Down at heart in docklands


TRENDS:News of the sale of cut-price apartments at Grand Canal Square angered ALISON O’RIORDAN

LAST Thursday morning when I saw the words “A docklands deal” on the front page of this property section, I felt like crying.

All day I eyed the block in question from my fifth-floor apartment window, in the next- door building on Hanover Street.

If there was a competition for throwing dirty looks, I would easily have come first, for those aesthetically beautiful Grand Canal Square apartments are being offered to first-time buyers for a sickening €190,000.

Two years ago, with help from my parents, I bought into the same sought-after riverside location in Dublin 2, but for the horrifying sum of €525,000.

It’s such a bitter taste of defeat as I stare out my window each morning that I leave the blind down continually.

Only those in the same situation can understand why I am nursing an injury. It may not be of the physical kind but it’s a wound nonetheless, a deep financial one.

The market’s collapse is the worst thing that has happened many young people of my generation.

In 2008, even as the market was softening, I honestly thought I had found my ideal home for a reasonable price.

I got caught up in the crazy mania of feeling I must have an apartment. Sleek Scandinavian furniture, designed for modern living, a roof garden and outdoor space made it all the more desirable.

That the new Grand Canal Square Residences in the Docklands, which are above a hotel planned for the square, have “marble bathrooms, high-gloss kitchens and floor-to-ceiling windows”, has only compounded my negative equity nightmare.

As a homeowner, my load was already heavy enough to carry as, stuck with a property I cannot sell, I struggle to meet my monthly repayments.

My father reminds me on a daily basis that I ploughed in head first and listened to no one. Hindsight is a very exact science and as I read the Grand Canal brochure describing the bathrooms as “white and grey flecked marble with high-spec chrome fittings, heated towel rails and mirrored cabinets”, I chastise myself for incarcerating myself in my own financial prison. A prison, I soon learned, that had no more than about 10 inmates. Today the other apartments in my building are filled to the brim with wise renters.

The only advantages I have are a balcony and a roof garden, extras for which I paid a horrifying €295,000.

I am so worried, I can hardly think of anything else. The words “docklands deal” have dominated my life since the launch last week.

Experts say the apartment market will take longer to recover than the market for any other type of Dublin property, primarily because of oversupply.

And the most depressing thing is the value of my apartment will not rise in the foreseeable future and may fall more, so I am stuck.

Each day in the newspapers, I eyeball three-bedroom houses in affluent areas such as Ranelagh, Killiney and Ballsbridge on sale for around what I paid for my apartment.

At least I can put the newspaper down or flick over the page, however there is no getting away from the apartments across the street. With two-beds ranging from €230,000, this luxurious complex has turned into an “eyesore” of a development for me.

Yesterday the bill for the management fee came in. It is for €1,600 – another figure I carefully choose to ignore back then. And come December 7th, I will probably have a property tax on top of this.