16 Feb 2017
So you're all set to buy your first home. You've scrimped and saved for years to get a deposit watching the market go down and then up.
Now, armed with your freshly approved mortgage, you are ready to buy just like EBS customer Paul Furlong (pictured here) who bought his first home in north Dublin.
Like all first time buyers, you're impatient to snap up that dream home before prices get out of hand.
But hold on just a second. This is probably the biggest financial decision of your life. You don't want all of that preparation to go to waste if you make the wrong decision.
Even hardened veterans of the market – the trader uppers – find plenty of pitfalls waiting, never mind novice first time buyers.
Here are nine things you should know before diving in to that house purchase to make sure you get the best deal.
Set up searches and property alerts so you know instantly when a property becomes available and can act swiftly. You'll also be able to keep track of all homes in your price range and areas of interest. Check out the Property Price Register to track how much houses in your target area are actually selling for.
With a scarcity of homes for sale in our cities, it's a competitive market for buyers. You may have to view a lot of homes before you get that perfect starter home.
Keep track of each property you view by taking your own photos. And make a list of properties you like, ideally on a spreadsheet, with plenty of notes and updates on the bidding.
Know your area
A well-known developer based in our capital city was once asked during the boom if he thought Bulgarian apartments offered a good deal. Never mind Budapest, he said he wouldn't buy in Dublin 4, across the Liffey from his base, because he doesn't know the area.
That's good advice. It takes time to get to know an area. There are good parts of what are perceived to be bad areas and bad parts of good areas.
Every home has to have a Building Energy Rating (BER) certificate. This is an important factor when deciding on how much to pay for a home.
A low energy rating could cost you a fortune in heating bills and, as energy costs continue to rise, it will be a major factor in your home's future value. Also be aware of what you can get grants for like the Warmer Homes Scheme and the Better Energy Homes Scheme.
A scarcity of property in Dublin is leaving a lot of frustrated would-be buyers out there. If you can't afford to buy the kind of house you want in the area you want think again. If you want to buy at all either alter your expectations - or the area in which you're prepared to live.
A rising market in Dublin is starting to push people further out of the city once more. You can get a better deal by accepting this and getting in ahead of the posse.
Never mind the velour wallpaper
You can have a good laugh about a property's dodgy décor (preferably, after you leave). But it's not a deal-breaker. That woodchip wallpaper or avocado-coloured bathroom suite can easily be changed. In fact, dated or dubious decoration can work in your favour by putting off novice buyers and holding back the price.
Concentrate on what's important
Property veterans won't be put off by anything that's not too costly to put right. But they will be able to tot up to the nearest cent, the true cost of pricey deficiencies such as rotten windows, creaky extensions and the lack of a decent central heating system.
Concentrate on the factors that really decide a property's price: location, size, condition, rental potential, proximity to shops, schools and transport and leisure facilities. Gardens are also important but don't get too hung up on whether it's south-facing or not – as the blurbs of some agents would suggest. For the number of times the sun is going to be shining down on you in Ireland, it shouldn't be a deal breaker!
Fools rush in
If you are interested, don't rush in with a bid at or above the asking price. All you are doing is stoking up the price. But don't be afraid to make a bid either. At the early stages of a private treaty stage it is subject to a survey and far from binding. You can back out later if anything nasty turns up, even after putting down a deposit.
Lenders may not require you get a survey done. But for a few hundred euros it's well worth investing in. This is particularly true if it's an old property or in an area that's prone to pyrite damage. A report identified 10,300 homes in Ireland that are possibly contaminated by pyrite.
Apart from revealing costly deficiencies that could scupper the deal, it will provide you with a list of things that need attention in your new home if you do decide to go ahead with the purchase. A favourable survey isn't a waste of money either: it'll be a strong selling point if you ever want to move on up the property ladder.
Thinking of buying your first home in Ireland?
Don't forget to check out our First Time Buyers Guide.
You can also use our mortgage calculator to find out how much you may be able to borrow.
And to chat through your mortgage options book a 30 Minute Mortgage Meeting today!
EBS customer Paul Furlong was paid a gratuity.
The content of this blog is expressed in broad terms and is limited to general information purposes only. Readers should always seek professional advice to address issues arising in specific contexts and not seek to rely on the information in this blog which does not constitute any form of advice or recommendation by EBS d.a.c.
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