As a property buyers broker, I work solely with buyers. Over the past two years, my client-base has been overwhelmingly in the first-time buyers market and I am, admittedly, staunch in my “tough love” approach to buyers’ searches. Earlier this week, however, I found myself affected by the angry and emotional story of an apartment-owner profiled in the Irish Times on Thursday. In fact, I have read about this lady’s plight several times in the last year, I have also read the scathing attacks unfairly levelled against her on property forums on-line.

I can hear the frustration in the words and on a human level, that anguish must be unbearable. Ms. O’Riordan is to be commended on bravely allowing her story to be published; but I wonder how representative this story is? On a professional level, I absolutely ask the question, how was this still happening in 2008? €295,000 paid to the developer for extras … Surely, this lady has become the poster child of what NOT to do when buying property?

As is entirely appropriate for my profession, I tend to deal with the practical and financial side of the purchase and encourage buyers to stall the emotional issue of connecting to a property until the deal “stacks up on paper”. In my experience, this is the only way to ensure value in an uncertain market.

Buying your first home is an emotional experience; however, you are borrowing money from the bank, upon which you pay a hefty interest rate, which will only be going in one direction for the foreseeable future. As such you are investing the money in property, albeit to live in yourself. Whether you like it or not, you are now an investor in the Irish property market. The rules of property investing are entirely different to choosing a desirable nest, as with renting.

There should be no talk of interiors, Scandinavian furniture, white good or extras until such time as core value (site and building) has been objectively determined and achieved. This might seem like an android approach to buying your first home but it ensures that the value aspect has been taken care of so you, as the home buyer can then concentrate on turning the property into your home.

The team at Buyers Brokers have never, even in the so-called “good times”, promoted apartments over houses to buyers in the Irish market. There are many historical, cultural, lifestyle, practical and financial reasons for this and not all are linked with the property crash. In fact, even today, we tell buyers in the market for an apartment (and there are very few) to wait and watch the market over the next 12 – 18 months.

In 2010 and going forward, buyers will need to take responsibility for their purchase. There is greater access to information (although we are still lacking the long awaited National Property Price Register) and independent, professional advice for those who are willing to undertake the research and prepare well. In the future, the buyers of this forthcoming cycle will not be able to blame bankers, estate agents or the government for their poor purchasing, as is happening now.

Our top tip for buyers? Simply, prepare well, know your local market, do not rush into a purchase until the time is right for you but be ready to move when it is. Most importantly, learn to recognise an opportunity when it arises, hindsight is far too expensive.

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