Help to Buy Scheme
What is the Help to Buy Scheme?
The Help to Buy (HTB) Scheme helps first-time buyers purchase a newly-built house or apartment. You can also get it for once-off self-build homes. It only applies to properties that cost €500,000 or less.
The HTB Scheme was increased in July 2020. This increase is known as the Enhanced Help to Buy Scheme. The Enhanced Help to Buy Scheme is available until 31 December 2024.
In Budget 2024, the Enhanced Help to Buy Scheme was extended to 31 December 2025. The scheme was also amended to allow applicants using the Local Authority Affordable Purchase Scheme to buy their home to qualify for the Help to Buy Scheme. This came into effect on 11 October 2023.
Do I qualify for the Help to Buy Scheme?
About your property ownership
To qualify you must be a first-time buyer who buys or self-builds a new residential property between 1 January 2017 and 31 December 2025. (The scheme was available if you bought or built a home between 19 July 2016 and 31 December 2016, but you had to claim it before 31/12/2019).
If you are buying or building the property with someone else, they must also be a first-time buyer.
You will not qualify if:
- You have previously bought or built a house or apartment, either by yourself or with someone else. This applies even if you are now separated or divorced from that person and have given up your interest in the property.
- You have owned a home abroad
- You don't plan on living in the property as your main home for at least 5 years after buying or building it (HTB is not available for investment properties)
- You have not taken out a mortgage for the property
If you have inherited or been gifted a property and you want to buy or build a new property, you may still qualify for HTB as long as you meet all the other conditions of the scheme. Contact Revenue if you have questions about this.
About your mortgage
To qualify, you must take out a mortgage with a qualifying lender. The mortgage must be at least 70% of:
- The purchase value of the property if you are buying a newly built home. The purchase value is normally the price you pay for the property. However, if the purchase price is less than the market value, the purchase value will be the market value.
- The valuation approved by the mortgage provider, if you are building your home. The approved valuation is the valuation of the property at the time you take out the mortgage.
This is known as the loan to value ratio.
You are allowed to have a guarantor on the loan. A guarantor is someone who agrees to have the responsibility to pay your mortgage if you don't or can't pay it. For example, your guarantor could be a parent or close relative. If you have a guarantor on the loan, they do not have to be a first-time buyer.
Your mortgage and shared equity schemes
If you are getting help to buy your home with a shared equity scheme like the First Home Scheme or the Local Authority Affordable Purchase Scheme, this funding is not considered when calculating the loan to value ratio for the HTB Scheme. Only your mortgage amount is considered.
For example, if you are buying a home that costs €365,000 and have been approved for a mortgage of €224,000 and have equity funding of €73,000, you will not qualify for HTB. The equity funding is not considered when calculating the LTV, so your LTV is 61% based on your mortgage. This means you have not reached the 70% minimum LTV requirement and do not qualify for HTB.
With the Local Authority Affordable Purchase Scheme, you must also remember to use the market value of the property and not the reduced purchase price when calculating if your mortgage qualifies for HTB.
You must meet certain tax requirements to qualify for the scheme.
- You must be fully tax compliant for 4 years immediately before your claim
- You will need to complete online form 12 (PAYE) and Form 11 (self-assessed) for each of those 4 years. You must also pay any outstanding taxes that are due.
- You must be registered for Revenue’s online myAccount service, if you pay tax through PAYE
- You must be registered for Revenue Online Service ROS, if you are a self-assessed taxpayer
Does my new home qualify for the Help to Buy Scheme?
Your new home must meet certain criteria to qualify for the Help to Buy scheme.
- The property you buy or build must be a new residential property. It must never have been used, or have been suitable for use, as a residential property before. If the property was non-residential before, but has been converted for residential use, it may qualify for HTB.
- If you are buying a new home, the market value of the property must be €500,000 or less. In most cases the market value is the price you pay for the property. However, if the price has been subsidised, for example, if you are buying a home from your local authority under the Local Authority Affordable Purchase Scheme, you must use the market value.
- If you are building your home, the approved valuation of your home must be €500,000 or less. The valuation is approved by your mortgage provider and is valued at the time the mortgage is entered into. It includes the cost of the site.
- If you are buying your new home, the contractor or developer you buy it from must be approved by Revenue. Revenue has a list of approved developers and contractors, so you can check that they are approved.
