Blowing Up the Housing Bubble

The housing ladder has remained a hot topic of conversation since the economic downturn and subsequent changing of the rules for applying for a mortgage. The conversation doesn’t seem to be going anywhere as the concern of Ireland falling into the housing bubble trap increases as more and more prospective buyers find themselves unable to pay increasing asking prices.

This week it was reported that these increasing house prices do not look likely to slow down in the coming years. Goodbody Stockbrokers have stated in their latest economic report that the average price of a house is set to continue to rise by up to 10% this year followed by another 8% in 2018 meaning an additional 18% cost increase on houses which have already increased massively in price in the previous three years.

The report states that:

“Mortgage approvals, even excluding cash purchases, are in excess of the amount of new supply expected to come to the market, thus house price inflation is expected to remain strong over the forecast period. […]“While supply remains low, demand appears to be running ahead of expectations”.

Existing housing demand is said to be 30,000 per year, and it is reported that it will take another number of years in order for the number or houses built to match up to tahis demand. This lack of balance between supply and demand is what has encouraged this somewhat bleak forecast from Goodbody Stockbrokers, who have also stated that they expect there will be €13.5billion in new mortgage lending in the coming years.

An additional issue with supply and demand is that there are far more prospective homeowners being approved for mortgages than there are houses available, which continues to push prices higher. A recent infographic shows the increasing prices as they continue to grow. Mortgage approvals are being boosted by the Government’s popular help-to-buy scheme but many of those approved will find themselves without a home to buy.

Should you have any queries on home ownership, or any other financial or business matters, please don’t hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA, where we will as always be happy to help.

– – – – –

DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Granting your Switch Wish

It is obvious that the changing mortgage rules have made it more difficult for first time buyers to enter the property market in recent years. Despite recent changes allowing for a decrease in the necessary deposit required (abolishing the 225,000 cap on a 10% deposit) the continuing rise in house prices has all but ruled many first time buyers out of the market for the foreseeable future. An issue which affects many but has seen much less column inches is the issue of switching your mortgage to another bank. This is something which has been increasingly difficult to accomplish in recent years with the ever changing financial market, but there may be a distant light at the end of the tunnel for those wishing to switch their mortgage in the future to reduce their repayments.

The Central Bank has recently stated that it will be considering imposing new rules which will make it easier for people to switch their mortgage to another lender. This exciting development follows recent research by Behaviour and Attitudes which found that only 4% of mortgage holders had switched to a new lender. Switching your mortgage to another lender can often result in a reduction in your repayments and other benefits as your needs grow and change in your home.

The proposal by the Central Bank would ensure that banks must offer greater clarity to their borrowers to ensure that they have all the information available regarding switching, something which is sorely lacking in the current market. There is also a suggestion that the banks will be required to ensure that borrowers have all the information regarding switching mortgage product and the associated costs of this.

The fact that so many of those surveyed had never even considered changing their mortgage is surprising given that Ireland’s variable mortgage rates have been found to be among the highest in the Eurozone. Lenders do not currently offer enough accessible information about these issues and as such it is not something at the forefront of buyer minds. Acting Deputy Governor Bernard Sheridan has been quoted as saying:

“It is clear that lenders could be doing more to facilitate consumers who are thinking about switching.”

The Central Bank suggests these new changes will be beneficial as over 109,000 people could save money by switching mortgages and will reportedly publish a paper later in the year in which these proposals will be set out.

Should you require any help, guidance or advice on these or any other business and financial matters please don’t hesitate to contact us here at Ecovis DCA where our dedicated advisors will be delighted to be of assistance.

– – – – –

DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

The Wheels on the Company Car Go…

In our ever shifting modern landscape it can be hard to stay consistently abreast of small changes to rules and regulations and amendments to costs we don’t often consider (is anyone else lamenting the increasing cost of stamps and feeling like their grandmother when admitting it? No? Just us?) Occasionally, changes to important parts of our everyday lives can be implemented almost without our knowledge as they may not be widely publicised or may simply fall beneath the din of the other news of the day. Here at EcovisDCA we want to ensure that you are always aware of changes which may affect your pocket whether positively or negatively, and today we want to inform you about a change to motor travel rates for Civil Servants which may have escaped your notice as these changes have not been massively advertised.

The motor travel rates for Civil Servants apply where employees use their private vehicles for business purposes. In these cases the costs can be reimbursed through the flat-rate mileage allowances which have been amended per a general review as of April 1st 2017.

