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Stamp duty on block-buying homes to be reviewed

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien has told the Dáil that the 10% stamp duty rate, which is applicable to international investors who buy more than 10 residential properties, will be reviewed.

He was replying to the Sinn Féin finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty who said that such investors are block-buying new homes at a rate of one transaction a month – but the government is bluffing that it is addressing the problem.

Deputy Doherty said figures supplied to him yesterday by the Finance Minister Michael McGrath show that the rate of block-buying has accelerated rather than decreased over the past three years since the Government introduced a 10% stamp duty – rising from more than 180 homes in 2021 to more than 620 in 2023.

Deputy Doherty contended that the government “feigned” taking action by introducing “half-baked measures” – actions he said that only paid “lip service” rather than actually tackling the problem.

He said he warned the government that its measures wouldn’t work back in 2021 and said it has proven to be the case in 2024.

The Sinn Féin finance spokesperson said “the only logical conclusion” was that the Government was “on the side of the vulture funds” whereas his party would take action to eradicate the practice.

In reply, Darragh O’Brien said what Sinn Féin neglected to say was that the Government had changed planning law in 2021 to stop the bulk-buying of homes but the sales quoted by Pearse Doherty related to planning permissions which pre-dated that.

Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty described the 10% stamp duty as a ‘half-baked measure’

He said the issue needed to be put in context was that the there had been 125,000 property transactions over that period and therefore the bulk-buying of homes by institutional investors related to less than 1% of that total.

The Minister said the government backed first time buyers where as Sinn Féin had promised to abolish supports, like the First Home scheme.

He told the Dáil that commencement figures for the month of December would be 3,167 – a 76% increase on the previous year.

Minister O’Brien said the Government was exceeding its targets with 600 mortgages being draw down a week – the highest rate since 2007.

He added, however, that the 10% stamp duty rate for international investors would be examined.

Emigration to Australia at highest level in 16 years

Social Democrats have accused the Government of leaving young people with no hope of home ownership leaving them with no choice but to move abroad.

Party leader Holly Cairns said that more than 21,000 Irish people went to Australia on working holiday visas last year – the highest number in 16 years.

She said they did not want to leave but they had no option as they were living in their childhood bedrooms.

“Your approach has failed and you are in a state of denial.”

She referred to the move by an investment fund in a North Dublin housing estate and she said the Government had a flippant attitude towards it and were downplaying it.

She said the 10% stamp duty was no disincentive and she said Sinn Féin’s 17% plan was too weak.

The party’s housing spokesperson Cian O’Callaghan has proposed 100% stamp duty for such purchases meaning there would be an effective ban on them.

Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien said he rejected that the Government were dealing with housing in a flippant way.

He also said 30,000 Irish people returned from Australia last year.

He pointed to Cost Rental, the Help to Buy scheme, and the First Home scheme as measures brought in by Government which the Social Democrats all voted against.

Additional reporting by Sandra Hurley

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