Tuesday 20 February 2018

The Trader-Upper: 'After decade in negative equity, we can finally move'

From first-time buyers to downsizers, Gabrielle Monaghan talks to those planning a move in 2017

Sinead Conlon with her husband Ronan and children Orla (4), Eoin (6) and Ciara (1). Photo: Bryan Meade
Sinead Conlon with her husband Ronan and children Orla (4), Eoin (6) and Ciara (1). Photo: Bryan Meade

Sinéad Conlon, a 37-year-old secondary school teacher and blogger, and husband Ronan Conlon, a 36-year-old IT project manager, bought their four-bed semi-detached home in the Galway suburb of Knocknacarra in 2006 at the peak of the property boom.

The couple, who met in college and married in 2009, had only expected the property to be a starter home and that they would move to a larger home after their family expanded. But 11 years and three kids later, the Conlons are running out of space.

Sinéad, whose parenting blog Shinners and the Brood is named after her teenage nickname, says that while six-year-old Eoin, four-year-old Orla and one-year-old Ciara each have their own bedroom, the rooms will be too small once the children become teenagers themselves. "We're not looking anything huge but we would like to have a room downstairs that could be used as a playroom and then a den," she says.

Because of the dearth of new home schemes in Galway city, the Conlons plan on buying a "fixer-upper" no further than five miles outside the city so that Sinéad could have a short commute to Headford and Ronan can get to Dangan.

"We would ideally like to stay in the city, because Eoin has started school in the local gaelscoil and the kids have their clubs, activities and friends in the city," Sinéad says.

After a decade in negative equity, the Conlons' home is finally worth a little more than what they paid for it in 2006.

They have been saving for a new home for five years and Sinéad hopes they will have put together enough of a deposit for a new mortgage after she returns to work from a career break in September.

"We also hope that by waiting until then, we might make a small bit of money on our house when we sell," Sinéad says. "We would have liked some help from Minister Noonan in the budget for people in negative equity. It would be very hard for us to sacrifice the tracker because it made the mortgage so cheap. We don't know what the banks will let us do."

In the meantime, Sinéad plans to keep a keen eye on the Galway property market.

"Houses that come on the market here seem to sell very quickly, so when the time comes to move, we will have to be ready to move quickly. Yet we are conscious that we jumped in blindly with our current home so we are not making any rash decisions this time round."

Irish Independent

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