The Irish housing crisis
I watched the RTê documentary on Ireland’s property crisis, and I have to admit that it’s worse than I imagined - it really gives you a 360 degrees view of the many people that are affected by this crisis.
Even with the frenzied house viewings and the depressing exercise of constantly adapting my expectations, I still had *hope* of finding a house and I now I realise how lucky I was.
My experience was limited to the house hunting aspect, from the perspective of someone who had the financial backing to buy a small house. Many families not only are at risk of loosing their home, but they don't even have the hope of ever owning one. And there many other people whose situation might not be as grave, but it's still very stressful.
Since it's been two years since I started looking for a house (February 2015), I wanted a fresh perspective regarding the housing market in Dublin. So, I interview a good friend who recently bought a property in a new development (a duplex) - here's her experience.
(1) What led you to decide to buy a house?
This is something we contemplated for many years, we just never pushed ourselves to save money for it. It was probably mid or end of 2014 that we started to take it seriously and started to think about saving to achieve it, it was a bit of a challenge back then.
Understanding how things really worked and what people were trying to sell you, for way too much money, was a shocker at times.
Then we started to visit houses and the more we visited, the more serious we were about it. I must say we were very relaxed and picky about the properties we were checking out. We had high standards and expectations and had a low budget in mind.
The more we searched for properties, the more our “must-have” list changed. Features that were a priority or that we liked when we first started house hunting, were no longer as important or we were willing to drop them.
You then start thinking about the money you will need for renovation. Let’s be honest, it’s a rarity that you’ll find a property that doesn’t need to be renovated. We realised pretty quickly that for a second hand house, you would need to add a renovation budget on top of what you might be paying for the house. How much work does the property need? How much would that cost? - headaches before you even start bidding.
From January 2017 we started to look at areas we’ve never been before considered and that were further away. Commuting wasn’t something we wanted to do but at this point we were like “why not?.” We found some lovely gems within our budget, but we were even more delighted to find out we could afford a brand new home. So in February 2017 we put our deposit down for a new development.
(2) When you were watching the RTê documentary on the property crisis, what were your thoughts?
I felt anxiety after learning the struggles some people have. When we originally moved to Dublin in 2007, we were paying €1000/month for a shoebox sized studio in Rathmines - and this was the norm. Overall we knew it was difficult to find decent accommodation in Dublin, but we rented that studio for over 4 years, and we never faced those struggles as our rent was affordable and we had protection through the 4% rule in the rent pressure zone.
(3) How did your expectations change while you were looking for a house?
Sometimes we regretted not buying after the crash, but back then it was not the best time to buy for us, as we were just beginning our careers.
I was so naive! I wanted everything nice, perfect, close to the city centre and of quality. We wanted at least 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. By the end we were looking at anything that we thought we could renovate and we didn’t even mind bidding for 1 bedroom-1 bathroom (40-50sqm2) apartments as long as we liked it, had a city center location and saw potential in it.
(4) How did you approach buying in a new development?
We never imagined we could afford a brand new home, but in the end we put a booking deposit down for a 3 brand new bed duplex.
We saw the plans for the new developments, local area plans and let the estate agent know we were interested in them - just out of curiosity. A couple of weeks later, we received an invitation to go for the pre-launch. We went on the Thursday, queued and decided to go for it.
On the day we weren’t able to secure a house as everything was sold out by the time is was our turn, but we managed to get one on the following Saturday as a few more units were released. The show homes were nice quality, the new properties were all A rated and have quite a few advantages to second hand homes.
(5) How have you find your experience with the solicitors, builders, estate agents?
As my husband has worked in law firms for the last decade, he knew several solicitors so picking one was easy. She’s been great and very straight forward, we also felt she was taking care of our interests.
There has been delays in general with the entire development/building process. We considered this when we reserved the property so we’re not surprised to still be waiting after we were told it would be completed by the end of May 2017.
Estate Agents? The ones we had contact with are terrible to deal with. Long story short, those people don’t communicate and always provide completely different information to every buyer. They are there to make money and as the developments were all selling out within a few hours, they just tell you what you want to hear instead of the truth!
(6) Do you have any specific advice regarding solicitors, builders, estate agents?
If you’re buying a new property, be prepared for delays ahead of time especially if NAMA or receivers are involved. Also, start or join a Facebook or Whatsapp group, this is super handy to stay up to day with progress and get an overall idea of what might be happening with the development.
Here are a few interesting articles: