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First-time buyer events to take place in Cork and Dublin this April

Ulster Bank is inviting prospective first-time buyers to two free informational events packed with hints and tips about finding both the right home and the right mortgage

The events take place in Dublin (April 4th) and Cork (April 25th), with a panel of experts on hand at each to provide advice that will help buyers find the home that's right for them at a price they can afford.

The first takes place in Dublin's Davenport Hotel on Thursday, April 4th, where quantity surveyor Peter Crowley, architect and judge on Home of the Year will outline what to look for in a new home, and what to avoid.

Patricia Power specialises in residential properties, including new builds, extensions and refurbishments. Knowing a little can save a lot, she says. “It’s amazing to me that even my own friends will look at me blankly when they buy a house and I ask them what kind of heating system it has,” says Power.

To attend the Dublin first-time buyer's event, register here
Tickets for the Cork event will be available from Friday, April 12th.

The wrong kind will cost you money. “I understand it really because you’re buying with your heart and you want a home, so you forget the practicalities. But it’s only when you move in that you have to deal with the consequences. A house is the biggest spend of your life, so make yourself familiar with how it’s built and how it’s heated.”

Looking pretty is not enough

“You’ve got to see past the decor to what it will cost you, post purchase, once you move in. You’ll likely have spent every last penny you have on the deposit, so you really don’t need an unforeseen surprise.”

Be aware of the practicalities of large structural issues because you'll need deep pockets to overcome them

Heating is one of the most expensive elements and the typical lifespan of a boiler is 10 years. If the one you are looking at is coming to the end of its life, you'll need to budget for a replacement. "If you're looking at a house that is 30 years old, ask how old the boiler is," she says.

Check the hot-press. "Look for a factory lagging jacket. It’s much more efficient than a loose one from a hardware shop."

Next, look at the windows. Triple glazing is the current gold standard. Double glazing you'll get away with. But single glazing will cost you in heat loss. If you're going to have to upgrade them, you need to know before you buy. "It can cost anything from €10,000 to €30,000 to replace the windows," she says.

Examine the wiring. "If the sockets are at skirting board level and, with single plugs here and there, it's going to need rewiring. Equally, if the fuse board has old screw in type fuses, it's going to need upgrading."

Check where the ESB metre is. If it’s an old house it might be indoors. Doing any work to the house will mean paying the ESB to come and move it for you, plus the knock-on cost of painting and plastering.

Very many first-time buyers opt for new homes, and understandably, she says, because they are typically triple A-rated for energy and super warm.

“I started out with a brand new house myself, and I’m glad I did. It’s nice to know that you don’t have to pay out for anything other than maybe appliances and fireplaces.  I remember having to sleep on a mattress on the floor because I couldn’t even afford a bed.  But my second house was an existing house specifically, because I wanted to do some work on it,” she says.

Patricia Power's reference to not being able to afford a bed after her first house purchase will resonate with many first-time buyers, says Kevin Byrne, the bank's mobile mortgage manager. "It's why we launched our Ulster Bank First Five Mortgage, which has five great benefits for first-time buyers."

Insulation

Serious house hunters will take a peek in the attic too, Power continues. "Some 40 per cent of heat loss is through the roof. Around 90 per cent of existing houses have 100mm of loft insulation. Today the standard is 400mm."

This is easy to remedy. “Just buy some insulation roll bags in a hardware store and lay it out in the opposite direction to the existing insulation. Just make sure to leave the eaves free so that the roof is vented, otherwise it will sweat.”

Another 40 per cent of heat is lost through walls, with internal, external and cavity insulation the remedial options. “The handy thing about external insulation is that you can get one company to come in and do the entire job so that it looks like new, but that’s the time to change the windows too,” she says. “Check out insulation grants available from the SEAI.”

Don't buy without getting a structural report from an engineer or building surveyor. "It's a very important report which will give you a feel for the condition of the building. Everything is fixable once the structure is solid, but only once the structure is solid," says Power.

“If it’s pyrite or subsidence, or large issues such as the roof, I’d say walk away. Be realistic, even if your heart is in it. Be aware of the practicalities of large structural issues because you’ll need deep pockets to overcome them.”

Other speakers at the first-time buyers event include Angela Keegan, managing director of MyHome.ie. Keegan will provide insights into the property market of particular interest to first-time buyers.

Architect and judge on RTE's Home of the Year Hugh Wallace, will be MC at both the Dublin and Cork events - the Cork event takes place in The River Lee Hotel on Thursday, April 25th.

When it comes to crunching numbers, Ulster Bank's mortgage team will also be on hand to answer mortgage-related questions.

“We will be available to meet with anyone who would like to talk to us, and can run through the whole process from A to Z. For us it’s all about demystifying a subject that can sometimes seem a little daunting,” Kevin Byrne explains.

“We’ll be able to explain the features of today’s mortgage products. Our aim is to take the mystique out of mortgages for first-time buyers - and indeed any buyers - and to answer any questions at all that they may have.”

The Dublin event takes place on Thursday, April 4th in The Gandon North Suite of The Davenport Hotel at 6.30pm.

Speakers on the night will be: 

  • MC: Hugh Wallace
  • Peter Crowley, architect and judge on Home of the Year
  • Angela Keegan, Myhome.ie
  • Brian Durnan, Ulster Bank Area Manager

To attend the Dublin first-time buyer's event, register your interest here 

The Cork event takes place on Thursday, April 25th in The Mirror Room of The River Lee Hotel at 6.30pm.

Speakers on the night will be: 

  • Hugh Wallace (MC)
  • Peter Crowley, architect and judge on Home of the Year
  • Angela Keegan, Myhome.ie
  • Wayne Kirby, Ulster Bank Area Manager
Tickets for the Cork event will be available from Friday, April 12th.
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