Mortgage Service & Fee Agreement Donegal

Our Mortgage Service…

Your personal mortgage advisor from Advice First Financial can add significant value to your financial situation. Our mortgage service encompasses much more than form-filling! Our extensive knowledge, market comparison technology, and established relationships with Letterkenny, Donegal & Ireland’s mortgage lenders mean you are in the best hands…

What we offer you…..

Initial Discover Meeting

  • To learn about you, your requirements, and your financial needs
  • To clearly explain the mortgage criteria applicable to you
  • To reassure you by a breakdown of any confusing jargon
Mortgage Service and Fee Agreement Donegal

Initial Research

Market analysis of the mortgage products available to identify a shortlist of potential mortgage providers based on your priorities. We look at……

  • Interest Rates
  • Borrowing Amount
  • Cash Back Offers
  • The Process
  • Discuss Any Challenges
  • Total Costs
  • Help to Buy Scheme

Application Support

  • Assisting you to complete your mortgage application
  • Preparing your application for approval
  • Identifying, discuss & help overcome potential reasons for decline

Application Management

  • Submitting your application to the lenders
  • Seek confirming from lender of receipt of your application
  • Dealing with any issues as they arise

Detailed Selection

  • Discuss mortgage approval/terms & conditions
  • Presentation of approval and up dated quotes for your selected Mortgage
  • Our recommendation in the form of a “Reason Why” letter

Application Proceeding

  • Help you get the property valuation completed
  • Follow up to ensure all paperwork is submitted to the lender for formal approval
  • Review of formal approval to ensure accuracy
  • Co-ordination of your third-party interactions (lender, solicitor, estate agent, broker)
  • Follow up to ensure all paperwork is submitted to the lender for cheque issue

Protecting Your Financial Health

  • Completion of a financial fitness profile
  • Identification of your financial needs
  • Recommendations and quotations of financial needs
  • Assisting you to complete your insurance applications
  • Co-ordination of underwriting requirements and documentation
  • Follow up to ensure policies are issued correctly and in a timely fashion

And that’s not all….

  • Unlimited phone and email access to your advisor and their support team
  • Post completion service call to ensure all your requirements have been satisfied

This service is divided into 3 parts (1: Initial meeting & research, 2: Application Assessment, 3: Approval in Principle). Our total fee for this comprehensive service is €945 (+vat) for standard residential mortgage applications. €95 payable on initial discovery meeting and initial research, €400 payable on application assessment with the balance €450 payable once an official Approval in Principle (AIP) has been secured from a lender. For more complicated lending requirements fees will be arranged beforehand.

The fees paid at the initial meeting, research, and application stages are non-refundable even if the mortgage application is not successful. We will not go to the application stage if we think we will not be successful. Once we have secured an approval in principle and you elect not to proceed for any reason, we reserve the right to charge our fee for our advice and services. In the event of a lender rejecting an application from us on your behalf due to information or an unacceptable credit history not disclosed to us, we reserve the right to charge our fee.

What some of our happy Mortgage customers have to say…


Pascal has been great at sorting us out with a mortgage. He’s knowledgeable and it’s better to have someone impartial on your side when you’re making a bit financial commitment. Couldn’t recommend enough.

Kieran McGee

Thankfully I was referred to Pascal at Advice First at a time when I was having difficulties securing my first time mortgage. Pascal and the team provided me with a wealth of information about mortgages, insurances etc. Such an invaluable service and I would highly recommend them to anyone out there looking for a mortgage. They took away all the worry about applying to banks and were always on hand to answer any questions I had about insurance, income protection and mortgages. Needless to say I also saved money by switching my income protection policy. I couldn’t recommend Pascal and his team highly enough.

Marnie Grier

Last year I had the good fortune of being referred to Pascal and his team at Advice First Financial Services in letterkenny when I was looking to applying for a mortgage. Pascal is a wealth of knowledge and I was impressed from the word go by his professionalism. Pascal was able to explain all the information to us in a clear and concise manner and he always checked to ensured that it was being fully understood. I found Advice First to be excellent communicators when engaging with their clients and all questions that we had (of which there were many) were answered promptly. I can honestly say that Pascal and his team were a dream to work with and I would highly recommend them to anyone looking for financial advice.