  • Key changes to previous arrangements include:
  • Distance bands increased from 2 to 4, which may benefit workers who do a great deal of driving for business.
  • Lower recoupment rate for the first 1,500km.
  • Increased recoupment rate from 1,500 to 5,000km which again may benefit those who do a lot of business driving.
  • More beneficial compensation rates for cars with lower engine sizes and emissions, benefitting those workers already conscious of their carbon footprint and encouraging others to be more aware.
  • Changes to the mileage formula apply and rates will be locked in for a period of 3 years.

Should you require further information or guidance on how this may affect you and your business or any other business or financial issues, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

– – – – –

DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

If you Own It Then You Need to Put Your Name On It (All The Beneficial Owners)

As of the 15th of November 2016, all Irish business owners or part-owners are required to create and maintain a list of the beneficial owners of the aforementioned business. This new order is in accordance with Statutory Instrument 560 of 2016. The new rule applies to all Irish companies, partnerships and all business entities whether publically listed or not.

A beneficial owner is defined as being a person who currently holds more than 25% of a business either directly or indirectly. This is a legal term wherein specific property rights belong to a person even when legal title of the property belongs to another person. Therefore even if you are not publically an owner of the business, if you hold more than 25% you will be required to be listed on this new document, the register of beneficial owners for the company.

 

The register of beneficial owners for the company must include for all parties:

  • Full Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Nationality
  • Residential Address
  • Nature and extent of interest and involvement with the company
  • Date entered into or removed from the register.

 

This new requirement will naturally take some time to implement accordingly, and we would advise all companies to ensure that this register is kept fully up to date with leaving and entering dates etc. to ensure that no issues arise in the future as a result of incomplete information.

 

It is also advised that the company issue letters to all those viewed as beneficial owners to inform them of this new register and to request the required information. It is essential to have a record of all endeavours to identify all beneficial owners and should they still be impossible to identify, the names of the directors and CEO must be entered on the Register.

The CRO will create a central register by the middle of 2017 so it is essential that all beneficial owners are reported to them before this time.

It is heavily advised that this be put in place as soon as possible as failure to comply can result in a fine of up to €5,000 being applicable to your business.

 

Should you have any concerns, queries or require further information on these or any other business and financial matters please don’t hesitate to contact us we are always available to help.

 

– – – – –

DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

TaxSaver TaxSaver, They Know how to Save you

There is no denying that we live in quite expensive times with the general cost of living continuing to increase steadily. As a result, both business owners and employees alike are as always looking to where costs can be cut or savings can be made. Travel and food are often the biggest savings downfalls for employees. When hoping to cut costs these are often the first avenues to be explored, which is often exploited by advertisers insisting on informing of us of the many varied other things we could do with the cost of our morning cappuccino.

For those of us who simply cannot function in the morning without that well needed caffeine fix and the knowing glance from our local barista, the good news is that there are many available ways to save without sacrificing the sacred morning routine. For both business owners and employees alike, the travel Taxsaver could be a fantastic solution which can save the company money whilst also ensuring a happy workforce by saving the employees money on their daily commute.

This scheme has proven its worth as over 3500 companies currently purchasing travel tickets for their employees. The system allows companies to save up to 10.75% in PRSI whilst employees can save between 31 and 52% in tax on the cost of their travel.

The taxsaver travel ticket is purchased through the company and can be paid for by the employee through salary sacrifice, in place of a bonus or as an additional perk as part to their salary. Companies can register to take part in this service via www.taxsaver.ie and can now order employee tickets via an online service to be delivered directly to the company saving time as well as money, which none of us will ever complain about these days.

Employees hoping to save up to 52% on their commute can contact taxsaver on 1850211777 to see if their company is registered or direct their employer to the website in order to register. Once organised the company will purchase the ticket on your behalf (payment method to be agreed upon) and this will be delivered direct to your workplace so you can start saving for those cappuccinos or rainy days.

Additionally, there is a choice of travel options available as you can choose bus, rail or a combination of the two depending on your most used mode of transport.

With such large savings at the fingertips of both employers and employees, it is no surprise that this has already proven to be a popular choice, and is sure to grow.

Should you have any concerns, queries or require further information on these or any other business and financial matters please don’t hesitate to contact us we are always available to help.

 

– – – – –

DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Taking the Fear out of Arrears

Following on from the economic crisis and the subsequent increase in the cost of living and decrease in available work, many thousands of Irish people have been left in mortgage arrears which is a very stressful and uncertain position to be in. As the country begins to regain its financial footing there are of course increases in finance options, but up until this point many Irish householders may have found it quite difficult to avail of advice on these matters during what is of course a difficult financial time.

Recently, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald and Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar announced an awareness campaign to promote Abhaile, a free mortgage arrears support service which many of those struggling were unaware of.

