‘All my friends and family said ‘absolutely don’t do it!’ And his friends and family said exactly the same. But we thought about it and reasoned that we could trust one another. So we decided: ‘OK what the hell, let’s do this!’”
hile it’s an option that many young buyers have availed of, the choice to co-purchase a home between two friends has often been a road that ends in tears and acrimony.
Experts warn that while it often seems like an ideal quick fix option among singles to increase spending power and therefore acquire a much better home; life circumstances change; friends can fall out and dual ownership can make disposal messy and legally complicated, especially when one wants to get out and one doesn’t.
But back in 2013 tech worker Kevin Whelan was on the lookout for a house mate to share a rented home with him in Dublin’s Liberties. A friend of a friend was proposed to him, they were matched up and the two moved in.
“We got on really well and we shared that rented accommodation for a few years before both of us reached the point where it was time for each of us to buy our own first homes.”
Sean wanted his own apartment while his housemate was on the hunt for a small starter house.
“So we ended up in the funny position of both being out home hunting for about eight months. And both of our budgets were set at about €300,000.”
But both parties soon found themselves dismayed with what the market had to offer in their price ranges. “Of course every evening we’d talk about the places we’d been looking at and were outbid for. The apartments within my budget were poky, cheaply finished and small whereas the houses available to him were mostly run down, freezing cold and in need of a lot of expensive work.”
The idea of buying a property together didn’t occur to them immediately. “We were having these conversations about the great homes we were missing out on, the ones we couldn’t just reach which we could have bought easily if we pooled our resources. So that was an idea that gradually took hold.
“I talked to my family and my friends about the concept and all of them without exception advised against it. His friends and family were the same. I suppose a lot can go wrong and they were worried about that. So we had a discussion. We already knew we could live together no problem. We decided that we knew each other well enough and that we could trust each other in taking that step.” Thus armed with one great big double-sized budget, the prospective co-owners weren’t long looking before the right property came along.
“We talked to an estate agent who told us they knew of a property coming to market in the North Strand which had just been renovated on Leinster Avenue by builder Gerry Kilcoyne. We walked in and we knew we were home. It was amazing. We did a deal then and there.”
Kilcoyne had just taken what was ostensibly a run down artisan cottage at 33 Leinster Avenue with one window and a door facing the street and transformed it into something modern and extremely spacious.
“Not one person has come into this house since I have lived here and not been utterly surprised by it,” says Whelan. “They just can’t believe how expansive it is inside given its appearance from the road.” Now the house spans 1,300 sq ft; larger than a standard family three-bed semi and just a little smaller than an average four-bed.
Builder Gerry Kilcoyne says: “I was doing two houses in Dublin at the time, one in Portobello and this one. North Strand was derelict when I bought it and I was told it had been lived in by a fella who had worked in Guinness’s all his life. It was fairly straightforward to do because it had side access. My wife Josephine did all the internal design. We opened it up and added about 60pc more floor space with the extension. We finished it in about six months.”
Two years after buying the house in 2018, the first test of their property step strategy came when Whelan’s co-owner met someone and flagged that he wanted to sell up to move in with them.
“I told him that I’d love to stay at No33 and if there was any way I could buy him out I would. So we went to a bank and to our surprise they agreed. I’ve been living there ever since then. But now I’ve met someone and it’s time for me to move on.”
Looking back, Whelan agrees that, buying with a friend was the best thing he could have done, not only for getting that first step on the property ladder, but also making it easier to take the next step. However he realises he was lucky to have had the right co-buyer.
Accommodation includes an entrance hall and off this is bedroom one (currently a home office) with a spiral staircase leading up to an extra mezzanine space and an ensuite with a power shower. The heart of the house is that big contemporary living/kitchen/dining room with an inset wood burning stove, integrated sound system and recessed speakers. The kitchen has a built-in Neff double oven with five ring gas hob in kitchen island.
Bedroom two and three are both doubles and the latter has its own ensuite with a power shower. There’s also a family bathroom with a bath and power shower combo. Outside there’s a good sized patio garden on two levels which includes a storage shed.
DNG seeks €575,000 and is happy to take offers from co-buyers.
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