Cormac Mc Clafferty

I would highly recommend Pascal. He was a great help with getting our mortgage, insurance etc. sorted for our build. With the stress that can be involved in building or a purchase, this is definitely the best money you can spend.

Grainne Sheils

I would highly recommend Pascal. He was a great help with getting our mortgage, insurance etc. sorted for our build. With the stress that can be involved in building or a purchase, this is definitely the best money you can spend.

Matthew Havlin

We have been dealing with Pascal at Advice First since 2005. He has helped us so much through the years with our mortgage, Life Insurance, Income Protection and financial guidance. Pascal is so kind and explains everything so well. His attention to detail is second to none and always on hand if we need advice. I would highly recommend Advice First Financial Services. Caroline & Gary McLaughlin.

Caroline McLaughlin

Highly recommend advice first Pascal was so helpful and kind took all the stress and hassle out of the mortgage process! Would 100% recommend to anyone looking for advice!

Toni Donnell

Quite simply, I would have given up trying to get a mortgage without Pascal’s help. The banks put every obstacle they had in our way, but Pascal smoothed the path for us. We are now happily settled in our own home. Thanks Pascal!!!!! For everything

James Burgess

I had a 5 star experience with these guys. I went looking for help with a getting mortgage approved, and here I am, in my own home. I was also facing issues with getting mortgage protection, but that was no problem to Advice First! I would recommend anyone starting on their mortgage journey to give these guys a call…you won’t regret it!

Celine Furey

Pascal and the team at Advice First have literally changed my life – I was guided through the whole mortgage process from the very first initial meeting, with positive support and encouragement. Highly recommend Advice First for all financial needs!

Jane Donnellan

Frequently Asked Questions about Mortgage Service & Fee Agreement Donegal

Can I use a site as my deposit?

Yes, if you already own or are being gifted a site this can be used as your deposit.

Who offers self-build mortgages in Ireland?

These are the main lenders that offer self-build mortgages:

  • AIB
  • Bank of Ireland
  • EBS
  • Haven mortgages
  • Permanent TSB

Their lending criteria vary, and your personal circumstances will be taken into account.
Some lenders offer the option of an interest-only mortgage for the first 12 months, to help keep costs down in the first year.

Is applying for a self-build mortgage different than if buying?

The lending criteria for self-build mortgages can be stricter than others if you were buying a house.
This is due to costs and timeframes often being stretched and some projects sadly not being completed which makes self builds a higher risk to lenders.
Employment checks are usually more stringent, and you’ll need proof of either:

  • Your deposit contribution
  • Ownership of the site for your new house (which may be used as your deposit)

What additional documentation do I need for a self-build?

Before your mortgage can be approved, you’ll need to provide your lender with this additional documentation including:

  • Final grant of planning permission
  • Site map
  • Professional indemnity insurance and initial report from your Architect/Engineer/Surveyor

Building plans and costings

At are stages payments of the self-build mortgage process

There is usually flexibility over the number of ‘stage payments’ you can receive, to best suit your build. This is when a payment is made to cover part of the build.

For example, if you’ve already own or have been gifted the site, you’ll skip the first stage.

There are usually between 4-6 payment stages. They may include when you:

  • Buy the site
  • Prepare the site and foundations
  • Build to floor level
  • First fix
  • Second Fix
  • Completion, lender will hold back 10% of the loan amount for this stage.

Each stage of the build must be certified by your Architect before a payment is released. Payments are requested each time via your solicitor.

What insurance do I need?

It’s vital to protect the funding for your home as well as the actual property – both during construction and when it’s fully complete and furnished. Here are the insurances you need:

Self-Build or House Under Construction Insurance, will be a requirement of your loan offer.

