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Tips, tricks and advice for starting your mortgage journey in 2021

By Brian Dillon

January 21, 2021 at 11:47am

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Becoming a first-time buyer is no easy task. If you're thinking about buying a property in 2021, then you probably have many, many questions. And that's good! It's important to ask questions, get all the info you need and be as prepared as you can for the process ahead. So, we've decided to come up with a handy first-time buyer checklist for you guys.

Since 2018, we have teamed up with AIB to help first-time buyers on their journey to becoming homeowners. With informative brunch clubs and summits as well as area guides and tips from the experts, we have been committed to providing you with the most useful information and advice.

With that in mind, here's a handy first-time buyer checklist for 2021!

House hunting, location and bidding process

It's important to keep an open mind while also thinking about what you want around you. Estate agent Owen Reilly says, "Where you buy depends on your budget. Some of the hotspots right now where you can get great value for money would be areas like Irishtown in Ringsend, East Wall, Fairview, Marino, Cabra and Phibsboro. There are pockets of the north inner city that I think are undervalued. We're also seeing a lot of first-time buyer activity in areas like Dublin 8."

Quantity Surveyor Lisa O'Brien adds, "A lot of first-time buyers actually can't locate and buy where they grew up, they might be going into new areas. Looking online is great because it gives a thread of information from people who are actually living there."

Property survey, BER

Getting a property surveyed is one of the most important steps in the process. Structural problems aren't always visible, and a survey can help identify them along with any factors that may incur extra spending on behalf of the buyer. Quantity surveyor Lisa O'Brien says:

"If you're buying an existing house which does need major renovations, you're initial budget goes into the fabric of that building to bring up the energy rating. You can phase those works over a number of years and spread those costs."

People buying higher energy rated homes can get a specific green mortgage rate (lower rate of interest). If you tell your mortgage advisor you are buying a higher energy rated home, they can talk to you about the Green Mortgage rates.

Speak to an advisor, Approval in Principle

You might think that you need to have absolutely everything together before you even walk into the bank, but Orla Gleeson, Head of Homes for AIB Dublin West, explains that it's good to meet with the bank very early on:

"Chatting to someone earlier on the mortgage journey is the absolute best thing. I get to talk them through, give them the advice, hints and tips for them to be ready in the six-month time frame they're aiming for. I think it's so good to meet with the bank early. We meet a lot of people who realise they're doing better than they thought."

Once you have your deposit in place you can start viewing properties. However, it’s a good idea to get an Approval in Principle. Your bank will review your proof of income, evidence of repayment and your deposit and let you know how much you can borrow. Although it's not a legally binding agreement, it gives you an idea of your budget and estate agents will be happy proceeding with you knowing you have this in place. AIB offers six-month Approval in Principle.

Top Dublin estate agent Owen Reilly gave us some wonderful advice on the house-hunting process.

"When it comes to deciding on the value and the amount to offer be sure to research selling prices, not asking prices. Agents and the Property Price Register can be a good source of data on this. All offers should be made in writing, and the bidding process is regulated by the Property Services Regulator to protect the interests of all stakeholders.

"Asking prices are a combination of what the seller wants and what the agent thinks. It should be underpinned by sales of similar properties but not always. Work out the average price per sq. ft. in the different neighbourhoods you are looking to buy in. There should be a reason any asking price is above that average. This could be the condition, size of the garden, view etc."

He adds, "We would regularly see buyers underestimating the cost of renovation on properties that require upgrading. I also think the seller would like to see the buyer or bidder doing some of that research on numbers upfront. You don't want a sale to fall through later on because the buyer has underestimated the cost of what they want to do on the property."

This first-time buyer checklist is just some of the best nuggets of wisdom we gathered from our last few AIB Livin Dublin events. To check out more unreal tips, tricks and advice from property and mortgage experts, make sure to check out our bespoke AIB Livin Dublin hub.

Allied Irish Banks, p.l.c. is an authorised agent and servicer of AIB Mortgage Bank in relation to the origination and servicing of mortgage loans and mortgages. Allied Irish Banks, p.l.c. is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. AIB Mortgage Bank is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.
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