News Analysis

Monday 1 September 2014

I signed my life away for the sake of city centre apartment

Alison O'Riordan, a gung-ho first-time buyer purchased her city pad while the market was still buoyant but now struggles to pay the bills and a sizeable mortgage

Alison O'Riordan

Published 21/03/2010 | 05:00

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TWO years ago I bought my apartment and swapped the leafy suburbs of my family home in Rathmines for life as a city slicker in the sought-after riverside location of Grand Canal Quay in Dublin 2.

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When I began my search of properties in early 2008 I knew exactly what I wanted. A two-bed apartment designed for modern living with a roof garden and outdoor space with great views of the happening city. When I saw just this in May of that year, it accelerated my impulse to buy immediately, even though the market was softening.

The two-bed showroom apartment on the fifth floor of a six-storey building cost me €525,000 at the time which included a parking space in my development for €45,000. I now see my apartment devalue massively on a daily basis.

Hooke and McDonald have said the typical price drop for apartments in city-centre locations is 40 per cent.

When I contacted my property consultant HT Meagher O'Reilly this week to find out how much my apartment has dropped, they said these types of units would be on sale for around €300,000 to €325,000 at the minute. I didn't even buy at the peak of the boom, but at a time when I thought things were at a more realistic level.

It was, however, weeks before the collapse in the middle of 2008, when prices tumbled. I ignored repeated warnings both from my parents and the Central Bank and instead ploughed in head first and handed over the money.

I have major regrets thinking about what I did, and what I could have done with all the surplus money that I will have to pay back for many years to come.

The cold wind of reality is never far from me and it constantly blows abruptly into my life. I have considered moving back home and renting out the apartment as the once affordable mortgage is not so affordable anymore with pay cuts and it has become a struggle to pay the bills and large mortgage.

But I worked hard to get here and put myself through tedious years of college so I could afford my own place, so I will persevere.

And also a big factor is that if I move out within two years of buying the apartment to rent it out my stamp duty exemption will be clawed back, so that is not an option.

And so I carry on being entangled in this web of struggle and hardship, trapped in negative equity with my dreams of city-apartment living turned sour.

The sleepless nights and bouts of anxiety will continue but hindsight is a very exact science and I can do nothing about that fateful day when I signed away my life and effectively put myself into my own financial prison.

Sunday Independent

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