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"As a solo applicant, it was a bit of a daunting experience, but I was sure I wanted to do it." - First Time Buyer Sonia recalls buying an apartment by herself


Sonia was determined to turn her dream of being a homeowner into reality.

Shortly after Sonia graduated college, she set her sights on buying an apartment. She knew that she needed to put her head down and save, and at just 20 years old, that is exactly what she did.

Now, as she recalls her journey, it is clear that Sonia was destined to achieve her goal. She had everything she needed, between her strong mindset and supportive family, not to mention her budgeting skills. So, when her dream apartment came up for sale, she was more than ready.

It wasn't all plain sailing, Sonia went through some twists and turns as a first-time buyer, but she never wavered. Now, as she looks back on her experience, one thing is for sure, she wouldn't change a thing!

Getting deposit ready

"As a solo applicant, it was a bit of a daunting experience, but I was sure I wanted to do it. I'm a firm believer that if you set your mind to something, you can achieve it. I also had the support of my family and friends, so I didn't feel alone during the process.”

Her first step was to get her budget in order and save for a deposit. The importance of budgeting was something she learned from a young age, which helped a lot in those early days of getting mortgage ready.

"I graduated college at 19, and I started my professional job shortly after. Coming from a Nigerian background, saving is a life skill that is essentially passed on to you by your parents. Most of my peers were still in college, so there was very little pressure to go out and spend money."

Sonia made the decision to remain in her family home while she saved. Having the support of her family is something she says helped massively during this time.

"One other major thing that helped me stay on track with my savings was living at home. I was so grateful for that during my saving process. I knew if I had gone off to rent, I would have found it harder to save. So, I stayed put, and my mother encouraged it.

"I knew I had to seize the opportunity to save whilst I was still under her roof. I made contributions to the household, but it certainly did not match what might have been considered rental expenses. I was very lucky. Mum, if you're reading this, I owe you plenty!"

When it comes to budgeting, some of Sonia's tips include:

  • Be strict with your budget - A budget can help alleviate some of the stress and keep you in check.
  • Keep it simple - Sonia says, "It doesn't have to be on a spreadsheet. You can grab a piece of paper and pen and get jotting. Or better still, use the notes section on your phone."
  • Organise your accounts - "Separate your savings account from your current account. Don't tempt yourself!"
  • Make your savings automatic - "If possible, set up a standing order so that a chunk of your wages goes straight into your savings account."

Research and requirements

Sonia began looking into the mortgage process online, seeking out blogs and videos to help her understand what was needed to get the ball rolling. However, it wasn't until she spoke to a mortgage consultant that things started to click into place.

"My initial research was on YouTube. I also came across a few interesting Irish blogs and articles on savings. However, I wasn't versed in mortgage lingo or the whole process until I met a mortgage consultant who broke it down into plain English."

When she was choosing her mortgage provider, she had two important things on her checklist - the option of cashback and competitive interest rates.

"Cashback and an affordable mortgage interest rate on a fixed term, initially for the first few years, was very important to me. I was doing this on my own, so I wanted to feel secure and know what to expect each month in repayments.

"Cashback was great as it meant I could use that to purchase some of my furniture and get stuck into the most exciting part of the whole process -decorating! My love for interior design, mixed with being a total introvert, was why I longed for a space to call my own. Somewhere I could design and create without the restrictions that may have come with renting."

House hunting

With saving and research sorted, Sonia applied for her mortgage and began house hunting.

"The mortgage application process itself was fairly straightforward. After two weeks, I got my approval in principle in October 2020. House hunting went just as smoothly.

"Before I got pre-approved for a mortgage, I looked online and saw a few apartments. I was excited at the prospect of a fixer-upper project until I realised I had only one of two essentials, the patience but not the funds!

"Luckily, to my surprise, I found a new build apartment and fell in love straight away! When it went up for sale I had already received mortgage credit approval so it ticked all the boxes. It was meant to be."

Fast forward ten months, after some frustrating delays during the closing of the sale, Sonia was elated to draw down her mortgage and finally pick up her keys.

"After many months of waiting on communication between solicitors, the drawdown process was successful. It was the most amazing feeling when I got the keys. An unforgettable moment. I wouldn't change a thing about that faithful day, not even being soaked from the rain as I walked out of the solicitor's office with a bunch of keys in hand."

Now, after coming out the other side, Sonia's advice to anyone who is in her shoes now is simple, "Don't worry. What is for you won't pass you by."

She also recommends leaning on the expertise of professionals, from your solicitor to your mortgage consultant and estate agent. Sonia believes that there is no such thing as a silly question.

"The key learning that I would like to stress to first time buyers or solo homeowners is to ask questions. Bombard any professional you come across during the process with questions. That is why they are there. There is nothing too silly to ask!"

Wherever you are on your home buying journey, permanent tsb are here to support you, every step of the way. Book an Appointment today to chat with our dedicated Mortgage Team and start your journey home or visit permanenttsb.ie for more information.

Featured customers received a gratuity for participating in this advertisement. Offer available to new applicants who receive a full letter of approval up to 30/06/2022. 2% cashback at drawdown will be paid on the amount of the mortgage advanced. Excludes 4 Year Fixed Home Loan New Business Rates, tracker, buy-to-let, negative equity and applicants refinancing an existing permanent tsb mortgage. 2% cashback at drawdown is paid into the customer’s mortgage paying account (which does not need to be a permanent tsb account) within 40 working days of mortgage drawdown. The qualifying period (11 January 2016 until 30 June 2022) may be extended as permanent tsb decides.

You may have to pay charges if you pay off a fixed-rate loan early.

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