Step one, move back to Mam’s: how Grace Mongey got on the property ladder
With a new baby, it was time for the beauty blogger to give up renting in order to buy
Beauty blogger Grace Mongey: ‘We got the call saying the house was ours, and it was such a surreal moment.’ Photograph: Aidan Crawley
The way the current media narrative tells it, millennials are finding it near nigh impossible to get a toehold on the current property ladder. Much of it has to do with the relative lack of credit and skyrocketing house prices, but according to some, pricey hipster brunches and overpriced flat whites play their part, too.
Make-up blogger Grace Mongey is quick to rebuff this particular narrative.
“In my group of friends, three in the last year have bought houses and another couple are saving and hoping to buy this year,” she says. “I’ve always wanted to buy my own house. Some people don’t want to buy, or would rather travel, but I did all that in my early 20s and then had a baby at 28. We were intent on settling down and having a place that I knew was mine.”
Mongey, who blogs under the name facesbygrace and has 125,000 followers on Instagram, went about securing her first home in south Dublin with impressive focus, moving home to her mother’s house (she is originally from Tallaght in Dublin) along with her partner Chris and baby Sienna. Within a 17-month period, the couple had saved their deposit after they put what money they would normally have spent on rent into a savings account.
“We were meant to move into my sister’s house before Sienna arrived, but it didn’t work out,” explains Mongey. “Mam said, ‘you’re about to have a baby. Why don’t you move in for a month?’ We moved in with her in October 2016 and by new year, Chris and I were thinking, ‘will we just save and buy a house next year?’ We were lucky in that Mam was so supportive and gave us the space we needed, I’d say she can’t wait to get rid of us at this stage.”
Having done away with rent payments, saving money turned out to be easier than first imagined.
“As we were new parents, it wasn’t like we were out a lot,” she says. “Our date night was going to the movies.”
Yet there was nothing straightforward about Grace and Chris’s path to home ownership. While Chris had a full-time and secure job in eBay, the make-up blogger was a freelancer in an unfamiliar and untested industry.
“I really did think it would be a struggle being self-employed,” she admits. “I had my accounts up to date and a brilliant accountant. He helped in every way possible.
“In the end, the mortgage adviser at the bank said she was delighted to be able to give me a mortgage as it means she now has a template for when other bloggers apply for mortgages.
“It’s not like this [job] is something I just picked up – I was able to prove that I’d had seven years’ experience so the bank knew that this was not just a new thing for me.”
While most people secure a mortgage they can afford and start looking in the appropriate price bracket, Mongey admits that, almost accidentally, they did everything “backwards”. They even managed to sidestep the dreaded weekend viewings and the pavement pounding involved.
“We didn’t really look anywhere,” she explains. “We found an estate we fell in love with, that has different houses in different price ranges. We drove around it and looked online [at available properties]. We registered our interest and then got a call, telling us that there was one house left in the phase.”
The couple could not make the open house viewing, but a day later they went, with their mothers, to look at the house from the outside.
“Everyone was like, ‘this is fab’, so we rang up and put the deposit down the next day,” recalls Mongey. “I hadn’t even been inside, but the minute we did walk through the door I was so happy as it was more than we expected.”
After they put the deposit down, they went to the bank and secured their mortgage in principle.
As their house was a new build, they received significant help with their €40,000 deposit via the Help To Buy scheme.
“It would have been much more of a struggle without it,” she says. “Had we stayed renting in our apartment, it would have taken even longer.
“We got the call saying the house was ours, and it was such a surreal moment,” says Mongey. “It had been a stressful few weeks waiting for it all to come together after we put the deposit down. The agents were waiting to sign and we didn’t yet have approval.
“My dad is in heaven and I felt he had been holding that house for us somehow. It was a massively proud moment, knowing that we own our house.”
Now, all that’s left to do is move in and enjoy the fun of creating new interiors.
“The whole house is painted grey and is very minimalistic and clean, so the plan now is to add pops of colour in every room. I don’t want to have the same colour on the walls for 10 years. The interiors thing is so new for me, but everywhere I look I’m inspired.”