Isn’t it amazing how this time of year stirs up so many memories from years past. The festive aromas transport us back to our childhood kitchens, the movies take us back to afternoons spent in our Nana’s front room.
I was sorting through a box of homemade decorations with my two youngest children yesterday. The decorations all lovingly made by their three older siblings before them. Questions were flung at me; ‘Who made this Mom?’ ‘Where did this come from?’ ‘When was this made Mama?’ As the little ones admired a battered paper plate that had once been a wreath my eldest daughter made in playschool.I was quickly transported back to our first Christmas in what is now our family home, when that wreath hung on the kitchen cupboard door. After a most exciting, yet super stressful year we finally had a home we could call our own. It’s a dream held by so many for so long, Christmas in a house that is home. Security for your family and for your children in the future.
It is far from easy become a homeowner. As someone who reads a lot I wanted everything written in black and white (and in english!), this what you need to do and the documentation you need. What I wanted, needed even, was a step by step guide to buying a house in Ireland; it would have made things so much easier.
Of course not being one to make things easy, we didn’t actually buy a house. Oh we looked at so many, new and old, here and there but none of them stirred up any sort of emotion in us. And buying a home is emotional. We, like so many others in Ireland, were renting a house and we really loved where we were living. It was close to my husband’s work, close to where our daughter would go to school, rural but not isolating, beaches only a five minute drive away. Alas there were no houses for sale on this road.
However, I can remember as though it were yesterday, my husband rushing in the front door of our rental house and telling me that a site, a little piece of land had come up for sale…..just across the road…eeek!!! We were delighted!! We had mortgage approval and life insurance in place and so were fortunate enough to be able to ring the auctioneer and make an offer straight away. Something else a first time buyer may not be aware of is that you must have life insurance in place when taking out a mortgage, for many people this can be quite an uncomfortable subject to deal with but it is so important and I look at it as security instead of putting a price on mortality. Now, never be under the assumption that the asking price is what you will pay for something! Somebody else was interested in our piece of land….nightmare. Between the to and fro over a few days we settled on a price €10000 over the asking price. Then before we could actually sign, seal and deliver on anything we actually had to look for planning permission. This involves tests on the land, architects, engineers, your solicitor and of course lots more money that you may not necessarily have budgeted for if you weren’t aware of it.
I was pregnant while we were building so took a little bit of a back seat from the actual construction phase and instead took charge of the fun stuff; paint colours, curtains, furniture and of course, my beloved kitchen. Naturally of course we were building over the winter months, as only we would! We lost time due to the weather, which was completely unavoidable. As time moved on however it was becoming difficult to pay rent and a mortgage so we got the last of the paperwork in order; we had contents insurance in place so that transfer to house & contents was straight forward, we set a deadline, we were moving in April, getting into our house before May. We moved in, spent our first night in our new home on the 30th April 2005. How was that for timing??
As our first Christmas approached I did buy the biggest Christmas tree I could find and that tree served us so well and played host to so many Santa visits, 11 years we had it! The process of buying, building, becoming a homeowner is stressful, no doubt about it. It is also very exciting too and your home is your space, your haven in which to make your memories. My advice to anybody considering buying or building your own home – go for it! I know it is daunting, I’ve worn the shoes, worn out the t-shirt.Increasing property prices all over Ireland have left many first-time buyers wondering when and if they will get on the property ladder, but there is hope. The recent announcement from the Irish Government and its Help to Buy incentive in Budget 2017 is designed to assist first time buyers obtain the required deposit to secure a mortgage to buy or build a new home.
I’m off to reminisce with some more of my Christmas decorations, perhaps you will be creating memories in your home this Christmas too. Best of luck if you are!
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