Saturday 25 January 2020

Camping out to buy a house was worth it- but it shouldn't be this way

Wife and I spent three nights swapping places in the car as we juggled kids and jobs

John Mulligan
John Mulligan
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

The last time I had camped out to buy anything, it was to nab a stereo at a St Stephen’s Day sale in 1984.

Armed then with turkey sandwiches and flasks of tea, it was all a bit of a family adventure.

And it only lasted about three hours.

But when my wife and I started queuing for a house in north Dublin last year, we would spend three nights swapping places in the car as we juggled kids and jobs.

It could have been worse. The houses weren’t due to formally go on sale for almost a week, but the camp-out was cut short when estate agents took pity and handed out tickets to the hardy dozen that had put lives on hold to buy a home in a dysfunctional market.

Was it worth it? Of course it was.

For anyone set on buying a new home, especially if they’ve got their sights set on something specific, a few days of inconvenience is a small price to pay for securing a property.

Netflix helped to pass the time, and a sleeping bag kept the cold at bay – most of the time, anyway. The curious looks from passers-by are quickly consigned to part of a tale to tell.

But it shouldn’t be this way of course.

It’s an outrage that a problem that was seen coming down the tracks even in the depths of the recession has still not been tackled properly.

Two generations – those who couldn’t or didn’t buy before the recession and those who got fleeced then and stuck later – are among those jostling to buy in a market where the lack of supply is crippling.

And now another generation of buyers is getting lumbered with more debt than they probably should be, notwithstanding Central Bank borrowing limits, to get themselves on the property ladder.

For developers and estate agents, it has turned into another turkey shoot.

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