It was supposed to be the most exciting time of my life instead I'm trapped in a negative equity nightmare after dreams of city apartment living turned sour. I paid $740,000 for an apartment now worth roughly $265,000.
I splashed out two years ago on the trendy pad in the Dublin docklands but at the time I had no idea it would end up becoming my own financial prison.
Since reading the Irish Times Property supplement two weeks ago with the headline “A Dockland’s Deal” I have endured sleepless nights and bouts of anxiety and regret when I signed away my life without really knowing what I was getting into.
Two years ago, with help from my parents, I bought into the sought-after riverside location in Dublin 2 for the horrifying sum of $740,000.
However two years on, the corner block of the same aesthetically beautiful Grand Canal Square apartments are being offered to first-time buyers for a sickening $265,000.
All week I have thrown dirty looks to the apartments in question from my fifth-floor apartment window in the next- door building.
It’s become such a bitter taste of defeat as I stare out my window each morning that I leave the blind down continually.
Two years ago I was all guns blazing ready to embrace apartment living and swap my family home in the leafy suburbs of Rathmines for life as a city slicker.
“Contemporary designed apartments in an exceptional city-centre location" encapsulated it all for me.
Life was going to be good in the fast lane with what I envisaged would be an edgier and more cosmopolitan type of existence. I was a stylish professional, free from parents and time curfews, and now living in a bustling centre of activity, in my eyes, I had it all.
When I bought my new home in May 2008, I knew exactly what I wanted. A two-bed apartment designed for modern living with a roof garden and outdoor space with great views of the city for holding summer barbeques on balmy evenings. When I saw just this, it accelerated my impulse to buy immediately, even though the market was softening.
The two-bed showroom unit apartment on the fifth floor wasn't exactly affordable, considering I was buying alone, but with its sleek Scandinavian furniture and skyline views I was prepared to stretch my cash limits and fork out the $740,000 sum required.
Printed in bold on the pastel-coloured brochure at the launch of the complex was the slogan: "contemporary tailored apartment living that won't cost you the shirt on your back". Truth is, it's costing me that and a hell of a lot more.
I now see my apartment devalue massively on a daily basis.
Trapped by negative equity, if I did decide to move, I would stand to make a massive loss on my investment. It has been reported that "those who bought a house in 2007 will have to wait until 2030 before they move out of negative equity".
However, month after month I tirelessly continue to make bank repayments which will amount to a lot more than what the property is actually worth. It especially doesn't help that in these early years all those monthly repayments appear to knock just fractions off the overall mortgage loan.
I ignored repeated warnings both from my parents and the Central Bank and instead ploughed in head first and handed over the money.
Only those in the same situation can understand why I am nursing an injury. It may not be of the physical kind but it’s a wound nonetheless, a deep financial one.
The market’s collapse is the worst thing that has happened many young people of my generation.
Hindsight is a very exact science and as I read the Grand Canal brochure describing the bathrooms as “white and grey flecked marble with high-spec chrome fittings, heated towel rails and mirrored cabinets”, I chastise myself for incarcerating myself in my own financial prison.
I am so worried, I can hardly think of anything else. The words “docklands deal” have dominated my life since the launch last week.
Experts say the apartment market will take longer to recover than the market for any other type of Dublin property, primarily because of oversupply.
And the most depressing thing is the value of my apartment will not rise in the foreseeable future and may fall more, so I am stuck.
Each day in the newspapers, I eyeball three-bedroom houses in affluent areas on sale for around what I paid for my apartment.
At least I can put the newspaper down or flick over the page, however there is no getting away from the apartments across the street. With two-beds ranging from $320,000, this luxurious complex has turned into an “eyesore” of a development for me.
Yesterday the bill for the management fee came in. It is for $2, 227.00 – another figure I carefully choose to ignore back then. And come December 7th with the Irish budget, I will probably have a property tax on top of this.
Alison O’Riordan is a freelance journalist living in Dublin
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