Wednesday 28 June 2017

Home is where your heart is

Ian and Sinead Hickey, from Dublin, speak to Clodagh Dooley about the search for their new home

Ian and Sinead Hickey pick up their keys. Photo: Angela Halpin
Ian and Sinead Hickey pick up their keys. Photo: Angela Halpin

In a way, we have probably had the vision of our perfect home stuck in our minds all our lives. Perhaps, from your childhood years, you remember choosing houses for your toys to live in, or seeing a beautiful house on TV or from the car window, and you told yourself that you're going to own a similar house when you're older. But while you may have come to the realisation that you're not going to be living in Cinderella's castle anytime soon, that doesn't mean you can't have your own fairytale ending when it comes to finding a home that is both functional and attractive to live in. It's just about finding the right time first, something Ian and Sinead Hickey know all too well.

Ian and Sinead, who married in November 2013, had both been living and renting together in Dublin for about four years, before they finally decided to take the next step and buy their first home together.

"From when we got married in 2013 onwards, we had started saving and keeping an eye on the property market," says Ian. "So, in September 2016, when we felt we had enough saved and were ready to move on from renting, we started looking properly and going to viewings - we went to about 5-6 viewings most Saturdays!"

"For us, location was one of the most important considerations in our search," says Sinead. "Ian is originally from Clontarf and wanted to stay within the bay and as we are both working in Dublin 1, getting to our jobs would need to be convenient. I'm originally from the south side of Dublin and wasn't too familiar with the north side. Ian would bring me around areas in the north side within our budget, so that I would know the area, and we would quickly know what we liked and what areas we wanted to look in.

Home sweet home.
Home sweet home.

"Baldoyle came in as one of our top choices, and when we came across a two-storey terraced three-bed house here, we fell in love. We thought it was perfect for us - location-, price- and space-wise. We only recently moved in - we got the keys back in January, on Friday 13th. So, despite superstition, it was actually a lucky day for us!"

Natural bond

Speaking of luck, I ask Ian and Sinead if they felt luck was also on their side throughout the mortgage application process. Naturally, searching for your first home and applying for your first mortgage can all sound quite daunting - did they feel this was the case?

"You hear all these stories about fear and nervousness in relation to the mortgage, but I felt at ease from the get-go," says Ian. "I've been a customer of KBC since 2014 and I had always found them very helpful with any questions I had about my current account. So, when the time came to take out our mortgage, I knew I wanted to continue this relationship with KBC.

"With the initial application you have to fill out online, KBC responded straight away to tell me what the next steps were and what paperwork we would need with our application. They made the whole process run smoothly and were extremely supportive. It didn't matter how stupid you thought a question was, they made you feel comfortable to ask it and would respond as soon as possible, even if we contacted them late in the evening.

"And if you feel nervous or unsure about the process at any stage, KBC will break everything down for you into simple terms so that it's not all jargon - they make everything much easier to understand."

Sinead adds: "They made it very easy in relation to paperwork, which can be daunting for some people! They give you a checklist with everything you're going to need, from payslips to proof of address. Scan over that and have everything easily accessible to you. My tip would be to keep everything in one file - we kept it all in Google Drive, which was accessible for both of us from anywhere."

Future plans

Having had their new home for about a month, what's next on the horizon for Ian and Sinead?

"We really just want to get settled in properly first," says Sinead. "We've only been here a short while and we've been decorating quite a lot, so our goal is to put our little stamp on it now and make the house more our home. For now, it's a blank canvas for us.

"We would eventually love to put an extension out the back and have a bigger kitchen or dining area perhaps, so we've started saving again. There's loads of things that we could do but at the moment there's no rush, we're just looking forward to settling in and enjoying our new space."

Ian adds that timing is everything when building a comfortable home life.

"During the bidding process, you really need to think hard about it and make sure it is actually what you want before you go down the road of overbidding yourself, or getting into massive bidding wars. It's so important to take your time. We were very fortunate that it happened quite quickly, but you really should narrow your choices down and do your research on the area.

"Although we bought the house in Baldoyle, we drove out a couple of evenings at weekends to see what the surrounding area had to offer, and to get a better feel for the amenities. Make sure it's the right place for you and take your time not to rush into anything."

  • KBC customer has received a gratuity for this advertisement

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