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'The process takes time, so try to relax': 5 recent first-time buyers share their big learnings

Five people who purchased their first home in 2021 pass on some advice.

shutterstock_1719751303 Source: Shutterstock/Fusionstudio

Updated Nov 24 at 1.30pm

YOUR FIRST HOME is one of the most significant purchases you’ll ever make. But the process is one that can be difficult to prepare for. No matter how organised you are, or how much research you’ve done on the stages involved, it’s hard to get a handle on what the experience will really feel like.

Speaking to other first-time buyers who are a few steps ahead of you is one smart way to get a sense of what to expect on the saving, house hunting and moving journey.

With that in mind, we asked five recent buyers – all of whom got the keys to their home during 2021 – to share their take. They passed on some of their biggest home-buying learnings, and the advice they’d give to others in the same situation…

1. Be proactive about saving, especially if you’re a solo buyer

Trish O’Keeffe started house-hunting in August 2020 and moved into her three-bed terraced house in Portlaoise in February 2021.

I’m very proud that I was able to buy a home by myself in the middle of a pandemic, but I do wish that I had started the saving process when I was younger. I’m 41 and started saving around seven years ago.

Being a solo buyer with rent and bills to pay meant I had a long road to getting my deposit together, although the events of the pandemic did help my savings ability significantly (I suddenly wasn’t going out, was working from home, and moved back with my parents for seven months).

I’ve always been good with money and had no debt or loans, which helped. I’d advise any other solo buyers to commit to saving regularly, even if it’s just a small amount. Some months I couldn’t save anything, but I’d always be sure to put something aside the following month.

2. Getting the keys takes time, so prepare yourself for a wait

Nicole O’Connor and her partner moved into their second-hand two-bed bungalow in October 2021.

We got our final mortgage approval in April of this year, and went Sale Agreed a month later. We then had a five-month wait before moving in. The best advice I could give anyone is to be prepared for that long wait, and be prepared for it to be a bit stressful. I wasn’t really prepared for such a wait and I found it hard to relax.

One of our big delays was down to life insurance. I have two medical conditions, and I was rejected cover at first. I had to go for a series of medical checks which added time too. If you’re in the same boat, start that process early so you can be on top of it.

nicole Nicole's new home in Tallaght, Dublin 24. Source: Nicole O'Connor

3. Have your gas and electricity set up before moving day (unless you like cold showers)

Andrew Kinsella moved into his second-hand two-bed Dublin apartment in October 2021.

Buying during a pandemic was challenging, with limitations on house viewings, high prices and a lack of supply. I had to make some compromises and found it impossible to tick every box but eventually went Sale Agreed in June 2021.

One thing I learned the hard way was that, with a second-hand home, things like gas and electricity won’t necessarily be up and running for you when you move in. In my case, the gas had been disconnected while the house was vacant and it took three weeks to get it sorted.

October was fairly mild, so having no heating was bearable – but the lack of hot water definitely wasn’t ideal. Luckily I was able to visit my parents and friends for showers until I got sorted…

4. Don’t be afraid to nudge solicitors and estate agents along

Róisín Fleming and her partner Eoin moved into their 1970s three-bed semi-detached home in October 2021.

We were house-hunting at a time when in-person viewings weren’t permitted, with buyers panic bidding just for the opportunity to go Sale Agreed and view a house in person. We eventually went Sale Agreed on our place in June 2021 and got the keys 12 weeks later – a very smooth journey in comparison to other stories you hear.

But matter how straightforward the sale is, there will more than likely be one or two hold-ups along the way, be it delayed responses from estate agents and solicitors, or last-minute requests from the bank for outstanding documents holding up drawdown. I definitely learned to be proactive and keep on top of everything at every stage. Don’t be afraid to give people a nudge if you think something should be taking less time than it is.

Roisin Róisín and Eoin outside their new home. Source: Róisín Fleming

5. Treat the process as a learning curve – and ask for help if you need it

Orlagh Ryan went Sale Agreed on a two-bed terraced house in Crumlin, Dublin 12 in April 2021 and got the keys in November 2021.

I started thinking seriously about buying a home six years ago. The pandemic knocked me off course by about a year, along with some other curveballs along the way, but I’m delighted to say I’ll be moving into my new place at the start of January.

Closing the sale was an extremely stressful process – really, nothing could have prepared me for it, no matter how organised I was. I really had to lean into the fact that buying my first property was a learning curve, and I’d advise other first timers to have the same attitude. You simply won’t know everything, so don’t be afraid to ask questions, seek advice from family, friends and get a good broker/mortgage advisor and solicitor to guide you through the process.

At Glenveagh Homes, our vision is that everyone should have the opportunity to access great-value, high-quality homes in flourishing communities across Ireland. We understand that buying a home is possibly the biggest decision you will ever make in your life – but we want to make it your easiest. Click here to find out more about Glenveagh developments.  

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Glenveagh Homes

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