'A lot of people my age got sucked in by the hype'
Environmental consultant Andrea Carroll, who bought her house in Navan, Co Meath jointly with her boyfriend, is one of the thousands of young homeowners affected by negative equity.
"We bought at the peak of the market in late 2006, when I was 26," she said.
"Myself and my boyfriend paid €317,000 for our house. At the time rents were going up so quickly that it didn't make sense to rent. There was a massive cultural hype about owning your own house and a lot of people my age got sucked in."
Andrea was working in a local authority at the time and, on a whim, decided to see if she and her boyfriend would get a mortgage. He had just come home after living abroad and had not found a steady job at the time, but the couple received mortgage offers from "a good few banks".
Although Andrea is from Swords, she and her boyfriend bought a house in Navan because they could not afford to buy in Dublin. "At €317,000 we were priced out of even one-bedroom apartments in north Co Dublin," she recalls.
"Even though I like my house, my life isn't in Navan and I spend a lot of time in the car going to Dublin to visit my friends and family or for work."
"We bought this house thinking that if the worst comes to the worst, we can stay here for the next couple of years. But at the back of our minds we were really thinking that we should get our foot on the ladder and then we can move to Dublin in the next couple of years. That's not going to happen now," she said.
"I reckon our house is currently worth about €200,000. It is not the fact that house prices have gone down that has affected us so much as the banks' attitude to negative equity. You can't carry your negative equity to a new house, even if you can afford one. Most of my friends are in the same boat."