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Home buyer diaries: How Lisa, 30, bought in Dublin during a pandemic

Lisa Kitchen

Trying to buy a house right now is akin to putting each of your fingers into a blender and grinding them down to the bone. It’s self-torture; it hurts, and it’s largely pointless.

But that’s not to say that all hope is lost! This is why we’ve decided to highlight some good news stories.

All while gently peddling Mortgage Protection, because someone has to buy food for my kids.

First up, we talk to Lisa, a 30-year-old marketing manager. Is ‘Lisa’ a real name or an elaborate ruse? Hard to say. Either way, let’s dig in and pass the metaphorical microphone over to our aforementioned home buyer.

Lisa, the floor is yours. As are the walls and the roof and the kitchen tiles and any dodgy foundational damage.

Hopefully not the foundational damage. That’s BAD.

Structural survey anyone?

What did you buy?

I bought a three-bed terraced house in the leafy metropolis of Clondalkin. Truthfully, Clondalkin is a little further out than I had intended. I work for a tech company in Dublin city centre, and I wanted to be within easy commuting distance for when remote working ends. Unfortunately, every kilometre closer seemed to drive prices up by €10,000.

And prices are already WILD, so let’s not do anything to add to the cost.

My dream area was around Dublin 8. I’ve spent the last seven years renting around that neck of the woods, but the house-buying journey sent me further afield and I ended up settling in West Dublin.

Have you had to do much work with it?

Ha, no, because I’m very lazy.

The further away I get from a computer, the more my incompetence grows so I absolutely did not want to buy a fixer-upper.

To be honest, I tried painting one wall and it was crap. Like, really bad – kids in creche would do a better job keeping between the lines.

Instead, I was looking to find a house in very good condition. My house was built in the mid-‘80s and has been looked after well.

The original owners lived there for three decades before passing it over to family friends, who rented for a couple of years. I was lucky to inherit a fresh paint job, wooden floors, and only a few problems.

I’m also very lucky to have a handy dad, as he took the house on as a project. He painted, sorted out a built-in wardrobe and did all manners of small things I never even considered. All in, it was probably a weeks’ work.

The biggest upgrade was a new kitchen, thanks to a thoroughly rotted wooden worktop that had a leak that was warping all the shelving.

I had to get the professionals but I’m glad I did because it was so much messier than I thought it would be.

Prepare to clean up after professionals!

The new kitchen arrives bit by bit

How did you buy your home (parents/savings/lotto)?

Don’t worry: I’m not about to secretly reveal that my parents gave me a deposit.

They did not.

A lot of it was circumstance. I’ve lived and worked in Dublin for nine years, and rented in large house shares, which has kept rent down.

I’d been saving on and off for a couple of years and the pandemic really allowed me to double down on it.

Admittedly, my mortgage journey is quite atypical. I applied for approval in principle, was granted it two days later, and started messaging estate agents. Honestly, a couple of weeks in, it was looking pretty hopeless between a mix of being unable to view houses due to the restrictions and the Wwild West of over-bidding.

Everything was quickly jumping thousands out of my price range.

But then I saw an ad for a three-bed in Clondalkin that looked like it had a very solid skeleton. I half-heartedly messaged the estate agent to put in a bid and he called me to say the sellers had a specific number in mind. I’d happened to land on it.

From there, I went to see the house and it was all plain sailing.

Because there was no chain of sale and only one prior owner, I went from approval in principle to sale agreed in two weeks. Fast forward two months and everything was completely done and I was ready to move in.

To be honest, it all moved so fast, I was convinced I was going to find a horde of bodies buried under the patio.

Lisa's kitchen

My chill out space

Any advice for home buyers?

Honestly, I got very, very lucky. I happened to pick a property with nice homeowners who weren’t out to make as much money as possible.

I’m also lucky to have the job I do.

However, it’s not all luck. A certain amount of financial astuteness goes a long way. Do your research. Don’t get caught in desperate over-bidding. Use tools like the Property Price Register to gauge realistic property values and follow accounts like Crazy House Prices on Instagram and the First Time Buyer Group on Facebook.

Do lots of research into the process too, so that you know what’s happening and how much it’s all going to cost.

Oh, and alongside your deposit, budget for legal fees, stamp duty, and a surveyor. Also, be sure to have €10,000 in your back pocket for emergencies. It’ll go a long way if there is a problem. In my case, a crisis with my cat and a rotting worktop in the kitchen steamrolled through the last of my savings.

If you’re into interior design, I recommend an app like for planning out furniture dimensions and spacing, and using Photoshop to colour match. Though that might be the marketer in me!

And finally, make sure you have your Mortgage Protection good to go in plenty of time too.

I recommend Nick and, and not just because he asked me to talk to him for this article.

No really!

Lisa's Cat

Velvet sofas love cat hair!

Nick’s View

Thanks a mill Lisa, it’s great to hear that a straightforward purchase is possible.  Your story should give all of our readers hope!

As Lisa said, she was one of the lucky ones, with good savings and working for a tech company.

Mortgage protection was a breeze for Lisa as she had no health issues so we wrapped it up within days – a rarity.

Lisa has income protection and death in service through her employer (and pet insurance for her cat) so I was happy that she was fully covered should any bad stuff happen.

If you’re at the initial stage of your house buying journey and would like to get the insurance-y stuff sorted early, I’d love to help.

Simply complete this questionnaire and I’ll be right back.

Best of luck with everything



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