Friday 20 October 2017

Price madness: A couple of hours later we got a call to say it had gone up by €45k

Liam Harding with his wife Niamh and their 10-month-old son LJ at their home in Stoneybatter, Dublin Photo: Caroline Quinn
Liam Harding with his wife Niamh and their 10-month-old son LJ at their home in Stoneybatter, Dublin Photo: Caroline Quinn
Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

First-time buyer Liam Harding believes we could be on the cusp of yet another property bubble, after viewing a house which soared in price by €45,000 within a matter of hours.

On a wet and dreary Saturday morning, he and his wife, Niamh, went to view a three-bed dwelling in the Dublin suburb of Drumcondra, with an asking price of €350,000.

"The guy showed us around and there was literally water pouring down the conservatory.

"It was in a bad way and he had it blocked up with tissue.

"There were pots and pans collecting the water; that's how bad it was.

"It was bizarre; it was like something out of Fawlty Towers.

"But we were very keen to get a house in that area.

"We asked him a few questions and he told us there were a few good offers on it. He needed our answer by 12 o'clock on Monday. I was a bit taken aback, and it was madness, now that I think about it.

"My dad, who went to view the house with us, couldn't believe the owner was showing us around a house in this condition."

However, the couple, having decided to continue their search in the same area, quickly realised that a lot of the houses on offer would require sizeable investment to get them to a liveable condition.

"One of the houses we looked at hadn't been lived in for a year and it needed a lot of work."

But it was when they went to view a place in Stoneybatter, with an asking price of €375,000, things were equally dispiriting.

"Niamh liked it because she wanted a bigger house that you can do some work with it, whereas I wanted somewhere we could move into. I went up to have a look and I really liked it.

"At the time, Niamh asked the estate agent if the attic could be converted, and if they could give us the measurements.

"She then emailed him but got no reply."

Liam, a trained accountant, also pointed out how easy it is to get "caught up" in the competition of bidding for a particular property.

"I was willing to go to €395,000.

"I thought it was a little over-valued, but still thought it was worth it.

"A couple of hours later we got a call to say that the price had gone up from €375,000 to €420,000.

"People were viewing the house and literally putting in an offer 20 minutes later.

"That was obviously going to price us out of the market. I lived in China for a few years, I had saved money, and I thought I was in a good position."

He says the reality is that to buy in their desired location of Drumcondra or Stoneybatter they have to put in a bid "within a few days" of seeing a particular property.

"And you have to bid big amounts. They want your answer within two or three days. I was at the mercy of the other guy coming in beside me.

"I was willing to make a sensible decision on what I had and the value of the property. But the other people viewing the property just wanted to get it. People were telling me if you get a loan from your parents and put down a bigger deposit, you'll be able to get a bigger mortgage. I thought here we go again.

"We've been through this before - this notion of getting on the property ladder no matter what. I was allocated the mortgage I can afford, so I'm not going to take on something unsustainable like plenty of people have done in the past. If I did that and anything went wrong, I'd only have myself to blame."

He said the couple's current search for a home has "stalled" and renting is now their "only option".

"We're lucky our landlord is a very reasonable guy."

While Liam says he is aware there are people in a much worse position compared to his situation - he also believes he and his wife should be able to buy a house in their area of choice.

"We saved as hard as we could for as long as we could. I don't understand why the option isn't available for us to even have a chance to live in the city."

Sunday Independent

Also in Business