This protects your home while it’s being built as well as the site and property, from damage caused by:

  • Fire
  • Storm
  • Flood
  • Break-in and theft

It can also include public and employers’ liability if you opt for direct labour rather than paying a contractor to manage the project.
You will have to put in place full House Insurance for your last stage payment.

Speack with your mortgage broker about this.

What exactly is a mortgage?

A mortgage is simply a long-term loan that’s used to pay for a house.

How do I start the application process?

There are a number of easy ways to begin your mortgage application:
Get in touch with a mortgage broker, who will do all the work for you, or get in touch with the lenders directly. Obviously, we would recommend the mortgage broker route as they will shop around all the lenders and provide you with the best options for you. I would suggest dealing with a fee-based broker though. If the broker is not charging a fee, then they will only deal with lenders who pay them a commission, which means you only get options from a select number of lenders rather than the entire market.

Here are some tips on getting mortgage ready

What’s a fixed rate mortgage?

With a fixed rate mortgage, your interest rate and monthly repayments are fixed for a set time as agreed between you and the lender. You can choose the best time frame for you.

Although a fixed rate means your repayments cannot increase for a set period of time, your repayments will not fall during the fixed rate period. As a result, you could miss out on lower interest rates and lower repayments. Fixed rates may cost more over the long run, but they offer peace of mind as you know your repayments will not rise during the fixed rate period.

We would recommend speaking with a mortgage broker though, you can discuss all rate options and they will help you decided whether a variable rate fixed rate is right for you. They will also be able to do market research for you on the best rates available for you.

What’s a variable rate mortgage?

Variable rates offer the most flexibility. They allow you to increase your repayments, use a lump sum to pay off all or part of your mortgage or re-mortgage without having to pay any fixed rate breakage fees.

However, because variable rates can rise and fall, your mortgage repayments can go up or down during the term of your loan.

How much will my repayments be every month?

Your repayments will depend on how much you borrow, the term or length of your mortgage as well as the interest rate that you’re charged. See this handy online Mortgage Calculator for an indication of how much your monthly repayments might be. We would recommend speaking with a mortgage broker though, you can discuss all rate options and they will help you decided whether a variable rate fixed rate is right for you. They will also be able to do market research for you on the best rates available for you.

What’s the minimum amount I can borrow?

The minimum loan amount you can borrow for a mortgage is approx. €40,000. The minimum loan amount for a top-up, which can also be called a further advance, is €25,000.

What’s the maximum amount I can borrow?

When giving you a mortgage, Letterkenny, Donegal & Ireland lenders use different criteria to decide how much they are willing to lend you and they must follow specific Central Bank of Ireland rules when doing this.

The Central Bank of Ireland’s rules apply limits to the amount that lenders in the Irish market can lend to mortgage applicants. These limits apply loan-to-income (LTI) ratios and the loan-to-value (LTV) ratios for both family homes and buy-to-let properties and are in addition to the lenders’ individual credit policies and conditions. For example, a lender may have a limit to the percentage of your take-home pay that can be used for mortgage repayments.

How long will my mortgage last for?

Every mortgage has a life span or term. The minimum term would be 5 years and you could also possibly qualify for the maximum term possible which is 35 years. For a family home, the maximum term of the mortgage is determined by your age. The maximum to have the loan repaid is age 68 with some lenders and age 70 with others. For Buy to Let mortgages have a maximum term of 25 years.

A shorter term means you’ll pay your mortgage off quicker, but it also means your monthly repayments will be higher. It is good advice to clear your debts, including your mortgage, as quickly as you can, it is also important to have a life and have to money to do all the other things in life that are important. So, striking the right balance is very important.

What documents do I need to make a mortgage application?

You will need certain documents when you apply for a mortgage, and you should keep a copy of anything you give to a lender or broker.

Proof of ID, proof of address, and proof of your Personal Public Service Number (PPSN)

Proof of income: latest P60, payslips, certified accounts if self-employed

Evidence of how you manage your money such as current and loan account statements for the last three to 12 months, depending on the lender

Here is Permanent TSB’s full list of documents required here.
Here is AIB’s full list of documents required.
You can see that the lists are very similar, which is the same with all other lenders.
These lists will not be complete for everybody as they do not take into account your individual circumstances.