- If you are building your own home, you will need a solicitor (registered with Revenue as a ‘HTB approver’) to verify your HTB claim
- You must live in the property for at least 5 years from the date that it is habitable
You will have to pay the HTB payment back if you do not live there for 5 years. For more on this, see ‘Can Revenue ask me to repay the Help to Buy payment?’ below.
How much can I claim?
Enhanced Help to Buy Scheme
The maximum amount available was temporarily increased in 2020 and applies until 31 December 2025.
If you sign a contract for a new house, or draw down on a self-build mortgage, between 23 July 2020 and 31 December 2025, you can get the increased relief.
You can claim relief on the lesser of:
- 10% of the market value of a new build property
- 10% of the approved valuation of a self-build property
- The amount of income tax and DIRT you paid for the 4 years before the year you apply. (You cannot claim relief on PRSI or USC).
The maximum payment is €30,000 per qualifying property under the enhanced scheme. This cap applies regardless of how many people are involved in buying the property.
You can read more about the Enhanced Help to Buy Scheme on Revenue.ie.
Original Help to Buy Scheme
If you signed a contract for a new house, or drew down on a self-build mortgage between 1 January 2017 and 22 July 2020, you qualify for the original relief.
You can claim relief on the lesser of:
- 5% of the market value of a new build property
- 5% of the approved valuation of a self-build property
- The amount of income tax and DIRT you paid in the 4 years before the year you apply
The maximum payment is €20,000 per qualifying property under the original scheme. This cap applies regardless of how many people are involved in buying the property.
|Market value or valuation||1 January 2017 to 22 July 2020||23 July 2020 to 31 December 2025|
|Up to €500,000||
Relief of up to 5% of purchase price, or
5% of approved valuation, or
Relief of up to 10% of purchase price, or
10% of approved valuation, or
|Over €500,000||No relief||No relief|
Can Revenue ask me to repay the Help to Buy payment?
You will have to repay Revenue some or all of your Help to Buy payment in certain situations. This is called clawback.
You have to pay the HTB payment back to Revenue if you:
- Do not live in the home for at least 5 years
- Do not complete the purchase of the home
- Do not finish building the home
- Were not entitled to the payment in the first place
If you do not live in the home for 5 years, the amount you must repay depends on how long you lived there.
This table shows how much you have to repay depending on how long you lived in the home.
HTB applies to houses and apartments, so better to say home to cover this.
Number of years living in the home
% of clawback
There are some exceptions to this. For example, if you bought or built the home with another first-time buyer and you want to move out, but they want to stay for at least 5 years, you will not have to repay the HTB.
There is also an exception if you need to relocate temporarily for work. Find out more about this in Revenue’s Help to Buy guidance (pdf).
Can Revenue ask my contractor to repay the Help to Buy payment?
Your qualifying contractor will have to repay the HTB payment if:
- You have not bought the home within 2 years of the contractor getting the HTB payment
- Revenue thinks you will not purchase the home within 2 years of the contractor getting the HTB payment
In certain cases, Revenue will be flexible about this. For example, if the home is almost finished after 2 years and is likely to be completed shortly.
How to apply
There are 3 stages to the online application process:
- The application stage
- The claim stage
- The verification stage
If you are a PAYE employee only, you can apply for the Help to Buy Scheme through Revenue’s myAccount service.
If you are a self-assessed taxpayer, you can apply through Revenue’s Online Service (ROS).
You will also need access to MyEnquiries, a secure method of corresponding with Revenue.
- If you are a ROS business user, you can access MyEnquiries from your My Services screen under ‘Other Services’
- If you are a PAYE employee only, you can access MyEnquiries through myAccount
If you are tax compliant, your application will be approved and you will be given a summary of the maximum amount you can claim.
Once your application is approved you can make your claim using ROS or MyAccount. You will need to provide documents about your mortgage and confirm details about the property at this stage. Revenue has a Help to Buy – Summary Guide for Applicants which has detailed information about what documents you will need and how to make your claim.
The information you have provided is verified by an eligible verifier. This is the contractor if you are buying a new home, or your solicitor if you are building your home.
You can get full details of the process from Revenue.
How do I get the refund?
If you buy a new build, the refund is paid directly to the contractor. If you self-build the property, the refund is paid to a bank account you hold with your loan provider.