Emer McLysaght: I'm a bestselling author but I will fight to buy a house in Ireland

Emer McLysaght: I’m a bestselling author but I will fight to buy a house in Ireland

“Go and find 10 latest articles written about the Irish housing market and see if you can find an answer.” This was the advice I received recently when I was looking for advice on the best time to try to buy a house. I was warned that I would not find any consensus: 10 different answers, each colored by gloom.

My own journey home has barely begun and it is already heavy with gloom. I am a single woman who pays € 1,200 a month in rent, shares bills with no one and earns much less than most people think a best-selling author can rake in. To make exciting money on books, you have to go international and even then, for a long time – Long-term security is never guaranteed. Buying a house in Dublin or its surrounding counties is not for me, and it’s okay. I have been planning to move west for several years now, long before all my enemies took a break for it during the pandemic and bought up all the wonderfully renovated cottages I was aware of. Those that look small from the front but then have three bedrooms, a very spacious kitchen and a utility room. And yes, those wooden beams in the bathroom are original, thanks for asking.

My thoughts on buying a house are becoming increasingly clouded with desperation. When I did my homework and read the 10 articles, I was told that the Economic and Social Research Institute says that one in two people aged 24-35 will not own a home when they retire. I am a few years beyond the age limit, which only exacerbates the fear of insecurity and indignity in old age without a fully paid roof over my head. At the same time, the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland reported that although house price increases will slow, most properties will remain out of reach for people with average incomes. And for first-time buyers? Well, you might as well not care. Of course, there is the government’s new Help-to-Buy system for beginners, but it only covers new construction, and if there is one thing we know about this housing crisis, it is that there is not enough new construction to even top demand.

Ah yes, the government. Frustratingly blunt about everything to do with housing. Engaged in roaring about “units” and “skills” while dangerously sounding cuckoo and game money sweeps in and steals the floor heating under our feet. In the name of justice, more units are the answer, but we lack a sense of urgency. We want to hear that they are building more houses! Eases planning restrictions! Taxation of vacant properties! Protects tenants! Successive government policies that promote profit over people have led to a crisis that has homelessness at its critical center and blows out to people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and into pensions stuck in rental situations and unsuitable housing that does not offer any comfort or dignity.

The mortgage application process has an oral history similar to that of the brave hobbits who make their way to the burning hellish landscape on Mount Doom in The Lord of the Rings

The times when leaving Dublin to buy a house were over are the solution to affordable problems. Now the whole country is an issue of affordability. During my trip with ten items, I came across a piece that offers a selection of what is on offer around Ireland for under € 200,000. There were a couple of decent semi-ds – one in Cavan, one in Limerick – but anecdotally we can assume that competitive cash buyers soon sent the price above the € 200,000 threshold. The only one in the capital was a one-bedroom terrace cottage, the size of a Dublin 8 stamp, which came in at around 37 cents under the € 220,000 ceiling. It was accompanied by whimsical language about renovation potential and extensive modernization, but looked like a neglected garage. It will probably be resold for € 600,000 and is described on the property pages as a “bijou delight”. It would be negligent of me not to acknowledge the hypocrisy of the media lamenting the state of the housing market and the crisis, while supporting absurd standards and prices for clicks and advertising revenue.

When I think about applying for my first mortgage, my focus shifts from the shady monster of the housing crisis to the more special hell of applying. The mortgage application process has an oral history similar to that of the brave hobbits who make their way to the burning hellish landscape of Mount Doom in The Lord of the Rings. Everyone who has been through it reports back on the endless search for documents, printed in Elvin blood and kissed by a unicorn bat. And have you bought a scratch card in the last 27 years? Well, then you should not go over … into the mortgage approval club.

If I manage to make it, I suspect that I can only call in enough mortgage power to buy a small, rocky plot in the countryside in Sligo, but it will at least be my small, rocky plot in the countryside in Sligo. Nothing a log cabin and a watchdog can spruce up. Maybe I’m going offline? There is no incentive like committing to hundreds of thousands of euros in debt to really reinforce some anti-capitalist sentiment that property ownership is a scam.

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