What’s a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio?

LTV, or loan-to-value, is all about how much mortgage you have in relation to how much your property is worth. It’s normally a percentage figure that reflects the percentage of your property that is mortgaged, and the amount that is yours (the amount you own is usually called your equity).

For example, if you have a mortgage of €150,000 on a house that’s worth €200,000 you have a loan-to-value of 75% – therefore you have €50,000 as equity.
So, the lenders set LTV limits, which means you need to have a deposit of a certain amount before you can get a mortgage. There are different limits in place depending on what category of buyer you are.

  • First-time buyers need to have at least a 10% deposit
  • Second and subsequent buyers need to have at least a 20% deposit
  • Buy-to-let buyers need to have at least a 30% deposit

Lenders have a limited amount of discretion when it comes to these limits and in a calendar, year can make exceptions for the:

  • 5% of the value of mortgages for first-time buyers
  • 20% of the value of mortgages to second and subsequent buyers
  • 10% of the value of buy-to-let mortgages

These rules don’t apply to switcher mortgages and housing loans for restructuring mortgages that are in arrears and pre-arrears.

How much can you afford to borrow?

When making a mortgage application it can be tempting to apply for the maximum amount possible. However, you need to make sure you will be able to cope with future events such as an increase in interest rates, having children, redundancy, or illness.

You can use this budget planner to work out what you can afford to repay each month and make sure to include a regular amount for ‘unforeseen expenses’. You can use our mortgage calculator to see how much your monthly mortgage repayments would be.

If you have other loans or debt, your lender may offer you a lower amount, ask that you pay off these loans, or refuse your application.

The shorter the term of your mortgage, the higher your monthly repayments, but you will pay less interest in total. With a longer-term mortgage, your monthly repayments will be lower, but you will pay more in interest over the lifetime of the loan.


€200,000 20 years 3% €1,109 €66,206
€200,000 25 years 3% €948 €84,526
€200,000 30 years 3% €843 €103,554
The difference in cost of credit between 20- and 30-year terms €37,348

Even a small difference in interest rates can have a big impact on the overall cost of a mortgage.

€200,000 20 years 3% €1,109 €66,206
€200,000 20 years 2.5% €1,059 €54,353
The difference in cost of credit between interest rates €11,853

When you apply for your mortgage, and over its lifetime, it is important to get the lowest rate possible as it can lead to significant savings.

As well as mortgage repayments there are other costs to consider when it comes to buying a home

What are the other Mortgage fees and charges?

When buying a property, or switching your mortgage, it is not just your regular mortgage repayments you need to think about. There are a number of other costs involved that you should be aware of and ask your lender about. Some of these can be reduced or avoided by shopping around.

They include:

  • Brokers’ fees – some brokers charge a fee to arrange your mortgage or for mortgage advice. This might be a percentage of the mortgage amount or a flat fee. Not all brokers charge a fee so if you are planning to use a broker it is important to ask about this and to shop around. If a broker is not charging a fee, check with them what lenders they advise on. They may only work with lenders who pay them a commission and you may not get a full market comparison.
  • Estate agent fees – if you are selling a property and using an estate agent you will have to pay a fee for this service. It is usually between 1% and 2.5% but can also be a flat rate.
  • Solicitor’s fees – to look after the legal aspects of your mortgage a solicitor will charge a flat fee or a percentage of the mortgage amount, typically 1% to 2%. It is worth shopping around a few solicitors.
  • Valuation fee – this is paid to a professional valuer to estimate a property’s market value and is required by the lender as part of your mortgage application. A valuation is valid for a short period of time, typically four months. You will need to get an up-to-date valuation of your property if you want to switch mortgages. Valuation fees typically run between €150 and €185.
  • Structural survey fee – a structural survey is done to find out the condition of a property. If any issues arose during the valuation of the property or it is very old, your lender may insist on a structural survey. Even if your lender does not require it, you may want to get a survey anyway to be sure there are no problems with the building. The amount you will pay can be dependent on the type, age, and location of the property. It is not always a requirement for the lender, but it is always recommended to have a structural survey done for your own peace of mind.
  • Stamp duty – this is a tax payable on documents when you transfer ownership of a property. For residential property, it is charged at 1% of the property value up to €1 million and 2% for anything above that.
  • Local Property Tax – this tax, collected by Revenue, is charged on all residential properties and came into effect in 2013. It is a self-assessment tax, and you calculate what is due based on your own assessment of the market value of your property. It can be paid in a lump sum or spread out over the year.

