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Housing Special: The challenges of buying a house in Waterford

Housing Special: The challenges of buying a house in Waterford Housing Special: The challenges of buying a house in Waterford
Julie Smyth

The rising cost of housing has been well documented over the past year in a range of housing reports from a range of agencies and housing websites.

The latest Daft.ie report published on September 27th found that year on year house prices in Waterford rose by 17.5%.

It put the average price of a home in the county at €270,171 and the city at €204, 759.

Prices have risen due to a lack of supply and rising demand, especially now that working from home has facilitated a return to the Deise for many.

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The government's 12 billion a year Housing For All plan promises to address the housing crisis with plans to deliver 33,000 new homes by 2025.

But what does it all mean for the average home buyer in Waterford right now?

Rebuilding Ireland

Clayton Linde and his partner have just gone sale agreed on a home, an experience he described to WLR News as "an adventure" and not a fun one.

"It was very hard for us to get mortgage. First off, we have three children. So straight off the bat, when you go to the banks, they kind of looked down upon that. One of our children has special needs, so she (his partner).. is not working at the moment to attend to his needs in terms of health. So it was hard."

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Clayton, who works full time, successfully applied to Waterford Council for a Rebuilding Ireland home loan, a Government initiative to try get low earners onto the property ladder. Applicants can borrow up to 90% of the market value of a property, at low interest rates. It's administered by local authorities, but there are price limits. It's €320,000 in Cork, Dublin, Galway and the commuter belt counties of Kildare, Louth, Meath and Wicklow, and €250,000 in Waterford and the rest of the country. To qualify applicants must have been refused a mortgage from 2 traditional lenders.

Grateful to have a mortgage sourced, Clayton and his partner began looking, but he says, with today's pricing, it's very hard. New builds are now starting at over that and he says there is nothing in a turnkey condition for less than 250 thousand euro.

New developments

John Rohan of Sherry Fitzgerald is the agent for a number of large scale new developments in Waterford, they have a new development coming on stream in the next couple of weeks called Ormond on the Six Cross Roads:

"There are three-bed semi's, and we have 72/73 houses going there, A rated houses, and they will be starting at 285,000. And there'll be government grants on top of that. So, you know, your first-time buyer can get on the market for under 300,000 for a new A rated house."

John says the first phase sold from plans, this is the second phase and there will be a showhome to view. He fully expects them to sell quickly, and says it should ease some of the demand locally.

However, he acknowledges the prices have risen from 230-240 thousand euro in the first phase.

First-time buyers

Kelly Higgins and David Jackman are the traditional first time buyers, they are working full-time, engaged to be married next year and have been living first with David's parents and now with Kelly's as they save a deposit and search for their first home. They have been taken aback by how challenging it has been to secure their dream:

"The first house that we really liked, we put a bid in that was in and around the asking price, got a call five days later that a cash buyer came in 30k over asking. Constantly as well, new houses would come on the market, we'd only take a look, we might be there in the first day. And the first bid that's after coming in is the asking price... And then just the greed of cash investors not necessarily just cash buyers."

Clayton too says his experience was of bidding wars on everything:

"We looked at a house that was listed at 232. By the time we got there, there were four bidders on it, and it was up to 248 or something. And so we put a bid in and kind of straight away we were told, you know, we've been outbid."

While it's been a tough search for both sets of first time buyers, both Clayton and his family and Kelly and David are now sale agreed and hoping to close and have their new homes early in the new year.

Tramore

The desire for people to live by the sea since the pandemic has been well documented, that and working from home has seen an explosion of interest in Tramore in the past 18 months.

Local estate agent Barry Herterich, a Director with Property Partners, says he first noticed it after the lockdown ended. Three holiday homes which had been on the market for around 80 thousand had been on the market since Autumn 2019 without much interest.

"Within a couple of weeks of lockdown lifting, they were gone, and we had multiple bidders on them. And that was the first indication I think of people looking to try and move to the coast."

Initially the interest seemed to be in second homes, but now he says it's mostly people who want to live in Tramore. He estimates the demand has pushed house prices up around 20% since before the pandemic and it's having an unfortunate knock-on effect:

"Most of the people now buying second homes are actually using them for themselves, not necessarily to rent out and unfortunately, like we manage properties in Tramore and we've probably had to give notice in the last six months, to probably six to eight people because the owners are selling because they don't want to be landlords anymore. And they feel like this is a good time to sell to make the most of what they've got. And the problem for those people is where do they go?"

The Market

John Rohan reports the same trend:
"We're also finding that the investor doesn't really want to get involved in renting property anymore. It's just too problematic for them...We're finding landlords are getting out of the investment and getting out of the rented house market completely. They're finding it too troublesome."

This is having a desperate effect on tenants, and adding to the rising sense of panic in the housing market, as many tenants who may be in a position to buy do not have the luxury of waiting for a time that suits them.

Both John Rohan and Barry Herterich say the market needs government intervention. John says there needs to be incentives for the investor to keep them in the rental market, while Barry says the cost of building needs to be addressed. He also points to the issues developers in Tramore have had with Irish Water connections as something that needs to be solved.

In the meantime, there is a pipeline of new houses coming on stream in both Tramore and Waterford city and John says there is interest from developers from outside the county, such as Glenveigh, who now see Waterford as a good place to invest.

 

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