the Irish Mortgage Market, Finance Ireland and Avant Money have introduced new long term mortgages. While longer term mortgages have never really took off in Ireland, they are very popular in other parts of Europe and worldwide. These mortgages can be attractive to borrowers for a number of reasons, but it is important to also consider the potential downsides before making the switch.

Pros

One of the biggest advantages provided by long term mortgage products is certainty. Unlike a two or three year fixed term, a 10 or 20 year mortgage will allow your monthly mortgage repayments to remain unchanged throughout the duration of the loan. This reliable and predictable payment can be very helpful when planning out your monthly and yearly personal finances. It also can be very helpful in determining what your home will cost after factoring in interest. With a long term fixed rate, you will be able to know exactly how much the home will cost you right away, while a shorter term fixed rate will change over the lifetime …

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Cryptocurrency: Market trend or the future of Finance?

Over the past year you have probably heard a lot of buzz surrounding the world of cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency is essentially a form of payment that can be exchanged online for goods and services. Cryptocurrencies operate using a technology called blockchain, which is a decentralized form of recording and managing transactions that is spread across many computers. One of the main advantages of using blockchain to manage cryptocurrency transactions is to increase security of these transactions. Cryptocurrencies are also increasingly being used as a speculative investment in addition to purchasing goods and services. While over 10,000 cryptocurrencies are traded publicly, the most valuable and most famous is Bitcoin. Bitcoin first rose to prominence in December 2017 when its value skyrocketed to almost $20,000, before falling down to $3200 just a year later. This extreme price volatility among bitcoin and other cryptocurrency has prompted debate among investors and analysts over whether bitcoin is a legitimate currency and the future of finance as we know it, or just another speculative investment.

Critics of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies point to its volatility and extreme …

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Central Bank warns of New Home shortage

House prices have been surging in Ireland lately, and the new home market has been hit especially hard. The rise in house prices has been caused by a number of factors, and significantly accelerated due to the economic strains of the Covid-19 pandemic. Two recent reports from property websites myhome.ie and daft.ie have suggested that home prices are currently inflating at a 13 percent annual rate. Now, the Central Bank has warned that the pandemic will have a significant affect on the housing supply for the foreseeable future. The Central Bank projects that approximately 25,000 fewer new homes will be built between 2020 and 2023 when compared to pre-pandemic projections.

Among the many factors already driving an increase in pricing has been pent up savings. Consumers have had significantly less things to spend money on since March of last year, especially during those times when the country was under level 5 lockdowns-the strictest possible measure. People have not been able to shop at non-essential retail stores, eat or drink at their favorite pubs, or commute to work, leading to a …

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What is the Help to Buy Incentive?

The Help to Buy incentive is a program from the Irish Government that provides relief to first time buyers of a new home or apartment. The amount of relief granted through this incentive was recently increased due to economic pressures brought on by the Covid 19 pandemic. In the July 2020 Jobs stimulus package, the Government increased the amount of relief available temporarily through 31 December 2020. With the passing of Budget 2021, this increased relief has been extended to 31 December 2021. The incentive gives a refund of income tax and Deposit Interest Retention tax (DIRT) paid in Ireland over the previous 4 years to qualifying first time buyers.

Help to Buy only applies to properties worth less than €500,000, and the home or apartment must be new or self built. To qualify for Help to Buy, you must be a first time buyer who either buys or self-builds a new residential property between 19 July 2016 and 31 December 2021. However, the Help to Buy scheme does not apply to rental or investment properties. The scheme is limited …

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5 Mortgage tips for first time buyers in Ireland

If you’re buying your first home in Ireland, chances are you will need to finance it using a mortgage. Getting a mortgage is a very big commitment, and may seem overwhelming, especially considering that if you miss too many payments, the bank may foreclose your home. However, mortgage approval rates for first time buyers are on the rise, and if you’re feeling uneasy, here are 5 tips to make the process a little less scary.

1. Budget and save effectively

You won’t get a mortgage without having a deposit ready, so it is important for prospective homeowners to open a savings account and start budgeting for their deposit. The lender will be looking to determine your ‘repayment capacity’, assessing your current expenses and financial situation. Mainly, they will be looking to see that the amount you save each month is greater than or equal to your mortgage costs. Be sure to limit overdraft fees and excessive spending, particularly gambling-related expenses, on your bank statements, as this will look bad to lenders.

2. Have a good credit rating

It is essential …

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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 house prices surging in Ireland?

House prices in Ireland have surged in the last 12 months. Two separate reports have pointed to a 13 percent increase in house prices over the last twelve months, both in Dublin and nationwide. Property website myhome.ie, which is owned by The Irish Times, pointed to a ‘red hot’ demand outpacing supply as one of the main reasons for this increase in their latest quarterly report. According to MyHome, house prices nationally increased 13 per cent to €303,000 in the second quarter of 2021, breaking the €300,000 mark for the first time in recorded history. In Dublin specifically, they found the average price to be €412,000, representing a 10.6 percent increase on the year. Daft.ie, another property website, reported similar increases in the price of homes on its website, up 13 per cent on the year to €284,000, the highest such increase since 2015.  This increase means house prices have increased for four consecutive quarters, the first time this has happened since 2014.

This substantial increase put house prices nationally 14.3 per cent lower than their highest-ever level in 2007. …

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Spanish Bank Transforms Irish Mortgage Market

Spanish mortgage provider Avant Money has just introduced a new range of products that have the potential to transform the Irish mortgage market. Avant Money has become the first mortgage provider in Ireland to offer a 30 year, fixed rate mortgage. In this type of mortgage, the repayments will be the same every month for the entire 30 year lifetime of the loan. Avant Money’s new fixed rate mortgages have lifetimes between 15 and 30 years, and offer rates as low as 2.25 %. These new long term offerings were introduced shortly after Finance Ireland shook up the market with its innovative 20 year mortgage. These latest moves by brokers represent a huge step for the Irish market, as product offerings here are beginning to more closely resemble that of Spain and France.

Because wholesale interest rates are currently at historic lows, homeowners in Ireland are more increasingly taking out longer term fixed rate loans. Avant Money’s new portfolio of products includes 15 year, 20 year, 25 year, and 30 year fixed rate mortgages, and the rates vary based on …

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