Moving home or abroad: Applying for a mortgage in Ireland
In this guide, we provide Irish expats with advice on how to best prepare themselves for applying for a mortgage after they move back to Ireland.
For those of you who are hoping to begin your mortgage journey once you return to Ireland, you will be happy to learn that being an expat won’t hinder your application.
However, you should be aware that your banking history from the country you previously lived in, such as Australia, will be taken into consideration by your mortgage lender and will be a deciding factor as to whether you are granted a mortgage.
So with that in mind, let's take a look at some helpful tips that will prepare you for applying for a mortgage once you return to Ireland. We will also explore what mortgage options are available to you.
9 top tips to ensure you’re prepared to apply for a mortgage
Irish expats should:
1. Have a healthy credit history
- Lenders will look at the last five years of your credit history, both in Ireland and abroad.
- Therefore, any gambling accounts, direct debit defaults, or outstanding debts associated with foreign accounts will have an impact on your mortgage journey here.
- Before returning home, you should work towards improving and achieving a good credit score.
2. Be prepared for a foreign credit check
- This will only remain valid for a month, so you may need to get it refreshed during the mortgage application process.
3. Make regular savings into a savings account
- This shows lenders that you’re financially responsible and indicates that you can consistently repay your mortgage.
4. Organise your bank statements
- You will have to declare all open bank accounts you have abroad with your mortgage lender.
- You will need to provide statements for the past six months from all your bank accounts. Be sure to organise these before you return to Ireland.
- Lenders will examine your banking habits and wages to determine your eligibility for and ability to repay a mortgage.
Top tip for renters: If you are renting while living abroad, make sure that your rent money is mandated from your account each month and clearly labelled as rent payments.
If you pay your landlord in cash, there is no paper trail to show that you are financially responsible, meaning lenders will be less likely to provide you with a mortgage.
5. Pay off any outstanding loans
- Ensure your foreign loans are paid off.
- If they aren't then the amount of money you can borrow will be reduced, you could be subjected to a higher mortgage rate, or you could fail the mortgage affordability check.
6. Have a permanent job
- You will need to have a permanent job to be considered for a mortgage.
- This is because lenders will determine the amount you can borrow based on your salary. In Ireland, you can only borrow four times your income as per the Central Bank of Ireland lending rules.
- Passing probation and securing a permanent job will usually take at least six months. However, most lenders prefer to lend to mortgage applicants who have been working in Ireland for at least 12 months.
- You will not be approved for a mortgage during your probationary period.
- You will need to provide your last three payslips to your lender to prove your employment and ability to repay your mortgage.
It's important to note: If your job is based in another country but you are working remotely in Ireland permanently, you will need a letter from your foreign employer stating this. This will show lenders that you have a stable and secure income.
If you’re self-employed
Lenders will accept applications from self-employed expats on a case-by-case basis. You must ensure that:
- You’ve been trading for three years.
- You have an up-to-date tax confirmation.
- You can provide six months of bank statements from where your company is banking from.
- You can provide six months of personal bank statements.
If you decide to set up your business in Ireland once you return, your lender will have to make sure that your business is able to achieve the same level of turnover in Ireland as it did abroad. You will need around a year to prove you can reach this level of turnover before applying for a mortgage.
7. Have an Irish bank account
This is a requirement for lenders because your salary, mortgage repayments, and deposit will need to be mandated from your Irish current account.
Before your mortgage is drawn down, you will need to ensure you have opened an Irish bank account, and that your deposit is in euros and has been transferred into said account.
8. Keep an eye on the currency exchange rate
Be aware of the exchange rate when transferring your deposit over to your account as a fluctuation of rates can result in the deposit needed for your home increasing. You should also be aware of this in regards to your salary when determining the mortgage you can afford to apply for.
9. Get your mortgage approval
Securing an approval in principle will help you in your mortgage journey, as some auctioneers will only allow you to bid on a house if you have mortgage approval or you can pay the money for the house upfront.
Mortgage approval can last anywhere between six to 12 months depending on your lender.
The types of mortgages available to returned Irish expats
Let’s take a look at the different deposits required of Irish expats who have returned to Ireland. For instance, if you are:
A first-time buyer:
- You will be subject to the same deposit and interest rates as Irish citizens who have been living in Ireland permanently.
- To avail of this, you nor your partner can have bought a home in any other country.
- The required deposit for a first-time buyer is 10%, meaning you will be lent 90% of the value of your house.
- Help-to-Buy Scheme: As a returning expat you will most likely not be able to qualify for this scheme as you will not have paid the necessary tax needed over the past four years to be eligible for it.
- First Home Scheme: You are eligible for this scheme, which allows the Government to take a share in your home in return for them providing you with up to 30% of the property price.
A second-time buyer:
- The required deposit for a second-time buyer is 10%, meaning you will receive a loan of 90%.
Irish expats who want to apply for a mortgage while living abroad
If you plan to move back to Ireland in the near future or purchase a holiday home, you can apply for a buy-to-let mortgage. These mortgages for Non-Residents of Ireland are currently available from AIB, Haven and Permanent TSB for example.
These mortgages have different criteria that their applicants must meet, and you will be required to supply a larger deposit than expats who have returned to Ireland to buy. You will also be subjected to higher rates of interest.
For instance, with:
- They offer FX loans (foreign currency mortgages)
- You will need a downpayment of 35%
- You will get 65% of a loan-to-value
- Your salary will be put under a 20% stress test if is in a foreign currency
- You will need to sign your documents in person or use a notoriety in the country you live in
* AIB uses a stress test when calculating the four times salary for your mortgage. It tests the exchange rate of the currency you’re earning in by 20% to determine if you would be able to afford your mortgage if your salary was affected by a sudden fluctuation in exchange rates.
- They offer mortgages in euros only
- You will need a downpayment of 30%
- You must have a minimum income of €75,000
- Your salary must be paid in euros
- You must live in the Eurozone
Discover what documents are needed for your mortgage application
The documents needed to apply for a mortgage include:
- A signed mortgage application form
- A salary cert from your employer
- Your last three payslips
- Bank statements from the last six months (from your Irish and foreign accounts)
You can discover the other documents needed to apply for a mortgage here.
Check out our other expat guides
If you found this article useful, why not take a look at the other guides in the moving abroad or returning home series.
- To get started, check out our Quickstart Guide, which outlines what every guide in the series covers.
- Are you considering closing your bank account and cancelling your energy and broadband deal before you move abroad? Discover how you can do this in our guide here.
- Looking for information about car insurance? Take a look at our guide on what to do about motor insurance if moving abroad or returning to Ireland.
- Whether it's life, home, health or mortgage protection insurance, this guide will answer all your insurance-related questions if you’re moving away or coming back to Ireland for good.
Find the best value mortgage rates on bonkers.ie
Head over to our free mortgage broker service to find the best mortgage rates available from Ireland’s main lenders. You can apply directly from our website, and a qualified mortgage advisor will be with you every step of the way.