Ask any homeowner, and they’ll happily recite a list of quintessential criteria necessary to secure the perfect home. But as Cara and her fiancé Paul discovered, there’s so much more to a house hunt than price or bedroom count.
“Well, having a good cafe close by for one,” Cara laughs, “But, actually, we were surprised by what our preferences turned out to be. I never realised just how personal the search becomes. It was a process.”
That process began for the couple at the beginning of 2021. Having rented in Dublin city centre together for more than three years (first on Cork Street and then in Phibsborough), they began gathering information online about the market before receiving mortgage approval in March 2021. The couple found the MyHome.ie website and app the easiest to use, with handy features.
“It was a really exciting time,” Cara recalls. “That’s when we started to use the website and app seriously, entering our exact price range and focusing on specific locations.”
At the beginning of the hunt, Cara and Paul focused on Swords, Lusk and Rush, all popular commuter towns with lots of young couples and new builds. But once they began to view properties they had a realisation.
“Paul works in the city centre most days and I work in an office twice a week,” she says. “We both adore the theatre, going to gigs and socialising. We realised that these locations would be too remote for that lifestyle. Yes, those homes offered far better bang for our buck, but we would have to compromise on a lifestyle we love.
Being able to cycle and walk everywhere is important to me. We decided to change our location criteria and start again.”
Using the app allowed the couple to assess different areas based on city centre proximity and price, with Cabra and Crumlin coming up trumps. “We also decided to keep the price filter a little higher than our budget,” Cara shares, “It allowed us to compare house prices close by and see what was available in the greater area.”
Email alerts and notifications proved invaluable, allowing them to jump on any new arrivals to the market: “That’s one of my top tips for anyone on the home search; once you receive a notification, your best bet is to email and call - which is really easy to do thanks to all the info provided on the MyHome.ie app.”
The couple came close to buying a house in Cabra, but after commissioning a surveyor decided against it.
“It was gorgeous, and cheaper than the house we bought in the end, but it needed a lot of work. From dodgy electrics to boundary issues, we had a feeling it might be a headache. Again, that comes down to preference, as I know lots of people would love to undertake a big renovation project. Thankfully, our home appeared on the MyHome app a few weeks later, and here we are!”
After seven months of finessing their criteria, viewing properties and bidding on homes, the couple went sale agreed on a two-bed terraced house in Crumlin in October 2021. They received the keys in May 2022 - an extended timeline due to Covid-19 restrictions, but one which Cara says had its perks.
“Yes, it’s hard to juggle renting expenses while waiting to move in,” she admits, “The plus was that the previous owners upgraded many parts of the house during Covid-19, so when we finally moved in, there were new windows, and the garden was in good nick. It allowed us to get settled right away.”
As for what the couple wanted to tackle immediately when they moved into the house, Cara says it was a no-brainer. “The first thing we did was renovate the bathroom. As many renters will empathise, it’s often the most unloved room in a rented property, so we renovated the bathroom here straight away. It makes me so happy.”
When we chat, she’s standing in her kitchen admiring a recent paint job. “We’re getting there slowly but surely. The kitchen is relatively new, but not to my taste, so we’ve painted the walls, cabinets and splashback. It’s subtle but lovely.”
Cara and Paul had accumulated a few essentials over the years - a mattress, shelving units, toaster, kettle, coffee machine - but they’re working on a wish list for the rest of the property.
“A proper TV unit, armchair, and hopefully, down the line, we’ll be able to put an extension onto the back,” she explains. “That was another handy thing we found while using the app; when looking at other homes in the area, we noticed many had extended the porch and added on at the back, so we knew that would be an option in time.”
So, how are the former renters settling into a more permanent living situation? “We love it. We are right next to a park, so there are tons of greenery.” She even got her wish of a good coffee shop, “Park Life is our new local. Having a nice spot nearby is the best motivation to get out and about.”
As for any parting advice, Cara says it’s important to remain practical, especially when buying an older property. “Yes, an energy rating of A or B is everyone’s preference,” she says, “But we had to be realistic. Once we properly seal the fireplaces, the energy rating will improve, and we’ll continue to make energy upgrades in time.”
Could she describe their journey in a word? “A rollercoaster,” she laughs, “Buying a home is a big undertaking. Even once you begin to view properties, continue to refine your criteria, so you can search smart.” With useful features such as email alerts helping buyers to keep up to date, MyHome.ie helps achieve the dream.
“It’s a process, no matter how you decide to approach it, but once you take that leap and make a start, remember to keep an open mind, trust your gut and let the website do the hard work for you.”