Getting a first time buyer mortgage
4 MIN READ
Carolyn had never been in a bidding war for a home, never considered a new build instead and never applied for a first-time buyer mortgage. But, like many others, when she decided to swap renting for a home of her own she had to quickly learn a lot about buying a house.
Carolyn grew up in Tubbercurry but moved to Dublin to study nursing at Trinity College.
Then when she was back home from college one weekend, she met Sergio when she was out with friends in the town.
This was five years ago.
They have been together ever since.
Moving to London and back to Ireland
After she qualified as a nurse, she and Sergio left Ireland and moved to London where Carolyn got a job in Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital
‘It was challenging working there,’ she says. ‘Good and bad.’
But when a family member fell ill at home, Carolyn moved back to help.
‘I was a nurse,’ she says. ‘I couldn’t really sit in London when I could be used better in Ireland.’
She stayed at home with the family member for two months and then went back to Dublin where she worked at Crumlin Hospital.
Carolyn and Sergio rented an apartment in Maynooth because it was handy for Sergio who travels all over Ireland with his job and it was on the right side of Dublin for Carolyn.
‘I was leaving at quarter past six in the morning,’ Carolyn says, ‘or working nights or weekends so there was not really any traffic at that time.’
The big snow
In March 2018, Carolyn was trapped in Crumlin Hospital when Storm Emma (coincidentally, named by the Portuguese Met Office) hit Ireland and the snow came down.
She’d gone into work on the Wednesday but couldn’t get out until Saturday morning when she was due to fly to New York with Sergio who had to travel from Sligo to the airport
Despite getting stuck a few times, they both managed to catch the flight.
Which was handy as, unbeknownst to her, Sergio had bought a ring and was planning to propose in New York.
A proposal at the Empire State Building
‘We were in a mad rush to meet up with Irish friends of mine who lived in New York and somehow found ourselves right beside the Empire State Building.
And Sergio said, casually, ‘oh, it’s open till 2am. It’d be nice to see the city from it at night.’
So Carolyn went along with his seemingly innocent suggestion.
‘I don’t think he had a definite plan to propose there,’ she confides. ‘I think he improvised.’
Bidding for a home as a first time buyer
Back in Maynooth, with a wedding now somewhere on the horizon, the couple began to plan their future and Carolyn started to look at houses ‘just to get a feel for things’.
But when they found a place they liked, as a first-time buyer she found the bidding process tough.
‘You put in a bid and then someone else puts in a bid.
And, at that point, you’ve already everything planned in your head thinking that you’re going to get this house and how you’re going to change it.
And then, you get outbid,’ she says.
To cope with the prospect of losing the bidding war, she says she started putting a negative spin on things so that she could say, ‘well, I didn’t really want that house anyway!’
Help-to-buy and first-time buyers
With the help-to-buy scheme in mind, Carolyn and Sergio decided it would be sensible, as they were first-time buyers, to go with a new home which would qualify for the incentive (details of the Help To Buy incentive are here)
‘I started looking at new builds which were quite expensive,’ Carolyn says. ‘But it was much easier because you just picked the house and then it’s yours, once you pay a deposit.’
In other words, no bidding wars.
They settled on a new home in Cellbridge because ‘it’s got access to all the motorways and it’s an hour from most places’.
Meeting the mobile mortgage specialist
Carolyn and Sergio first went with another mortgage provider but in the end they were not offered a first time buyer mortgage.
(Read Niamh and Richard’s story about getting a mortgage in a week)
So, as Carolyn was already with Bank of Ireland, she popped into the Maynooth branch and found them helpful.
She also found the mobile mortgage specialist, Lisa, very supportive.
Mobile mortgage specialists come out to meet homebuyers at a time and location that fits around their busy lives then help them through the process.
‘She was very realistic, very matter of fact, but hopeful as well,’ she says.
They got their first-time buyer mortgage from Bank of Ireland.
The day they moved into their new home
The couple moved into their new home in early summer.
Carolyn remembers that there were loads of things to coordinate.
For instance, they wanted to move out of the apartment they were renting at the right time so that they didn’t have to pay another month of rent at the same time as paying their first mortgage repayment.
‘So I was speaking to the builders: ‘when will I get the keys?’ And the solicitor about completing.’
As well as juggling all this, Carolyn had exams and assignments due the week they moved in (she is studying to become a surveyor).
‘The first morning in our new home, I got up and I went to an exam!’
‘I ended up getting eighty-something percent so maybe all the stress was good for me,’ she says.
How it feels to own her first home
‘It feels like you’re kind of on holidays for a while when you first move in,’ she says.
‘You know if you ever go to a nice house on holidays and think ‘oh, I wish this was my house?’ That’s how it feels for a while.’
And then, she says, you start to notice things that want doing.
But underneath it all, Carolyn says, there’s the realisation that, ‘I own these bricks and that’s kind of nice.’
The cashback was a lovely surprise
Carolyn says she was so concerned with getting the mortgage approved that that she had almost forgotten that she would be getting it.
‘I didn’t really think that much about the cashback at the time but, subsequently, it was a lovely surprise.’
‘One day I woke up and it appeared in my account,’ she says.
‘It’s nice for a few minutes to be like, ‘ahhh!’ she laughs.
Find out more
You can find out more about a Bank of Ireland mortgage here.
If you are saving to build up a deposit for a home you might be interested in our Mortgagesaver regular saving account.