This news follows a survey which found that many struggling with mortgage arrears are too embarrassed to tell their family and friends about their ongoing issues. This in itself is incredibly problematic as the weight of these issues alone can cause isolation, depression and other mental health difficulties. As such, it is essential that all homeowners who find themselves in arrears should have someone to speak to. That is the service that Abhaile hope to provide. Tánaiste Fitzgerald has stated that despite falling numbers, there are still approximately 34,500 people in this country in long-term arrears. These are the people they hope to reach with this new campaign as it also emerged that over two thirds of people did not know that there were any services available to them to discuss these issues. Minister Varadkar was quoted as saying:

“It’s our firm hope we’ll bring forward thousands more people who are now in need of similar help. The key message is to come forward and seek the help that you need. Don’t be afraid, help is available at no cost and we’re on your side.”

Whilst the fact that the number of repossession cases has halved in recent years is indeed positive news, it is also essential that those still struggling be aware of all of the assistance at their disposal to ensure that these rates continue to fall in the coming years so that we can see a significant reduction in people feeling alone in these issues. It was also revealed that those in long-term arrears are those least likely to seek advice or assistance as they may feel that their situation is hopeless.

Angela Black of the Citizens Information Board has said:

“What we’re doing is asking members of the public to go out there and take a look around at their family and friends and people who might look ok on the surface but who are struggling behind closed doors with mortgage arrears. They might not realise they have access to this free expert financial and legal advice. Family and friends can play a vital role in encouraging people to look for help”

The Abhaile service has assisted 4,500 people since it became fully operational last October.

The Abhaile scheme is administered by the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS).

Its helpline, which is open Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm is 0761072000.

 

– – – – –

DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Offshore Disclosure Notification

It can often be difficult to remain abreast of changes to procedures in the financial sector if your business is not operating within this sector. Unfortunately it is essential to be aware of any changes which may affect your business operations.

The Finance Bill 2016 introduced a number of changes relating to Qualifying Disclosures made to the Revenue Commissioners regarding existing offshore assets as well as offshore income and gains. In recent days the Revenue Commissioners have been issuing correspondence regarding these changes in order to keep businesses informed ahead of the changes being put into place, so it is important to read all information carefully to ensure you understand these changes.

These new changes will be in effect from May 1st 2017 and will relate to disclosure which includes any of the below outside of the Republic of Ireland.

  • Income or gains arising or accruing outside of the Republic of Ireland.
  • Relevant accounts – applies to both bank accounts and share accounts.
  • Relevant property.

These changes mean that any disclosures made to the Revenue Commissioners from May 1st 2017 onwards relating to offshore assets, income or gains will not be afforded any mitigation of penalties, meaning that the penalty will be 100% of the underpaid tax. Disclosures made before this date will benefit from the usual mitigation of penalties imposed by Revenue. This can often significantly reduce the amount payable. As such, waiting until after this date can result in a significantly higher payment being due and we would advise against waiting in order to reduce this risk.

Should you have any concerns, queries or require further information on these or any other business and financial matters please don’t hesitate to contact us we are always available to help.

 

– – – – –

DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Voluntary Strike off VS Liquidation

Unfortunately, it is not always prudent or financially viable to keep your business going. To assist you if this is the case, we will today be discussing two ways in which your company can be formally closed down. We will be focusing on Voluntary Company Strike Off and Members Voluntary Liquidation – two very different processes which should not be confused. Rather than incurring the on-going costs of continuing to file annual returns, you can choose to either liquidate or strike the company off. It is inadvisable to simply abandon your company as this can incur ongoing costs as well as causing legal trouble down the line.

Voluntary Company Strike off is the process wherein a company is formally de-registered from the Register of Companies and the Revenue Commissioner. The liquidation process involves the appointment of a liquidator to collect and assign any existing assets.

Voluntary Strike Off is often seen as a quicker and more cost effective option than liquidation. This option is available to companies which have had little or no activity and have no more than €150 in assets or liabilities. Voluntary Strike Off leaves an option to restore the business open for a period of 20 years following the date of dissolution.

Members Voluntary Liquidation is the alternative option for companies which have had activity and remain solvent at the time of cessation. Members Voluntary Liquidation is often seen as the more correct way to dispose of a company as it is not possible to resurrect the company after liquidation.

Voluntary Strike Off is also a cheaper option than Members Voluntary Liquidation despite its inherent lack of finality,

If you require any further information on either Voluntary Strike Off or Members Voluntary Liquidation or indeed any business or financial matters please don’t hesitate to contact us. We are always happy to help.

