Wednesday 21 March 2018

'We left the whole process saying we were never doing that again' - Trader-uppers on mortgage experience

JULIE AND JEFF: 11 months to get what they thought would be an easy mortgage deal
JULIE AND JEFF: 11 months to get what they thought would be an easy mortgage deal Newsdesk Newsdesk

Trader-uppers Julie and Jeff Ledwidge moved into a five-bed house in Carrickmines in November 2017. They had previously owned an apartment in Dublin.

"We bought in Carrickmines and it's our second buy," says Julie. "We were in an apartment for seven years: we bought at a great time and sold at a great time - which was the only reason we could make the transition from an apartment in town to a five-bed house."

When the offer came through on their apartment, says Jeff: "We had to take a leap of faith, we had to sell. At the time we still weren't approved for a mortgage."

Julie adds: "We weren't approved, but we said we couldn't let the buyer down because we knew how it felt to be messed around. We took a big risk and said, OK, let's accept. Worst case scenario, if it had fallen through, mum and dad said we could live with them for six months, a year, whatever, and just keep saving. They were so generous."

In fact, the couple put all their belongings in storage and ended up moving in with Julie's parents.

Even though their apartment sold for €50,000 over the asking price and they sought a relatively small mortgage, it took nearly a year to get mortgage approval. "We put down the deposit in November 2016," said Julie, "and the transaction went through in October 2017. Everyone told us we were in a great place, we had the equity and we were both in full-time work and in our early thirties, that we would get the mortgage and that would be that.

"We didn't think it was going to be such an ordeal. One bank never got back to us after we put the mortgage application through. After that we had to hire a mortgage broker (from GMC Mortgages) and it was the best thing we ever did, because he was fighting our battles. We thought they were just going to look at our equity and the relatively small mortgage we wanted, but they said no, this is the mortgage and this is your salary. They were stress-testing us to the absolute max."

Jeff recalls: "We were to get an exemption because we had so much equity. The bank was going to give us four and a half times our joint salary and we had to go off and show more saving for three months. But by the time we came back, the Central Bank had tightened up on exemptions so we were back down to three and a half times our salaries, and we fell short."

Julie adds: "We had got to the point we thought it wasn't going to happen, because things seemed quite bleak. But our mortgage broker rang one day, 11 months into the process, and said, 'It's done, it's through.' We couldn't believe it! It left us feeling quite overwhelmingly lucky just to be in the house. But we were baffled."

"On the plus side," says Jeff, "we were looking at prices going up and up and we had locked into the house at the 2016 price, so we were lucky."

"We left the whole process saying we were never doing that again," adds Julie. "We come out of this house in a box!"

Sunday Independent

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