Advice for first-time buyers

Owen would always advise that step one is to first speak to your bank or a mortgage broker to get an insight into exactly what is involved in making a mortgage application.  The benefit of using a mortgage broker is that they can shop around for you and will get you the best mortgage deal.

Most importantly, your budget will dictate the property and location you can buy in. Having mortgage approval in place will also put you in a position to bid on a property should you find the perfect one. The estate agent and seller will not consider a bid from you if you do not have mortgage approval in place. It can even be difficult to arrange a viewing without mortgage approval now that agents have to reduce any unnecessary viewings. When deciding on the right property and location for you Owen would always recommend thinking long term. You might think you will only be there for a few years but what is that changes?

You need to consider whether the property is suitable for your lifestyle today and in the future? How close is it to where you work, socialise and to your family and friends? Will there be demand from buyers for it in the future when you sell? It is close to good schools? Does the property require work? These are all very important questions to ask yourself as part of the process.

Make sure to get accurate quotes on any work that might be required. The BER rating can give a good indication of this. Will you have the time to manage a renovation project? If you do there are grants available if making your property greener.

If you are buying a house, you should ask what the property title is, what the neighbours are like (investigate this further) and are there any other developments happening in the area that could impact on the future value of the property.

If you are buying an apartment, ask about the management company and the sinking fund. You will become a member of the management company if you buy. Also, important to check is has the development carried out a fire audit recently?

When it comes to deciding on the value and the amount to offer be sure to research selling prices, not asking prices. Agents and the Property Price Register can be a good source of data on this.

All offers should be made in writing and the bidding process is regulated by the Property Services Regulator to protect the interests of all stakeholders.

Asking prices are a combination of what the seller wants and what the agents thinks. It should be underpinned by sales of similar properties but not always. It would be beneficial to calculate the average price per sq. ft. in the different neighbourhoods you are looking to buy in. There should a particular reason as to why the asking price is above that average, which could be a view, size of garden or condition of property.

Owen emphasises that for every property selling above the asking price, there is another selling below so do your research. During a viewing ask the agent how long the property is on the market, what price is vendor is hoping for and when they are looking to move.

Remember, the agent acts exclusively for the vendor but they are also a good source of information on the property, seller, neighbourhood, sales data in the area and what the trends are like.

Since coming out of the first lockdown in June Owen Reilly immediately saw strong activity and pent-up demand with really motivated buyers. This strong activity continued right up to September. People are however looking at properties in very different ways such as the ability to work from home and access to parks and outside space.

September is a month where a lot more property will come on the market so buyers ultimately will have more choice. This was evident in our agency with a really busy September and October, but given the huge uncertainty we are continuing to see less demand from investors. This however means first-time buyers will have less competition.