‘We watch reports of increasing house prices with horror’

Readers share their experiences of house hunting in today’s market

Unless there is ‘some unexpected significant shock or a substantial increase in housing supply’, prices will continue to climb, the ESRI says. Photograph: iStock/Getty Images

Unless there is ‘some unexpected significant shock or a substantial increase in housing supply’, prices will continue to climb, the ESRI says. Photograph: iStock/Getty Images


A new report published by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) on Tuesday predicts Irish house prices will rise by at least 20 per cent over the next three years.But this does not mean another property bubble is inflating, the think tank claims, adding that by “international comparisons, Irish prices appear to be quite affordable”.

The Irish Times asked readers to share their experiences. Are Irish house prices “quite affordable”, in their view? Below is a selection of the responses we received.

Maria McDonnell, Dublin: ‘Who are these people who find houses to be affordable?’

In a country where a couple in their mid 30s, who have both worked full time since leaving third level education, without dependents and with decent incomes, can’t afford to buy a house in Dublin that is either a) not in a economically or socially depressed area, or b) over an hour’s commute from their workplace in the city centre, I wonder who these people are who find houses to be affordable?

John-Paul Foley, Maynooth, Co Kildare: ‘Eventually there will be a lack of workers in Dublin to provide essential services’

I am a secondary school teacher in my mid-30s, and my wife is a dental nurse. We have a combined salary of just under €65,000 gross. We live in Maynooth but there is no opportunity for us to be able to afford to buy a house here. Our options are to move and have a long commute to our jobs in the Dublin area, or to move jobs. This is hard to do as a teacher, as job security is hard to find.

I changed career from a good job in banking to become a teacher at 31, and have only just become permanent this year. If nurses, gardai and other such public sector service workers cannot afford to live in Dublin, eventually there will be a lack of people available to provide these essential services to those with better paying jobs who can afford to live there.

Seamus Dooley, Dublin: ‘We watch reports i of increasing prices and lack of supply with horror’

In 2016 my partner and I applied for a mortgage. Both on €32,000 a year, we were refused as we did not earn enough, according to the bank. We waited and got salary increases to €40,000 each, which was fantastic, but we soon realised that in the few months that had passed, our hope of securing a property in the areas we had previously considered was gone, as house prices had rose considerably in that time. We now watch regular reports in the media of increasing prices and lack of supply with horror. We have accepted that we won’t be buying a home in the current market.

The price of rent however is crippling in Dublin. Moving back home to rural Ireland is out as there are so few professional jobs there. I thought there was a realisation and a political will to solve the problem, and that was something to hold on to. That was until the Taoiseach’s comments on housing last week. Now I don’t believe there is, and that has really infuriated me. I resent the situation we are in as a country, and I will be showing my local Fine Gael representatives this in the next election, unless some serious progress is made towards a solution.

Caoimhe Kerins, Dublin 7: ‘We were evicted last year’

Both my partner and I work full time in professional roles. We have been renting in Dublin City for 10 years. We were evicted last year after our landlord told us she was moving back into the house (another tenant is in there now). We lost the only house our daughter had ever known as home, and faced a scary time trying to find somewhere to live that was close to our local services, family and friends.

I have worked full time my entire adult life. My partner was unemployed for most the recession, or working zero-hour contracts, so we were not in a position to start saving until last year and that has been a challenge. We have a three-year-old daughter who has been in full-time childcare since the age of one, at a cost of €460 per month despite this being her “free year”.

We would really like to buy as renting has become so precarious. We worry about being evicted again, particularly with our daughter starting school in September. The maximum we can afford in a mortgage is €320,000, which is significantly below the price of a three-bedroom house in Dublin. We don’t want to move out of Dublin as we would lose our social support network and the health services we depend on.

Anna Preis, Courtown, Co Wexford: ‘I could barely afford a one-bed in Finglas’

As a single buyer earlier this year, my budget was profoundly limited. I could barely afford a one-bed apartment in Finglas or Ballymun, or the property would have been in a terrible shape, leaving me with no reserve funds to restore it. I’m working in Dublin, but as a daily commuter from Bray in Co Wicklow, where I was a tenant, I started to look at the time of commuting instead of distance, to identify an area to house hunt. The journey with Dublin Bus during peak hours took about an hour and a half, so I searched for properties around Drogheda, Balbriggan and Kildare, as well as Arklow and Wicklow Town. Eventually, I settled in Courtown in Co Wexford.

I was fortunate to land a deal for a two-bedroom semi-detached bungalow with enclosed garden, for less than a one-bed apartment in Ballymun (comprising of a kitchen with no windows and a small bathroom). Despite the commute, which may not work for everyone, I’m pleased with my choice.

The difference between the rent in Bray and the cost of my mortgage is almost €1,200 per month, which sweetens the move two counties over. The commute is also much more pleasant; the coach is faster and more comfortable and reliable than Dublin Bus. I occasionally miss living closer to the city, but in hindsight, I prefer the calmness of the rural town and the security of an affordable mortgage.

Aisling Bruen, Dublin: ‘Not everyone gets parental handouts’

House prices may be affordable to those inheritees in line to catch a hefty leg-up from mammy and daddy on their passing. Unfortunately, life is not parental handouts for all. In my own situation, a care-leaver with estranged family ties, there is no safety net of a family home, no moving back with the relatives to get a deposit up. I cannot break from the trap that is the rental market due to circumstance of it being exactly that - a vortex. This Americanised rhetoric of “hard work will get you there” is utter nonsense, and just proof that Leo Varadkar is so far removed from reality of what is: many people are struggling.

