Sunday 21 January 2018

'I'm more interested in making a home than a good investment'

Leslie Ann Horgan
Leslie Ann Horgan

Leslie Ann Horgan

After six years of renting in Dublin, I want to buy a house. The decision was spurred in part by the fact that my portion of the rent for sharing a two-bed apartment had reached €800 a month. In my eyes, that money would be better spent on a mortgage payment.

When I told people about my decision, the reaction was mixed. Half encouraged me to buy now before property prices increase any further, while the rest were adamant I should wait until NAMA released properties onto the market as that would drive prices down.

I applied for a mortgage through my bank in late January. After a few days of panic, I found that my application was processed before the new Central Bank mortgage lending rules came into effect. I feel so lucky that that's the case. If I was limited to buying a property for under €220,000 - for my savings wouldn't have allowed for a 20pc deposit on amounts over that - I'd be headed back to the rental market.

The new rules are, in my opinion, intended to get first-time buyers to purchase apartments. I didn't do that during the Celtic Tiger years and have no interest in doing so now.

I grew up in a three-bed semi-detached house in Marino, in Dublin 3, and would always have hoped to buy something similar. Property in Marino is way beyond my budget sadly, so instead I focused on the neighbouring areas of Drumcondra, Donneycarney and Whitehall.

Initially, I found viewings to be a very disheartening experience. Modestly sized houses that need to be completely gutted are selling for up to €300,000. I can't afford to do major refurbishments but other people obviously can as those places sold fast.

Estate agents proved surprisingly uninterested in my business - many didn't return calls and emails, and one in particular was downright rude about the type of property a first-time buyer should be happy to accept. With elusive mortgage approval secured, no negative equity and being free from a property chain, I preferred to see myself as a strong purchasing candidate.

After two months of looking - a very short period, I know - I am now sale agreed on a two-bed house in Whitehall. It's at the upper end of my budget but has already been extended and refurbished. The estate agent is a rare pleasure to deal with.

There's still plenty of paperwork to do, but all going well I should be in my own house by the summer. People keep telling me I won't lose money on this house, but, if I'm honest, I'm much more interested in making a good home than a good investment.

Irish Independent

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