Derry house buyers looking to border villages again

Border villages such as Muff are said to be proving attractive to Derry house hunters.
Border villages such as Muff are said to be proving attractive to Derry house hunters.

Derry home hunters are once again looking to Donegal border villages for bargain buys, according to a local mortgage adviser.

Pascal Curran, from Advice First Financial Services in Letterkenny, says his firm has experienced a significant increase in mortgage enquiries from young couples seeking value for money homes across the border.

“Mortgage enquiries, generally, have increased significantly but there has been a particularly notable hike in enquiries from people north of the border,” the independent mortgage broker says.

“The number of mortgage enquiries to our office from people living or working in the North rose by almost 35% between January and June. The enquiries have come mostly from young couples in the Derry area who are aged between 27 and 42.

“The queries are mostly in relation to homes in the Inishowen border villages of Muff, Killea and Bridgend and surrounding areas.”

However, according to Pascal Curran, the rules of borrowing have been changed since the pre-market crash influx of foreign currency borrowers to Donegal.

“There is currently great value for money in Donegal property but it’s not as easy as it once was to secure foreign currency mortgage,” he says. “Getting the money needed depends on getting the right advice early on and building a sound financial CV.

“There were fears a couple of years ago that foreign currency mortgages were off the table for good and some people still wrongly believe that’s the case. They may be subject to added restrictions but southern mortgages for northern buyers certainly are available.

“Applications are assessed based on where the income is generated, so, even if potential borrowers are resident in the south, they face the same restrictions if they earn in the north.

“However, only some banks will accept applications for foreign currency mortgages. Those that do impose a 15% to 25% haircut on incomes to allow for currency strength fluctuation. The fact that affordability is assessed only on the discounted figure is something which comes as a shock to many home hunters.”