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How to buy your first home: from saving a deposit to collecting your keys

A new guide to buying a first home pulls together advice from property influencers

While buying a house can be a wonderful experience, there are some common pitfalls. Photograph: iStock

Anyone who has ever bought a property will know the stress involved in finding the right place, agreeing on a price, ticking all the legal boxes, and sealing the deal.

No matter how seasoned a property mogul you might be, there is always an element of anxiety in the process, and this is multiplied for first-time buyers who may not be aware of all the necessary requirements and the best path to take on the journey to becoming a homeowner.

With this in mind, a group of property influencers who met on Instagram – Shay Lally, Ben Thompson, Ciarán Mulqueen, Chrissy Hughes, and Eoin O’Connor – have come together to create a guide to help people get their feet on the first rung of the property ladder.

In the Irish Home Buyer’s Journal they’ve pooled their knowledge and created a one-stop guide to everything people need to know when they’re buying their first home.


“We all come from a variety of different backgrounds with varying areas of expertise,” says Lally, who is a quantity surveyor.

“Eoin O’Connor is a mortgage broker, Ben Thompson is an estate agent, Ciarán Mulqueen is Ireland’s most famous first-time buyer and Chrissy Hughes is an expert in helping people to navigate their way through the property purchase process. We met on social media where we all have our own very successful Instagram accounts.”

The Irish Home Buyer’s Journal costs €19.99 plus P&P and is available at

They’ve been working together since March of this year after noticing a gap in the market which they felt they could fill with the journal.

“Another deciding factor was that we really wanted to help home buyers and thought that by creating the journal, it would be a great place to have all of our collective expertise and experience in one place for people who are looking to buy a home.”

They also wanted to work together on a collective project, says Lally.

“ So now, our collaboration, The Irish Home Buyer’s Journal contains the most up-to-date professional information in the one place, which saves time and money and means that prospective buyers are better informed and more in control when buying a property,” Lally says.

“ In the current climate it can be so difficult for first-time buyers as they really need the help of expert advice, which, for the most part, they are not getting elsewhere.”

He says the journal will brings purchasers “ on the home-buying journey”. “It includes tips on everything from saving for your deposit right through to collecting the keys and moving in.”

Lally, who has 26,000 followers on instagram, says the guide will help ease people through the process of buying a house and save them money to boot – with tips on everything from saving for the deposit and getting mortgage ready to applying for a loan, finding a property, making sure everything is in working order and closing the sale. There are even tips on how to carry out an initial do-it-yourself survey and what to look out for.

It has guidance on how to save and reach your target and has designated columns to record your budget and your saving progress. It advises that saving is not just important for amassing a deposit, but also to show the bank you can afford the mortgage.

Common pitfalls

While buying a house can be a wonderful experience, there are some common pitfalls that many first-time buyers discover, and the quantity surveyor says it is very important to engage the services of professionals and ensure to do proper research into the property before any agreement takes place.

“One common mistake that many buyers make is that they don’t speak to a mortgage broker early enough,” says Lally. “They often think they may not be eligible or that they won’t qualify for the mortgage they require [so don’t seek advice] – but an experienced broker can help them get mortgage ready in less time than they would think.

“Another common mistake is that many buyers are too specific in what they are looking for – so we would suggest they widen their search criteria and (desired buying) area as this will open up a lot more options for them.

“I would also stress that when buying a property which requires some work, be sure to get the house surveyed and talk to a quantity surveyor to discuss the cost of the work required beforehand. This is very important, particularly at the moment as works are likely to cost a lot more than many people think because the cost of construction has gone up.”

Being realistic, learning not to be in too much of a hurry and making sure to have enough funds are also important criteria for people who are looking to get into the property market.

“The biggest hurdle facing many people is the mortgage limit, as borrowers can only qualify for a sum which is 3.5 times what their income is,” says Lally. “On top of this, there is a historic shortage of property available, so it takes most first-time buyers at least years from the time they start house hunting to finally getting their keys and it is important to remember that.

“I would also encourage people to be disciplined with regard to saving and spending when applying for a mortgage and make sure to set their maximum budget. Have patience and you will get there in the end.”

The book is not only a means of helping people on their journey to becoming homeowners; anyone who purchases it will also be helping a worthy charity – 10 per cent of the proceeds will go towards helping the national housing and homeless charity, the Peter McVerry Trust.

To follow the Instagram accounts of the property experts involved in the book, visit @houses_to_restore – Shay Lally; @crazyhouseprices – Ciaran Mulqueen; @irishhomemagazine – Ben Thompson; @the_mortgage.guy – Eoin O'Connor and @firsttimebuyersireland – Chrissy Hughes.

The Irish Home Buyer's Journal costs €19.99 plus P&P and is available at

Top tips for first-time buyers

1 Build a savings record
2 Speak to a mortgage broker early in the process
3 Don't be too specific – widen your search criteria and buying area
4 Make yourself known to the estate agent
5 Don't waste time with cheeky offers
6 Get the property surveyed so you know how much improvement works will really cost