 

– – – – –

DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Kick Bills before Buckets

With Irish people now beginning to get a foothold on the property ladder later in life, we are also beginning to start families slightly later and as such, thoughts often turn to what provisions can be made for your family in the unfortunate event of your death. Whether sudden or prolonged the death of a loved one has devastating emotional consequences so it is advisable to think ahead and do all that you can to avoid there also being devastating financial consequences. It’s a fairly morbid thought to begin the year with but we are big believers in thinking ahead and there are dangers to be found in ignoring the inevitable.

 

It is advisable to think ahead and to have your affairs in order in so far as possible at all times and at the very least to know what would happen to your existing finances or your current payments in the event of your passing. We might all have hated those conversations our parents would begin about the event of their death, but they are wise to open these discourses to avoid burying our heads in the sand. Having your affairs in order could prevent causing additional pain to your loved ones at an already emotionally painful time.

 

Something which is often overlooked are bank accounts. Whilst many of your debts will pass away with you, bank accounts are not among these. Your bank account will continue to issue payments etc. as usual until informed of the death, so it is advisable to ensure that someone is aware of all of your accounts as they may then be liable to take over a debt they were unaware of, or the account could be left running into difficulty. By contrast, the advantage of a joint account means that all funds can pass directly to the named survivor on the account.

 

Credit Union accounts are another issue which surviving loved ones are often unaware of as your loved ones might be able to avail of a pay out from your credit union savings following your death due to a little known life insurance scheme which accompanies your credit union account as well as being able to avail of any savings you have made. Credit Union loans differ from most as they will typically be cleared upon the death of the account holder.

 

The most crucial manner in which people fail to keep their loved ones up to date on their financial matters is their debts and loans. Many debts or unpaid loans will simply pass to your estate and interest will continue to accumulate on these until paid in full, causing a further headache for your family in what is already a difficult time, debts can even be recovered from existing accounts leaving loved ones without access to these previously available funds, whilst your estate can be liable for any remaining balance.

Mortgages can be problematic, some banks allow a moratorium following a borrower’s death although interest may continue to accumulate so it is wise to check your options in advance so all parties are aware of the situation, and to ensure your mortgage protection is full and up to date.

Having a current up-to-date list of your accounts and investments and ensuring that someone has the information or access to this information to avoid further heartache at a difficult time. Though these issues may feel morbid to bring up, they are vital to ensure that your loved ones can live on as comfortably as possible.

Should you require any assistance or guidance on these or any other financial or business matters please do not hesitate to get in touch or arrange a meeting with us.

 

– – – – –

DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Neither a borrower nor a lender be

January is often a time of financial uncertainty for many people as the spending sprees of December leave somewhat of a hole in the pockets and we begin to add to our savings once more. The January sales offers a slight boost to the retail sector during this slump, while for the rest of us they tend to have the opposite pocket-emptying effect. Business lending, however seems to be in full swing in 2017 already. As we discussed towards the end of last year, there was to be somewhat of a new focus on lending in the SME (Small and Medium Enterprise) sector, a sector that found itself sorely left behind and without many financing options available to them whether starting up their business or expanding into bigger and better things.

As predicted, lending to the SME sector has been steadily increasing in recent months, rising by over 5% when comparing the 2016 summer months to the same period in 2015. When comparing the summer months of 2015 with those of 2016, lending to SMEs in the manufacturing sector had increased by approx. 37% and the hotel and restaurant sector by approx. 25%. It has also been found that the rate of loan defaults in particular in the SME sector has dropped from 41% in 2013 to 24% in 2016.

As always it is wise to take these positive findings with a pinch of salt for anyone in the SME sector as there currently tends to always be a down side. In the case of the new availability of lending and the increase in same within the SME sector, the double edged sword of lending has also come with a higher cost of credit than most European countries, possibly due in part to the previous lack of availability. Similarly, with the new availability of lending options, rejection rates are also on the increase with the latest Central Bank loan data showing an increase in the rejection rate from 11% to 16%. Interest rates are also showing to be higher on smaller loans so it is advisable to take into account all of your available financing options before making a commitment to one to ensure that you are getting the best deal for your business and also signing up for a financing option which is sustainable for you.

Rachel McGovern of PIBA financial brokers has been quoted as stating that these findings point to an existing lack of competition in Ireland stating that

“More needs to be done to support Irish SME growth, and the state needs an urgent analysis of what is keeping competitive forces out of the Irish lending market.”

As always, we are big supporters of the SME sector and welcome any changes which will assist this sector to grow and flourish. Should you require any help, guidance or advice for your own newfound or burgeoning SME, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we will be delighted to be of assistance.

 

– – – – –

DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY