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My relationship has soured but is now the right time to buy a house?


My relationship soured a few years ago but I’ve been stuck in the same house as my former partner since then because I needed to save up a deposit and she worked a minimum wage job and has nowhere else to go.

I’ve finally got a deposit saved and with the strain of working from home since March, I feel I need to move soon.

My big concern is that the property market here in Kildare looks like it will collapse any day with all the job losses, reduced immigration and a move away from commuting. Do I risk it and buy now to save my sanity or hold off another while to wait for the crash that seems inevitable?

Mr NF, Kildare

The coronavirus lockdown has brought to a head family disharmony in many homes. Spouses and partners who, in ordinary times, were able to work around each other with minimal contact following the breakdown of their relationship, suddenly found themselves all too close physically, and depending on each other in myriad small ways.

Figures published last week show there had been a 20 per cent increase in Garda call-outs to domestic violence incidents since the end of March, with 27,174 incidents logged. And that’s just incidents reported to the Garda; many, if not most, are not.

Fortunately this has not been an issue in your case but, by your own admission, you feel under strain.

Assessing house prices is a gamble at the best of times. Most recently the early assumptions were that the pandemic would knock prices back significantly. In the event, according to the most recent market reports, prices are pretty much treading water – up fractionally overall, though there are obviously variations depending on the type of property and where in the country it is situated.

You worry particularly about property in your own county, Kildare, on the basis of recent and feared job losses, reduced immigration and a general move away from commuting given the risk Covid-19 presents.

You could just as well have said that Kildare prices might rise on the basis of the general undersupply of property and a trend towards remote working meaning that main Kildare natives, and others, living in Dublin might be keen to move out of the city in search of better prices and a higher standard of living.

Which is right? We don’t know. But that’s the point. Waiting endlessly for a desired set of circumstances that may never materialise is not the best basis on which to make decisions about home purchase.

As the most recent lockdown in Kildare shows, things can change quickly but, as the lifting of the Laois and Offaly lockdowns shows, they can also pass quickly. Even if you start now, it will probably be year end or early next year, at best, before you are in a new home.

You have knuckled down and accepted a living arrangement that is less than ideal for both you and your former partner because you needed to build up the cash reserves to afford a new home and she simply does not earn enough to consider anything other than staying where she now is.

You also talk about the strain you (and, no doubt, she) have been under and about the need to preserve your sanity.

When you weigh up your personal health against the prospect of winning or losing a €1,000 here or there on a property price, it is in my view a no-brainer.

This will be your home, not an investment property, so if it loses a little value in the short term, so be it. You’ll be living there a good while – and you’ll (hopefully) be happier.

Please send your queries to Dominic Coyle, Q&A, The Irish Times, 24-28 Tara Street, Dublin 2, or email This column is a reader service and is not intended to replace professional advice. No personal correspondence will be entered into

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