Wednesday 24 May 2017

'I'm exhausted and sick because it was two degrees' - Couples camp in cars for two nights to buy homes

Lisa O’Connor and Ronan O’Neill were among those who managed to buy a house. Photos: Tony Gavin
Lisa O’Connor and Ronan O’Neill were among those who managed to buy a house. Photos: Tony Gavin
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

Sleeping in your car parked next to a stranger for two days is not how most people are introduced to their new neighbours but it was all the rage 15 years ago when the boom was getting boomier.

Dozens of young couples were elated yesterday as they took their first steps on the property ladder by purchasing their first home.

Many had camped in their cars throughout last Friday night and braved the elements on one of the coldest nights this winter to make sure they were at the top of the queue yesterday morning to see the new three- and four-bedroom homes in St Marnock's Bay, Portmarnock, Co Dublin, which range in price from €450,000 to €665,000.

Accountant Alan Kenna was ahead of most though. He arrived last Thursday and took the Friday off work to keep a place in line.

"We arrived at 9pm and were sixth in the queue. The guy who was first in the queue arrived at 2pm last Thursday.

"I'm exhausted and sick because it was two degrees and there were hailstones. It was so cold. People were coming and bringing us sandwiches and cups of tea."

SLEEPOVER: Househunters queue in the bitter cold to view new homes at St Marnock’s Bay, Portmarnock, Co Dublin Photo: Tony Gavin
SLEEPOVER: Househunters queue in the bitter cold to view new homes at St Marnock’s Bay, Portmarnock, Co Dublin Photo: Tony Gavin

His partner, Emma Cornyn, joined him on after work last Friday afternoon. She said it was well worth the wait to secure their new three-bed home.

Now, they cannot wait to move in by November. "It is brilliant," said Emma.

"He did most of the hard work if not all of it. We have met our next-door neighbours now as well and everyone knows each other now from queueing so it is great."

As Lisa O'Connor skipped from a showhouse yesterday and hugged and kissed her partner, Ronan O'Neill, the freezing temperatures were far from her mind.

"We just bought a house," she said gleefully, explaining they had plenty of help from friends and family to secure their dream home.

"My sister queued up yesterday morning and then we took over at lunchtime. We were ninth in the queue at that stage, but it grew from then."

Ronan said buying their dream home would not have been possible without the income tax rebate they can claim under the Government's Help-to-Buy scheme.

"It's very handy because it would have been out of reach otherwise. Everybody was friendly in the queue so we all knew what we were all going for. It helped because we knew then we had a chance of getting the option we were going for."

When the Celtic Tiger grew alongside our ambitions to own property, queues of cars outside building sites became commonplace as house-hunters made sure they had the first pick of new homes.

Now, with the advent of smartphones and Netflix, waiting overnight to see your new home is easier. The car heaters were also turned up to the maximum to keep the freezing temperatures at bay.

Alan Gilligan and Laura McDermott bought their first home yesterday. "It is all a bit of a whirlwind really," said Laura.

"We have been looking for more than a year," added Alan "...mainly looking at the used market because there were very few new builds, so this is the end of a long process. We thought the days of queues outside housing estates were behind Ireland but unfortunately that's not the case."

Sunday Independent

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