Liz O'Kane of Buyers Bootcamp on why apartments are often the best choice
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We've enlisted the experts from Buyers Bootcamp, Virgin Media's new TV show, to help you find the right home.
Most first-time buyers in Dublin want exactly the same thing – a three-bed semi with a garden and most of them have about €300,000 to spend. The reality is, there are only so many of these to go around. Budgets are lower outside of Dublin but buyers are up against the same problem of supply not meeting demand.
Based on what Liz told us, here's what you should keep in mind when choosing between a house and an apartment:
Livin’ the dream in a three-bed semi
A three-bed semi offers more space than an apartment, which is a priority for people who want to start a family. It’s hard to resist the lure of a back garden, with ample room for kids and pets and the promise of sitting in the sun with a chilled drink on a sunny Friday evening. If the house has potential to extend, there’s also the added attraction of being able to move in and add to it bit by bit over time, as your family (and, hopefully, your bank balance) grows.
Competition for these types of properties is understandably fierce so it’s well worth considering other options. Buying an apartment might not be your first choice, but there are many benefits to apartment living.
Get closer to the action
If you can’t afford a house in your dream location, opting for an apartment as your starter home might be the next best thing. You get to live where you want and in the early years, between work and your hectic social life, you may well be out more than you’re in.
Cosy up to the neighbours and save money
Most new apartments are A-rated and well insulated, so your utility bills will be much cheaper. The apartments around you will help keep yours nice and toasty, which is a nice bonus. You’ll usually have to pay an annual management fee but this includes things like maintenance, cleaning, grass cutting and your bin collection so it’s not bad value, all things considered.
Less is more
Having less space can be challenging but it does force you to live a less cluttered life, which is no bad thing – you’ll spend less time hunting for your keys if there’s only one place to put them. Less floor space means less floor to Hoover so there’s another bonus! With a little planning you can really maximise the space and make it work for you.
Lower your expectations and get in on the ground floor
For some strange reason Irish people are about as resistant to ground floor apartments as vampires are to garlic and many buyers won’t even consider one but this could actually be quite a smart buy. Not only are ground floor apartments cheaper, they often offer other advantages, like bigger balconies, more outdoor space, direct access to the garden and more light. Think about it – most of us grew up living mostly on the ground floor in our two-storey family homes or even (God forbid!) completely on the ground floor if we lived in a bungalow, and we turned out OK!
Think like an investor
Buying your first home is a huge financial commitment and such a life-changing step that it’s easy to get emotional about it but this emotion can cloud your judgement. Being realistic, your first home is unlikely to be your “forever home” so if you can keep your business hat on and see it as an investment, rather than somewhere you’ll be living for the rest of your life, you’ll be doing yourself a big favour.
Consider the rental potential
An apartment, especially one close to the city centre, is generally a good investment. Markets may go up or down and hopefully you’ll be able to sell for a profit when you need to, but it will always be rentable if you decide to move on and can afford to keep it long-term as an investment.
The only thing constant in life is change and only time will tell what type of home is the best one to opt for as your first home, but if you can consider how your circumstances, needs and priorities might change in the future, it will really help you make the best decision right now. Good luck!
Buyers Bootcamp is now streaming on Virgin Media Player, click here to watch.
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