Here I am, house-hunting again. But this time it’s in Sydney
To put this in context, even in south Co Dublin, which experienced the biggest jump in house prices in the second quarter of this year, average monthly rents for a three-bedroom property in the first quarter were €1,662, according to Daft.ie, which is €175 less per month than you would pay for one of the better three-beds in Parramatta.
Getting to see places is not easy either. At any given time, only 1 to 2 per cent of all the rental properties in Sydney are available for rent. Viewings are held twice a week on an open-house basis and last strictly 15 minutes. Competition is intense.
If you make it through the viewing with your nerves intact, you submit an application along with just about every bit of paper you have ever received, short of your 25m swimming certificate, and a week’s rent as a holding deposit. Then you wait a few days for the owner either to accept or reject you.
Despite all this, most people in Sydney still regard renting as the best option.
The average weekly rent may be high at A$500 for a house, but actually buying anything is like trying to get a foothold on Mars as the average house costs A$670,000 and the price is expected have risen by 19 per cent by 2016.
But it’s one thing Sydney acting like the global property crash never happened. It’s another thing parts of Dublin behaving like it.
The news this week that asking prices in south Co Dublin have risen by anywhere from 3.9 per cent, according to myhome.ie, which is owned by The Irish Times, to 12.2 per cent, according to Daft.ie, even while they continued to decline nationally, may have left some of us gobsmacked, but it won’t have surprised many of those who have been looking to buy a home in the area.
In recent months, stories recounted by house-hunting friends have been giving me uncomfortable flashbacks to 2006 (bar the part where, now, the banks carry out due diligence on putative borrowers.)
The overcrowded viewings; the uninterested estate agents; the feeling of desperation as the bids creep skywards; and the agent’s refusal to take your calls until you have got all your documentation in place.
Part of the reason for this is the shortage of three- to four-bedroom properties in the area – a situation that is not helped by people like me, stuck with houses we paid too much for, on tracker mortgages we are terrified to lose.
But that doesn’t explain all of it. It can’t account for the slight whiff of desperation that seems to have once again taken hold of parts of the market. Most are still in the doldrums of course.
Figures released last year by the Central Statistics Office suggested that more people were opting to live in apartments, and almost three in every 10 people were renting. Yet in the most affluent area in the country, property prices have begun to recover at rates that suggest that even what was, by many estimates, the worst property crash in world history wasn’t enough to shake the Irish obsession with home ownership.