You should take the above into account when you are working out how much you will be able to borrow.

What is the stamp duty payable on mortgages?

Stamp duty is payable at 1% on properties up to the value of €1 million euro and 2% on properties over this amount.

What are lenders' normal lending criteria for a mortgage?

Every lender will look at various criteria before deciding whether to approve a mortgage. Some of the main factors that are taken into account are:

  • A good credit history.
  • Being aged 18 or over.
  • Age not greater than 70 at the end of the mortgage term. With some lenders, this age is 68.
  • Ability to repay – as a guide mortgage repayment on all loans including your mortgage should not exceed 35% of your net income
  • Secure employment.
  • Continuous employment for at least 12 years.
  • Self-employment for at least 2 years, some lenders require 3 years.
  • Good bank account management

With all lenders, the primary focus is on your repayment capacity.

How much of a deposit do I need?

All lenders must follow Central bank deposit rules, which require a 10% deposit for first time buyers. So, if the value of your property is €200,000, you’d need a deposit of €20,000. This deposit can come by way of a gift, or part gifted, if you are lucky enough to have some-one willing and able to help you out. Borrowing for your deposit will not be acceptable to your mortgage lender, no matter where you are borrowing for.

What else should I bear in mind when taking out a mortgage?

You’ll generally need to arrange home insurance and mortgage protection before drawing down your loan.

Home insurance is property insurance that covers private homes, buildings, and contents. The cost of home insurance often depends on what it would cost to rebuild your house and how much it would cost to replace all of the contents of the house. The replacement value of your property may be more than the purchase price.

When taking out a mortgage you’ll also need to consider how it’ll be paid off in the unlikely event of your death before the mortgage has been fully repaid. When you get a mortgage to buy your home, you’ll generally be required by your lender to take out mortgage protection. This is a particular type of life assurance taken out for the term of the mortgage and is designed to pay it off on the death of the borrower or joint borrower before the end of the mortgage term.

What is the timeline for the mortgage process?

Wherever you are on your mortgage journey, whether you’re ready to make an application, or just want to ask some questions – we’re here to support you so book an appointment today with our mortgage team!

We’ll outline the mortgage process and the required documents you’ll need for your application and you can then gather and submit the documents required at a time that suits you, allow 1-2 weeks for gathering these documents.

Once the lender receives your application and supporting documentation, they will get back to you in 3 working days to let you know if it’s ready to go to our underwriting team for a full assessment, or if they need any further documents or information from you first.

Once they submit the documents to their underwriting team for a full assessment, they will let you know if they can approve your application within 10 working days. In the rare event that they can’t come to a decision in that timeframe, they will be in touch to let you know and to inform you of when they will have a decision.
If you are using a mortgage broker the lenders will communicate this update to them who will in turn communicate with you.

Once your application for credit is approved, (called approval in principle, AIP) and you have found your home, you will be required to arrange for a valuation of your property. A credit check will also be undertaken on all applicants for the mortgage, and you will need to arrange Life Insurance and Home Insurance. Your lender will issue the loan offer to your solicitor and once you sign the documents, your solicitor will arrange the transfer of funds and collection of your keys to your new home.

If you have questions or need Mortgage Service & Fee Agreement advice, call 074 9103938 or email

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