ABOUT a week ago I was offered a place on the Dublin City Council Affordable Housing Scheme and to be honest while there was certainly a part of me that was excited at this, another part was thinking mmmhhh.
To my unexperienced property mind this is probably not the best time in the world to be offered a place on the scheme, which is I suppose a little strange considering I would have given my eye teeth for a place before now. I have just had the feeling for a while that the way the market is going that I would probably be better off trying to save for a deposit somehow and trying my hand in the open housing market outside of the Affordable Housing Scheme.
Affordable is a bit of a misnomer for someone buying by themselves because the price isn’t affordable on one salary and neither are the repayments. I am generally a positive person but have just never felt this scheme would get us our home. I’d still prefer to be in with a chance and be in the draw than out obviously.
So the place I have been offered is in a perfect area for us, even though she only has two years left of secondary education I still want somewhere near her school. The online brochure for the apartment complex looks wonderful. The apartments are snazzy and we took a run by them over the weekend and one immediate downside was apparent to me, the outside living part ie the balcony is tiny.
This is where I get frustrated because apparently being on the scheme means you have to be grateful for anything you are presented with and I am to some degree; after all this scheme is getting me closer to having a foot on the housing rung. But if I am going to commit to spending more than a quarter of a million on my first property I want it to be because I love it and can see us living there happily. Having no outside space is a deal-breaker for me.
I understand perfectly that Dublin has grown hugely over the last number of years and any housing is about density and we cannot expect houses or gardens, blah, blah, blah. While I would love a big garden, that is not going to happen sometime soon; as I said I understand that. However, I also feel whether rightly or wrongly that having lived for 14-odd years with no access to outside that I have done my time of no outside living. If there are any Gods of Justice surely they back me in my quest for a small measure of outside living, private outside living where you do not have to sit on the side of a busy main road with people gawking at you from passing buses to enjoy an evening.
But there is a notion of ‘what can you expect’ being on the Affordable Housing Scheme, take what you are given and be happy. Not that this is coming from the local authority, this is something I feel when I talk about it to other people. Often people with homes and gardens. But at the end of the day, this is the biggest investment I will have made to date and if I look at a balcony and say ‘no’ that is fine. As lovely as it would be I am not expecting a palatial penthouse spread around the side of the building balcony, just somewhere I can continue in the vein I have started here. Not that the next point is a consideration, it isn’t, but what on earth would I do with all my pots? The balcony of the place we were offered would barely hold our two chairs and even then it would be a case of two people touching knees or probably the more likely scenario of actually being on each other’s laps trying to sit out and enjoy an evening.
It was tiny, there is no way I could enjoy the planting I have this year at all. And is it bad for that to be a consideration? I don’t think so at all. I want a little bit of outside life.
So when I went for mortgage approval and haven’t been given the amount I need I wasn’t disappointed. Course it gave me a lot to think about with pointers on what I need to do to finally get on the property ladder. Firstly I need to clear the loan I took out two years ago; that took a considerable amount off what the bank would give me, considerable and considering I have another three years to pay it off, that is a little scary. I think it is time to upt the photography as an extra means of income.
Another mad point for me is the fact that for some of the calculations made by the bank I pay the equivalent of the mortgage repayments in rent, this is nothing new, I have been doing that and more for years. When I moved into the last place some 14 years ago I was paying more in rent than an average mortgage at the time, a mortgage no one would have given me. But this doesn’t count and as I said I understand a mortgage is worked out, among other reasons, on your ability to pay, but considering my rent is already up there, it doesn’t count.
Maybe it makes sense to just me but if I am turned down for a mortgage on the bank or underwriter’s belief in my ability to pay back I still have to pay rent irregardless. So I can be turned down for a mortgage with repayments nearly akin to my mortgage and I will continue to pay the rent that I have to because I have to. That part doesn’t make sense to me, there has to be some consideration for that but there isn’t.
And now economically things have taken a nose-dive, God knows what is going to happen. I am hoping it will all sort itself out in the wash and house prices will continue to drop enabling me to finally buy a home before the Young Wan leaves home.
Failing that I hope at the very least the Affordable Housing look at the way single parents fit or not in the scheme. Having my daughter means I have a dependent which is more black marks against me according to the bank and I am still somewhat bitter to have been excluded from the Social and Affordable Scheme because my overtime made me just over the income threshold for that year with no regard at all for my expenses relating to my daughter. The income was assessed for the year she started secondary school and the fact that cost me more than a grand meant nothing at all. So someone single with no kids who earned a few hundred less than me in the year (which amounts to about €400 in my hand spread over the year) and didn’t fork out €1200 for back to school were considered while I wasn’t. But thems the rules but it is something that I intent to write to the council about.
So for now all I can do is sit back and wait and hope.