With affordability now back at 1997 levels, first time buyers are in prime position to get on the property ladder. To support customers unable to get to the bank during the week, AIB is opening two branches on Saturdays until the end of March. The branches in Lynch’s Castle and the Tuam Road will open from 11am to 3pm every Saturday until March 28. While the branches will not operate a cash service , the opening will give customers the chance to call into the branch to discuss their mortgage, personal, or business finance needs.
In January AIB issued more than 1,000 mortgages. In quarter four of 2008 the bank issued 20 per cent of all first time buyer mortgages, which was an increase on quarter four 2007 when it issued 10 per cent. With a new one-year fixed interest rate for first time buyers of 2.49 per cent, along with improved affordability in the housing market, first time buyers have had their hand strengthened considerably. Repayments for first time buyers are down by more than €500 per month in the first year, based on a combination of the drop in house prices and the reduction in fixed rate pricing. This is a conservative estimate based on a published industry index which shows prices down c14 per cent year on year, while anecdotal evidence suggests Irish house prices could have fallen further, meaning repayments have fallen by even more.
According to an AIB global treasury economic research report issued this month, dynamics are beginning to change in the Irish housing market and, while problems still remain, over time the reduced level of housing output and improved affordability conditions will help stabilise the market. Price cuts of 30 per cent or more are being seen on many new developments and in the second-hand market. With affordability expected to continue to improve, first time buyers are seeing more opportunities to get on the property ladder. They can also benefit from the increase in the rate of mortgage interest relief in the first two years of a mortgage from 20 per cent to 25 per cent.
The opening of these two branches on Saturdays is a positive development for those in the Galway region.
“We are voluntarily opening these two branches with our customers in mind, to give them the additional time to come and talk to us about mortgages,” said Frank Greene, senior manager at AIB Lynch’s Castle. “With affordability levels back at their late 1990s levels, first time buyers now have a have a fantastic opportunity to get on the property ladder.
“AIB is best placed to provide mortgages for house hunters as we have a very competitive and comprehensive package,” he added. “We offer first time buyers a one year fixed interest rate of 2.49 per cent, a sanction of up to 92 per cent of the purchase price, and a one stop shop for life assurance and home insurance. We look forward to welcoming first time buyers and anyone else interested in discussing their business and personal finances on Saturdays into AIB Tuam Road or Lynch’s Castle, or at any time during the week to our seven other branches in Galway.”