Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Guide to Dealing with Mortgage Repayment Difficulties

The Irish Bankers' Federation have published a guide containing some basic advice on what to do and what not to do if you experience difficulty meeting your mortgage repayments.

It can be downloaded from their website here.

There may possibly be comments about the irony of the IBF publishing such a guide when it could be argued that practices of some of their members may have contributed to some people's current difficulties, but we are where we are. It's a useful guide nonetheless.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

National Solidarity Bond - is it any good?

Details of the National Solidarity Bond were announced last week, the idea having first surfaced in the most recent Budget speech. The idea is that you invest an amount of money from €500 to €250,000 for a period of ten years, after which you get a State-guaranteed return of 50%, which is fixed from the outset.

In further detail, the return is 50% Gross over 10 years (AER 4.14%) consisting of 10% in 10 annual payments of 1% which are subject to DIRT at the prevailing rate (currently 25%) plus a 40% Tax free lump sum at the end of 10 years.

The net after tax return is 47.5% (AER 3.96%) assuming DIRT remains at 25%. Minimum investment is €500. Maximum individual investment is €250,000 (or €500,000 from 2 joint applicants or €750,000 from 3 joint applicants). If you do not have €500 to invest there is a facility to save through regular lodgements. You can access your money at any time by giving 7 days notice. There are no fees, charges or sales commissions.

The money will be used by the Irish Government. As the blurb says - "The Government of Ireland wants to make it easy for residents of Ireland to help to fund the Government’s capital investment programme, develop important infrastructure, stimulate economic recovery and create employment."

Looking at it purely as an investment option, I'd say it should only be considered by someone who is 100% sure they do not need access to their savings earlier than ten years as otherwise the rate of return will be just 0.75% per year after DIRT tax, which is paltry. If you are going to leave it for the 10 years, the return of 4.14% per year, before DIRT tax, isn't going to make you rich but it may be useful as a safe haven alternative to bank deposits for some long-term cash. This of course assumes you have confidence that a guarantee by the Irish State is a safe haven.

It is irritating that the 1% levy on other savings & investment products doesn't apply to this bond, which is an example of the Government using the tax laws to suit their own causes.

Further details available here.

(Note: This product is not available via brokers. The above article should be considered a personal opinion and not professional advice.)