It cost too much, it might not last us for­ever, but it’s ours

The Irish Times - Thursday - Property - - Property The Market -

Af­ter 18 months, about 100 view­ings, count­less bids and some dev­as­tat­ing dis­ap­point­ments, we (whis­per it) got a house.

For four weeks since the phone call from the agent to tell us our very last bid had been ac­cepted, I’ve been try­ing to hold my tongue, not tell too many peo­ple, afraid to jinx it. But with all the pa­per­work signed ear­lier this week, full de­posit paid and a clos­ing date set, I fi­nally feel I can shout it from the rooftops. We got a house! At the be­gin­ning of this long jour­ney towards buy­ing our first home to­gether, my part­ner and I en­vis­aged red­bricks, three bed­rooms, a gar­den and walk­ing dis­tance to the city cen­tre. A for­ever home. Ut­ter no­tions, we re­alise now. We got so close with two houses that ticked al­most all the boxes, but were out­bid by a small sum each time. As the months went by, prop­er­ties once within our reach slipped away as prices marched steadily higher.

We could no longer af­ford a “fam­ily” home in the ar­eas we wanted to live. We would have to go small, or go much fur­ther out. It took a long time for that re­al­ity to set­tle, with me in par­tic­u­lar, but we fi­nally de­cided that for now, area took prece­dence. We could al­ways move in the fu­ture if space be­came a pri­or­ity.

The ad ap­peared in mid-Fe­bru­ary. If we had stuck a pin in the mid­dle of our ideal area, it would prob­a­bly have gone right through this house on the map. It was small, yes, but un­like most other houses in the streets around, this one had a gar­den, and a south-fac­ing one at that.

Within bud­get

Walk­ing around at the first view­ing, it didn’t make my heart sing with ex­cite­ment in the same way some oth­ers have. But the tummy but­ter­flies were def­i­nitely there. It felt right. It made sense. The ask­ing price was well within bud­get. We could fea­si­bly get this one.

There was one bid in sig­nif­i­cantly be­low the ask­ing, so we started strong with an of­fer ¤10,000 above. Then we waited. And waited. For 11 days we were the highest bid­der, and it looked likely the oth­ers would pull out. We tried to re­main calm. We had been burned be­fore – once par­tic­u­larly badly – by be­com­ing too at­tached to a house mid­way through the bid­ding process.

A third bid­der en­tered the fray, which seemed to en­cour­age the first back in. Up the of­fers went, by ¤5,000 each time, which was new for us. We thought we’d scare our con­tenders off with big bids, but they had sim­i­lar tac­tics.

The price had gone way over the max­i­mum sum we had in mind. But the thoughts of hav­ing to start again from scratch, hav­ing to go through this hor­rid bid­ding process all over again, po­ten­tially hav­ing to pay even more for a sim­i­lar house in a few months’ time or, worse still, be­ing priced out of the area en­tirely, spurred us on. The other bid­ders were clearly just as des­per­ate.

The agent called to say the owner, sat­is­fied with how high the price had gone (I’m sure they were), wanted the sale agreed soon and had de­cided to ac­cept the best of­fer in a sealed en­ve­lope process. We had two days.

It was the most nerve-wrack­ing 48 hours of my life. Choos­ing a fig­ure was fairly straight­for­ward, as we couldn’t af­ford much more than the last bid. We went for an ob­scure and un­even sum, just in case the added ¤65 would clinch it for us in the end.

‘‘ I talked about red bricks ... a for­ever home. Ut­ter no­tions, we re­alise now

Soon af­ter send­ing the email (“sealed en­ve­lope bids” these days are done on­line), the agent called. He couldn’t tell us by how much, but our bid was the highest. It was a sur­real mo­ment, stand­ing in the mid­dle of Grafton Street, bab­bling in­co­her­ent words of thanks to an es­tate agent through my tears. I couldn’t believe we had fi­nally got there.

Af­ter pay­ing the book­ing de­posit at the bank on my lunch break the next day, I was into M&S to buy a sand­wich when a sales assistant ap­proached with a tray full of tiny plas­tic glasses of Cham­pagne. A drink never tasted so sweet.

I’ve walked and cy­cled by the house count­less times since, or parked the car within view so I can sit and stare at our hard-won prize. I love the quiet street and its di­verse in­hab­i­tants, the kids play­ing in the square on the cor­ner and sur­rounded by cherry blos­som trees.

And, of course, the house it­self, with its lit­tle front gar­den and the line of red bricks (I cher­ish ev­ery sin­gle one) split through the peb­bledash on the fa­cade.

It’s dif­fer­ent to the house we dreamed of. We prob­a­bly spent way too much on it. It might not last us for­ever.

But it’s per­fect. And in three weeks, it will be our home.

It’s dif­fer­ent to the house we dreamed of. But in three weeks, it will be our home

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