On a sunny day back in June 2019, first-time buyer Lorraine Boland collected the keys to her dream home in the heart of Navan.
After years of renting, Lorraine and her husband Darren decided to move back in with Lorraine's father while they saved and got mortgage ready. They expected to stay there for at least a year, but fate had other plans for the family.
What began as a curious visit to an open house in a newly built Glenveagh estate quickly turned into the purchase of their dream home. Three years on, Lorraine still can't believe she found her dream house.
"Has it hit you yet?" I asked during the first few minutes of our call.
"No!" she replied instantly, "I still wake up and think, 'is this mine?'
"We were renting, and we moved back to my dad’s for six months. We thought we would be there for a year to save. Then we got the Help To Buy (HTB) scheme, and the ball just started to roll. The next thing we knew, we were in the house. We couldn't believe it. We were so lucky to get in before covid.”
Lorraine praises the HTB scheme for helping them achieve their goal of becoming homeowners. The incentive scheme for first-time property purchasers offers qualified applicants a percentage of their deposit based on the four tax years prior to application.
"They gave us nearly half of our deposit, which was unreal. It was such a help.”
The week Lorraine's application was granted, there was an open house in the area they had been hoping to buy.
"It was Mother's Day in 2019, and my partner was at work, so my son and I said we'd go up and look."
It was love at first sight and the house had the one non-negotiable on Lorraine and Darren's checklist - a sunny south facing garden.
"Building was starting on the new row, and they had south-facing gardens, so I chanced it and put my name down. There hadn't been many new builds in the previous few years around Navan. This was the first one, and it was in the area we wanted. We were like, 'we love it!'
"My sister-in-law worked in the bank, so we contacted her, and she got the ball rolling on the mortgage. About six weeks later, we owned the house."
Like most people waiting to get the keys to their new home, Lorraine was full of excitement, "We kept coming up every evening and looking into the house."
They wasted no time once they got their keys, moving in that very same day.
"We went and got our mattress from my dad's house. We had no blinds or floors, but we were like, 'we're staying here tonight!'.
"It's something you don't know if you'll ever do in your life, and then when it happens... It's some achievement."
"It's like it was meant to be", I say to her as she explains how the excitement is just as real today as it was in 2019.
"Yes! Definitely! It still feels amazing. It's like the first day we were here, every day. I just loved it so much.
"There's an amazing park just five minutes across the road that I go to every day with the dog. There are playgrounds and football fields, and we're only a couple of minutes from the town centre."
As well as finding a home close to family, the Bolands gained a community of neighbours and friends.
"Our families are local. My husband's parents are two minutes away, and my dad is five minutes away, so this area is where we wanted to stay.
"The couple next door is lovely. They always bring us in a gift at Christmas, and we give them one back. It's nice to have that comfort."
Glenveagh estates are well known for their summer parties, where neighbours come together for BBQs, catch-ups and family fun. Lorraine recalls the first one she went to and says she hopes to attend one this summer.
"It was amazing. The weather was beautiful, and we had sumo wrestler suits, bouncing castles, face painting, music all day and food trucks. Someone brought in a pony, and the kids rode around on him. Even when the entertainment stopped, the parents were still sitting out in their blankets on the green until ten o clock that night. It was just lovely to see."
Lorraine says that aside from organising fantastic social events, Glenveagh offers constant support to the community.
"They're great to be in contact with. I feel like I fell on my feet with Glenveagh. They're just so personable. It's great to be able to rely on them."
As Lorraine reflects on the benefits of buying a new build, she has one main piece of advice for other first-time buyers.
"Make sure you don't settle. You'll find what you want. It's out there."
Lorraine and Darren decided to take their time and enjoy the process of making their new house a home.
"You're going in with a blank canvas. You can do everything from scratch yourself, so you're not having to come in and take out anyone’s old stuff. Everything is your decision from the start."
"We got the garden done towards the end of last summer, so we'll get the use out of it this year. We did a lovely patio area, and we're just after finishing our shed at the side of the house. So, we're just doing it bit by bit. That's how we said we'd do it from the start."
"It must feel like a hotel!" I say to her as she's telling me about the fabulous storage units that the house came with.
"It is!!" she replied, "And I'm like, stop dirtying my hotel!"
To find out more about our work in Glenveagh communities, visit Our Communities.