21 March 2022
“To be honest, at the start, I didn’t know much about the process at all,” laughs 23-year-old Sonia Ani. “I think the only thing I knew about a mortgage was from secondary school accounting class!”
It’s natural for the home-buying process to seem completely alien when you’re starting out, whatever your age. In Sonia’s case, however, she decided to embark on the life-changing journey as early as possible. However, self-discipline and some expert guidance means she’s already living in her dream apartment.
When inspiration meets dedication
“I was 19, newly-qualified and starting my professional career,” says Sonia. “Soon after that, I got properly into interior designing – really fell in love with it. I just thought to myself ‘I’d love my own space to decorate.’ So that was the motivating factor. My love for interiors was why I was able to do it. It kept me going.”
Plenty of research would follow – “Mainly on YouTube!” – that made it “much easier to understand the process along the way”, but Sonia didn’t wait until she was an expert to put a savings plan in place.
“I made an effort to save first and spend later.”
“I suppose I did need a lot of discipline,” she recalls. “But I knew what I wanted. I had that motivation, which made it easier. I also continued to stay at home with my family, which I was lucky to be able to do. Then, I was really strict with myself. When I got paid, I would put my savings in a separate account straight away. That meant I’d know what my budget was for the month. Even though I was starting to earn money from my career, I didn’t go over-budget. Didn’t go on holidays! I limited my expenses.”
Finding the perfect place – and the right rate
Sonia was ‘very specific’ about her first home’s wishlist. “I wanted an apartment,” she notes. “Three bedrooms and a nice space. I didn’t want a garden, just a nice balcony. Something that was up a level or two, not on the ground floor. I didn’t want it to be too far from my family either, so location was very important.”
Although Sonia followed the advice to view a number of properties, her ultimate home ended up being the first apartment she saw. “I kept looking in case there was somewhere else I might prefer. But my heart was set. I knew I wanted this place. I could see myself in here. I could picture the furniture… the curtains… everything!”
“It was love at first sight!”
Another big call came in choosing a mortgage. So, what factors were involved in deciding that permanent tsb was the right fit for her?
“What was really important to me when picking a mortgage provider was the cashback and the interest rates,” she explains. “I wanted something really affordable. I ended up going for a fixed rate. Mainly because this was my first home-buying journey and I wanted a fixed monthly cost that I would be fully comfortable with. Where I knew exactly what was coming and knew what to prepare for each month.”
*Getting settled with cashback
Sonia remembers the mortgage process itself being “pretty fast”.
“There was just a waiting period between signing off contracts and stuff like that. Once I got the mortgage offer, we were good to go. It went very quickly.
“Once that’s done, you get your keys. It’s such a nice feeling. A surreal experience. But you’ll be very proud once you have them in your hand. When you’ve secured that place where you’ve been dreaming of living for a long time.”
“I used my cashback for basically all my interior decorating”
On top of that, knowing that 2% cashback would be paid into her mortgage-paying account within 40 working days of drawdown meant she was able to start living out her interior decorating dream straight away.
“The cashback was so helpful! I was very excited to get my feature wall done. It meant I could get a sofa as soon as I moved in. I got two of my three beds. You don’t want to be waiting a long time for your bed and sofa! I had a shopping list, a wish list… everything! So once I got the cashback, I could look through them and go ‘okay, I can get this, I can get that…’ It was brilliant.”
Words of wisdom
Sonia is pragmatic when passing on her learnings to others prospective buyers.
“For anyone trying to get on the ladder and get your own home, I’d say; save, save, save! But make it easier. Opening a savings account will stop you tempting yourself. Be strict with yourself and you will get there.”
“I found out I was actually a really good saver because I was motivated”
Most of all, Sonia says that everybody needs a dream home in mind.
“Definitely. You have to have a motivation, a reason why you want it. Otherwise, you might feel frustrated along the line. I really wanted a place I could decorate and make feel like my own. So that was my motivation. I think I’d even a few things bought already, before moving into the place, like a clock. That was an incentive: I want my own space, and I’m going to have this in it…”
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*Offer available to new applicants who receive a full letter of approval up to 30/06/2022. 2% cashback at drawdown will be paid on the amount of the mortgage advanced. Excludes 4 Year Fixed Home Loan New Business Rates, tracker, buy-to-let, negative equity and applicants refinancing an existing permanent tsb mortgage. 2% cashback at drawdown is paid into the customer’s mortgage paying account (which does not need to be a permanent tsb account) within 40 working days of mortgage drawdown. The qualifying period (11 January 2016 until 30 June 2022) may be extended as permanent tsb decides.
You may have to pay charges if you pay off a fixed-rate loan early.
Product eligibility criteria applies. Lending criteria, terms and conditions apply. Security and Insurance required. permanent tsb p.l.c is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.
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