Andrew Slattery, Dublin: ‘The mortgage I was offered was immoral’

We are well on the road to the next bubble bursting. We have a herd mentality and panic is setting in. I’ve been to banks looking for a new mortgage, and despite the supposed “new rules”, the amount being offered to me (despite already having negative equity on my apartment and two kids in crèche) is scandalously high and immoral. I have no idea how the banks are circumventing the rules again.

The media also need to stop hyping the market. I have visited several properties in good South Dublin addresses where the prices have been dropped in recent weeks. The media does not seem to be picking up on this. That said, the prices are still ridiculous when you objectively look at what you would be purchasing, and the quantum of your salary it represents.

Katie Delaney, Dublin: ‘I do not see us buying in Dublin any time soon’

My partner and I both have decently paid permanent jobs with promotion opportunities in the future. I do not see us buying in Dublin any time soon. When I look at what I can afford in my hometown of Newry (a one hour commute time away), the price and quality of housing in Dublin is disgraceful. I just cannot justify those prices, even if I could afford them. The Government needs to intervene and stop supporting their landlord friends, or workplaces need to introduce greater flexibility for people so they can live outside of Dublin and work from home. It has reached saturation point and cannot continue this way.

Lorcan Griffin, Cork City: ‘The ESRI are not accounting for renovation costs’

The argument that house prices in Ireland are currently unaffordable has been clearly established by the numerous reputable reports, data and investigations into the rental and sale of residential property in Ireland over the last two years. When making international comparisons, the ERSI are failing to take account of the significant renovation costs required to bring the large number of older homes up to standard after sale. In a housing market that has seen very limited new build and significant decreases in the vacancy rates over the last 10 years, as recorded in the 2016 Census, this is a crucial factor in demonstrating the true cost buying a residential property. Without building in these costs, these statistical comparisons are both irrelevant and misleading.

Jamie Murphy, Swords, Co Dublin: ‘€400,000 does not go far’

As a couple of very high earning engineers, the fact we have to rely on the help to buy scheme to even consider purchasing a house is insane. It’s even more insane that this purchase will be off plans, a semi-detached house in the furthest part of Swords from the city. €400,000 does not go far. Yet, we are the lucky ones? I swore we would never buy during a boom like generations before us. But it’s that or potentially swap rental houses every year. Effectively you can’t live a stable life if you rent.

John Madden, Athlone: ‘Our Taoiseach is out of touch’

Prices are increasing every day yet wages in rural Ireland could barely meet the requirements for a deposit. How is one supposed to save 10 per cent while paying exorbitant rents, car insurance, and fuel, heating and electricity costs? It cannot be done. Our Taoiseach is wholly out of touch.

Jack Baylor, Co Cork: ‘We plan to emigrate’

Considering the number of cash purchases occurring from foreign investment companies, including Wall Street vulture funds, and the rising numbers of homeless, it’s pretty apparent that Government measures are there to protect the existing landlords and foreign companies, and not the Irish people who they are supposed to represent.

Half of my generation has already emigrated, and once we’re married, myself and my fiancée will be following them. Despite higher housing costs abroad, higher wages and lower taxes will more than balance this out.

Cormac Duignan, Dublin 16: ‘Lift restrictions on height of buildings’

Irish house prices are affordable if people are prepared and able to sacrifice and save. Government needs to encourage companies to develop and create jobs outside the Dublin area. Dublin City Council’s planning department has prioritised suburban sprawl and car use. The Department of Housing should arrive in the 21st century and lift all restrictions on the heights of buildings within the canals (and outside them too). Apartment blocks could be eighty stories high like in other cities, allowing workers to live close to amenities and employment, and saving them the purgatorial morning pilgrimage from Kilcock.

Kieran Shortt, Dublin: ‘I have had to move back to my family home’

I wonder how the ESRI calculate their figures. It’s so difficult to find somewhere to share I have had to move back to my family home. Supply is very short for both renters and buyers, and this is being exploited. Perhaps they don’t factor in tax, USC and other living costs, or the concurrent lack of supply in social housing. In a wealthy country, everyone deserves a roof over their heads.

I don’t believe developers’ statements that apartments are so expensive to build; maybe they’re not so good at bargaining with their own suppliers? I think the Government is wholly responsible for their lack of regulation. In the 1960s my parents bought a three-bed semi-d close to Dundrum on a single civil servant’s salary. They also raised five children. That would be an impossible dream for me now.

JK, Galway: ‘Investors are easily identified at viewings’

I work in science and earn just under the industrial average wage. My partner looks after our kid and works part time for herself when work comes her way. Even with a mortgage of 3.5 times the average industrial wage, you will not buy anything in Galway. Exorbitant rents are attracting a huge amount of “investors”. They are easily identified at viewings, as the car they drive is worth more than the property. For the moment we rent a very small 25m2 apartment, and I guess we will be there for the foreseeable future.

Rachel King, Galway: ‘Agents were receiving larger bids over the phone’

I spent a few years looking in Galway for houses within reasonable distance of my child’s school, advertised for around €300,000. I found the estate agent process completely lacking in transparency. Agents were receiving larger bids over the phone. The price would jump to €150,000 more than the asking, for damp, mouldy, ugly houses in need of €100,000 at least to make liveable. There is no regulation. I gave up. But there’s no security in renting.

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