It doesn’t matter who you are, trying to buy a house is tough, writes Catherine Fegan
Kat Cameron turns 37 next month. As a single, college-educated woman with a relatively well-paid job in the tech sector, her goal of owning her own home seemed a reasonable one.
“In April 2020 I had had enough with house sharing,” she said. “All I have ever wanted is to own my own home. I had a few nightmare situations with housemates and it just got to the stage where I thought my only option was to move back in with my parents. It’s been a year now and I don’t know when I will be in a position to move out.”
In January, Kat got approval in principle for a mortgage, which expires in July. She wanted to buy close to her parents in Maynooth, but her experience to date has meant she has revised her plans.
“My budget is very small, €190,000, maybe €200,000 at a push,” she said.
“My ideal would be to live in Maynooth or between Maynooth and the city centre, but being realistic there is no chance I will be able to afford that so I have stretched it out even as far as Edenderry but even those properties are out of my reach. I haven’t been able to get anywhere. With the few properties that are in my budget I just get outbid straight away.”
One of Kat’s main frustrations is the lack of grants available for single first-time buyers.
“It’s hard enough to find an affordable house for a double applicant but as a single applicant it’s impossible.
“I’m at a real disadvantage. The Government needs to do something to help single mortgage applicants.
“Personally, I am a lot happier single than I have been in any relationship and I feel penalised for that.
“I feel lucky that I’m able to move back in with my parents and I have a roof over my head but it’s sad that someone who is about to turn 37 in a few weeks is considered lucky because they can live with their parents.
“I am absolutely disheartened and feeling quite hopeless about getting somewhere any time soon.”
Kafil Uddin Ahmad (37) and his wife Samiha (26), both working in banking, are considering leaving Ireland because they have been priced out of the housing market.
The Bangladeshi couple have been pre-loan approved to buy since November and had been looking for a home to start a family. They have paid almost €43,000 in rent over the last two years.
“I have a job as a data analyst for Citibank and I came here for work in 2017 because there were a lot of tech job opportunities,” said Kafil.
“I have dual citizenship of Finland and Bangladesh but my wife had some visa issues so she couldn’t join me until two years later. The plan was to stay here in Ireland and start a family. Last March we wanted to save money to buy a house so we took a room in an apartment. Before that we were renting a two-room apartment that was €1,850 a month and it was very expensive.”
The couple’s one-room accommodation in the Rialto area of Dublin costs €950 a month.
“Our budget is around €250,000 so we had saved 10pc of that. There was very little available and if there was, when I got in touch with the agent they are getting back saying someone has bid €5,000 more than the offer I might want to make.
“For us it has been frustrating because the first-time buyer grants don’t apply to second hand homes and we feel that’s unfair. I can’t get the help to buy scheme yet we both pay a huge amount of tax every month.”
Having lived in Luxembourg before coming to Ireland, the couple are now considering moving back.
“The option is to wait a few more months and if it doesn’t change another option is to move out of Ireland.
“It’s not what we want but we feel totally demoralised by the whole experience.”
After 12 years of apartment-living in Waterford city, the pandemic made Dubliner Kolyn Ryan Byrne (37) and his husband Dennis (29) re-evaluate their lives.
“Being so far away from family became a real issue during lockdown,” said Kolyn.
“We have decided because of the pandemic and everything that is going on we would like to be closer to family and move back to Dublin.”
Conscious of the price of houses in the capital, the couple set their sights on the commuter village of Dunboyne, Co Meath, and a new-build three-bed semi.
“When we first looked at the house and it was €380,000 we thought we could do that,” said Kolyln.
“But even then, we would have to ask for a mortgage exception. We don’t qualify for any grants and we didn’t when we bought the apartment. We will have a significant deposit of over €100,000 when we sell the apartment but we can’t afford a house. I work in radio and Dennis works in hospitality, but has been on PUP for the past four months. We are saving what we can.”
Determined to sell their apartment, the couple plan to move in with Kolyn’s parents until they can afford to buy a house closer to the capital.
“It’s not what we had planned at all, but we are hoping it’s a short-term fix. I hope that I might be in a situation in six to nine months to buy one of those new properties in Dunboyne.”