Saturday 24 February 2018

It's hard to believe we have ended up like this...

David and Jennifer, Cork

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Stock image

Graham Clifford

David and Jennifer (their full names are withheld) believed a move from Dublin back to their native Cork would help them on to the next phase of their lives.

They planned to have their own home - a family. The hopes and aspirations of every young couple.

That was May 2015. More than two years later, they are still renting, still looking for a home - and so many aspects of their lives are still on hold.

David has worked as an accountant for the last 13 years, Jennifer is a teacher and they have pre-mortgage approval for a loan of €450,000.

"We've done everything we were supposed to in our lives. Studied hard, got our qualifications, got good jobs, didn't overextend ourselves and saved a bit... but still we can't find a home in Cork for a reasonable amount. We don't want to take out a massive mortgage but still would spend up to €340,000 on a home, perhaps a little more for the right place - but the limited supply means it's impossible to find anything suitable," says David.

Ideally, the couple want to buy in the general area where Jennifer's family live but as time moves on, the radius in which the couple are looking has expanded.

And on a number of occasions when they thought they'd finally secured their first home together - other factors robbed them of their dream.

"Initially we agreed to buy a plot of land if planning could be secured, but the planners told us the area was already too densely populated. We accepted that decision, but then four weeks later found out planning had been granted for 28 houses, costing around €670k each, just 200 metres down the road. We wasted six months on that process, and with house prices in Cork increasing by 12pc annually, that was valuable time down the drain," says David.

"Then we had sale agreed on a house only to find out at the 11th hour that it was in probate and there was a dispute within the family selling. Our solicitor told us to leave it as the dispute could drag on for months or years," he adds.

And there was more heartbreak, as David explains: "Last May we found out, on the day we were to sign a contract on another house, that the sellers didn't have full title for the land on which the house was built. You couldn't make it up."

The couple are renting in the suburb of Douglas. David admits the entire saga is taking its toll.

"Jennifer often cries herself to sleep at night. We're renting a third-floor apartment and feel that until we have our own home, we can't really start a family. It feels so desperately unfair and we've grown so disillusioned with the entire process. Like we're surrounded by land, and property developers are sitting on big land banks in Cork while people are paying ridiculous money for modest houses, taking on huge mortgages they'll be paying back for the rest of their lives."

And David feels estate agents sometimes fuel the irrational housing frenzy in the southern city.

"So desperate have people become that at a viewing last Friday, another couple bid for the house while we were looking at it - they bid right in front of the rest of us. In Cork, at the moment, a worrying merry-go-round has grown. The same people at every viewing, the same disappointment, the same hopes dashed time after time.

"It's so hard to believe we've ended up in this situation, not only as a couple - but as a city and a country."

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