Friday 23 February 2018

'The price went up €45k in a matter of hours' - First-time buyer trying to 'do the best thing' for his young family

Sean Duffy

Liam Harding knew something was out of kilter pretty soon into the house-hunting process.

He had arranged to see a three-bedroomed house in Dublin’s Drumcondra one Friday afternoon.

“We went along to see it and it was a really wet day. There was literally water pouring in the windows that had tape over them to stop it coming in. It was a Friday evening, and the estate agent told us we would have to have a bid in by Monday afternoon. That was kind of the start of it.”

Unfortunately for Liam, who lives in Stoneybatter with his nine-month old son LJ and wife Niamh, things haven’t improved much on the housing front since.

When they went to see another property in the Stoneybatter, alarm bells really started to ring.

“We went to see a house and the asking price was €375,000 and the auctioneer told us that the sellers were really happy with that asking price. It was a three-bed house and we really liked it. But a couple of hours later we got a call to say that the price had gone up from €375,000 to €420,000. People were viewing the house and literally putting in an offer twenty minutes later. That was obviously going to price us out of the market.”

A trained accountant, Liam came to identify some familiar trends in the property frenzy.

“People were telling me ‘if you get a loan from your parents and put down a bigger deposit, you’ll be able to get a bigger mortgage.’  I thought ‘Here we go again’. We’ve been through this before- this notion of getting on the property ladder no matter what. I was allocated the mortgage I can afford, so I’m not going to take on something unsustainable like plenty of people have done in the past. If I did that and anything went wrong, I’d only have myself to blame.”

Liam’s mother travels from Tipperary every week and stays with the family in their two bedroom house in Stoneybatter. Liam’s mother minds LJ from Monday to Friday, and though Liam is extremely glad of the help, he is conscious that things are a little cramped in their two-bed, for which he pays €1,400 per month.

Nonetheless he says he is happy enough to remain where he is at the moment rather than get involved in the type of hysteria which had seen so many of his generation come unstuck in the past.

“I want to live in the city. I would rather leave the country again rather than buy in the commuter belt. That’s a non-starter for me.”

He also questions the fundamentals of what is currently going on.

“If you look at it, wages in Ireland have risen slowly since the recession, but property prices have shot up uncontrollably. I think there needs to be more of a push to provide more private housing in the city centre. “

He says he hopes that efforts to alleviate the housing crisis by the Government will start bearing fruit soon.

“I really hope that the Government initiatives will start kicking in for middle earners who have effectively left behind. Ideally, we need to move to a three or four bedroom house. You are trying to do the right thing for your family, but for now we have no other option but to stay where we are”.

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