Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Taking the plunge in the property market

I tend to keep my cards very close to my chest where financial matters are concerned. I find that if I leave them any further away, I walk off and forget about them and my wife is always picking them up and throwing them in the green bin.
So recently, when I got a welcome and totally unexpected piece of news regarding an inheritance, I did not clamber up on the roof and pronounce the glad tidings at the top of my voice. I simply sat there at the kitchen table smiling to myself and humming a Lionel Richie tune.
“What are you looking so pleased about?” demanded my wife suspiciously. My sudden bursts of good humour tend to have an unnerving effect on her and the sooner she gets to the bottom of my bonhomie, the easier she can rest.
“Oh, no reason, my little Venus flycatcher,” I smiled at her sweetly. “What way’s the property market these days? Have we reached the bottom yet?”
“What are you up to?” she countered, maintaining her long tradition of answering a question with a question.
It was no good. I could keep it in no longer.
“It’s just that I was thinking of buying an apartment in Kimmage,” I announced breezily.
The words had the desired effect. My wife’s jaw dropped and she stared at me like a guppy fish. My daughter shrieked. “For me? For me?” while my son wanted to know where Kimmage was.
It was obvious from my wife’s expression that she was missing some information here so I calmly told her about the inheritance and explained that I was thinking of delving into the property market. And to my daughter’s deep disappointment, I told her that I was thinking of buying it as an investment property to keep the wolf from the door later on. I had never thought of myself as a landlord but the more I considered the idea, the more I liked it, especially as everyone around me seemed to have property here, there and everywhere.
I could see my wife was doubtful from the way her eyebrows were so arched they were actually two inches above the top of her head. The questions came thick and fast. Why this sudden interest in the property market? Did I think this was really a good time to buy? Would I not be leaving myself short if other contingencies arose? What kind of return could I expect from an apartment in Kimmage?
I explained to my son that Kimmage was where the three lovely lasses came from and that it was on the south side of the city, probably the equivalent of Phibsboro (which he’d heard of.)
And then patiently I told my wife that I had been thinking of investing in an apartment for quite a while and the inheritance had provided me with the funds to do it. I was quite satisfied with the expected yields and was confident the apartment would not remain idle for long. Yes, I realised there were occasional levies on properties but that was a chance I had to take.
“But Kimmage?” she said incredulously.
“I know it sounds weird,” I replied, “but realistically I’m not going to afford anywhere in the City Centre or Dublin 4. But hey, who knows, with the returns from this property, the next step could well be an apartment on Grafton Street.”
“You’re sure you have this inheritance?” she persisted. “It’s not like in Coronation Street where people spend thousands and haven’t read the small print?”
In reply, I simply smiled and held up my recent communication. She snatched it out of my hand and began to read avidly, while Louise and Neil clamoured around, reading over her shoulder.
“Some people have all the luck,” she grumbled eventually, handing it back to me with little grace. “Well, it’s your money and you can spend it how you like. All I will say to you is – think very carefully. It’s a very big step, owning property.”
“Nobody ever got rich without taking risks,” I countered. “Listen, I’ve done the sums and they all work out. One thing’s for sure, the prices aren’t going to get any lower and I can always remortgage if things start getting sticky.”
Louise and Neil resumed their seats, somewhat gruffly I thought. I think they thought I might have given them a handout. Not in this game, I thought. You reap what you sow and you don’t get a free ride from anyone.
“Right,” said my wife. “Put your card back at the bottom of the pile. €500,000 for your inheritance. €500,000 the cost of one apartment. There you go. That should send shivers down the spine of anyone avoiding my hotels on Shrewsbury Road and Ailesbury Road.”

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