Buying an apartment in the city center
Buying a house in Dublin is not easy, and buying an apartment is even more difficult.
This is partly due to the housing crisis (there are not enough apartments for sale, and fewer new building projects... which leads to more competition), but also to the very high prices depending on the area.
When you're deciding between buying a house or an apartment, the main deciding factor is the importance you give to being close to the city center: if that is one of your main priorities, you'll want to buy an apartment instead of a house.
Here's why: houses close to the city center have astronomical prices, the cheapest ones starting from €275,000-300,000 (and this is before the bidding wars), while apartments can be a bit cheaper and are often within the new €220,000 threshold for the 20% deposit.
However, if being close to the city center is not at the top of your wish list, you'll want to consider a house instead: if you travel a bit further away from the city center, for the price of an apartment you can easily buy a house with a garden.
This is not to say that apartments are cheap!
It all depends on the area: just recently a penthouse in Ballsbridge (237sq m - 2,554sq ft) sold for €2.45 million! And two recent additions in the heart of the city, are respectively €290,000 and €450,000.
But you can certainly find great properties close to the center!
Here are two interviews with friends who bought apartments in the city center, each for approximately €250,000: M. bought a two bed apartment near Croke Park and C. a duplex near the Guinness Storehouse.
1- How would you describe your house hunting experience in one word?
2- What led you to decide to buy a property?
M: Rent prices are very high, and my parents were willing to help me buy a house.
C: Ultimately, it was an investment decision, you have to understand that the earlier you’re on the property ladder the better in the long run, even if it may be more expensive and more stressful than renting.
3- Why did you choose this area of Dublin to buy your house and have you considered any other areas?
M: I chose it for the walking distance to everything you need in Dublin. The prices are quite low because of the bad reputation. I did consider other northside locations, but never southside (too pricy).
C: I made a list of priorities. One of the main ones was to stay in the city centre. It makes sense for the moment and for what I’m looking for. I work in the centre, and that takes up the majority of the day so the less time I spend community the better for me.
4- What was your path in financing the house purchase?
M: I had help from my family.
C: I had a little inheritance money lined up so that helped. I bought by myself so getting a mortgage was tough because of the EU’s bank restrictions. I had to rely on a loan from my parents instead and work that way to be able to afford a place.
5- What was the worst or most difficult part of this experience (e.g. house hunting, getting a mortgage, dealing with the real estate agent or the solicitor, etc.)?
M: Dealing with the real estate agent and the solicitor: it took three months to go from sale agreed to actually moving in. I wasn't sure I was going to get the keys until the very last day, I had to move in one night.
C: House hunting and finding something that was right within the price range. It’s important to list the priorities and what you value most but it’s hard to find the perfect place. You realize that when looking round places, you visit a lot of places that you immediately know aren’t right and it’s hard not to feel like it’s a waste of time.
6- What are three advice you would like to give to current house hunters?
1. Get your finances straight
2. Do lots of viewings
3. When the sale has been agreed, call the solicitor and estate agent every second day. If you don't, it'll take forever.
1: Write down a list of the property must haves, e.g. city center, garden, close to shops, quiet etc.
2: Make it as a hobby and if you don’t like a place immediately, have a look anyway to get a better idea of what really doesn’t work.
3: Avoid a bidding war, not because you want to save money, but because it wastes time. The estate agent won’t tell the owner until it’s a
Buying an apartment certainly has its advantages: if it's close to the city center, its value might increase more over time (or, it certainly won't drop as much as a house in the suburbs) and it's more appealing for young new buyers.
However, I always feared obnoxious and noisy neighbors (from whom you can't escape as easily as if you were renting), and, of course, the quality of the building itself: doing renovation works is a lot more complicated when you have to consider the apartments above and below you!
A couple of extra tips if you decide to buy an apartment:
1 - Check the solvency of the Management Company
2 - Check the proportion of renters vs.
3 - Check how maintenance free the layout of the building is - this will impact your annual management fees (which can easily amount to €1.500 - 2.000). For example a lot of elevators will mean a higher management fee, while open balcony walkways are easier to keep clear and have the advantage of fresh air.
And who knows? Maybe you'll see an apartment, fall in love with and get it after your first offer (as happened to M.!).
A couple of articles that might interest you:
How to buy in Dublin city center without a massive mortgage
Dublin could become an enclave for rich, unless housing policy is changed