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The First Time Buyer’s Journey and Hidden Costs to Be Aware Of.

For most of us, a house is the biggest purchase we will make in our life and it’s also the most important. It’s important because, our home loan will be far bigger than any personal loan or car loan; you agree to a term that lasts two to three decades, and, in most cases, you must save a deposit on the property (at least 10%).

The average house price in Ireland is around €323,000 (Central Statistics, Feb 2024). But unfortunately, this isn’t the only price to pay. There are many other costs, some hidden, which can seriously impact your finances and your chances of completing the purchase.

I want to write about some of these additional costs in this post, so that you can make sure you can afford to pay them. Hopefully these insights will help you prepare for buying your ideal home.

Costs of Buying a Home Not Included in a Mortgage

Many first-time homebuyers (FTBs) make the mistake of looking only at the deposit and the mortgage costs. They review their finances, check mortgage calculators and and invariably, miscalculate how much they can spend. 

It is only when they begin the mortgage application process does the truth sink in and they realise that they’ll also have to pay other, additional costs.

These costs would include:

-Stamp Duty (1% of house value)

-Solicitors Fees (€2,500 – €3,000 + VAT)

-Valuers Report (c.€165)

-Surveyors Report (c.€375 + VAT)

– Insurance (Mortgage Protection & Home Insurance, c. €600 per year)

Are They Really Hidden Costs?

Well, I suppose they might be construed as unexpected costs, to the less well prepared. But, in essence, the very fact that I’ve listed them above means that they are not hidden, per se.

Also, most of the costs will be outlined on the mortgage documents. No one is going to stick you with an unexpected bill if you’re paying attention during the process or you have professional advice.

If in any doubt the best approach is to use a mortgage broker to work with. For instance, with MortgageLine, we will find the most suitable mortgage offer for you, see how much you can afford, check you qualify, understand where you stand with regards to mortgage protection and life insurance, and make sure you have access to all the money in advance.

How Much Money Should You Save Before Buying a House?

Many of our clients, initially ask the question, “How much money should we save?”. We always advise “the more you save, the better.” However you will need at least 10% of the purchase price plus legal fees and stamp duty.

Any extra money will help you finish the house, which can be costly if you’re buying your first home.Of course, you also must consider utility bills and, general living expenses. There is no point in spending all your savings on a house and then not be able to enjoy it thereafter. Having a professional help you with this aspect can avoid a lot of stress. 

Steps to Take When Buying a Home

The road to buying a home can seem long, especially if it’s your first. But by preparing, putting the time in and doing your research, you can avoid potential pitfalls and ensure you’re ready.Follow these steps to get on the right track and make sure you stay there.

1) Begin Early

The sooner you start looking for homes, the better. It’ll give you an idea of what’s on the market and what’s in your price range. Browse the online and press listings, over say 6 months, and have a look in the local estate agent’s windows.

Doing this should give you an idea as to how long certain homes stay on the market, and how much they sell for. Also, keep your eye on the ‘For Sale’ signs around and see how long they remain on the market. 

2) Calculate Affordability

Most buyers have a rough idea of what sort of house they can afford, but from our experience, it’s more than they actually can afford. People don’t think about the additional costs that I mentioned earlier. 

Also, they assume they’re going to be offered very favourable mortgage rates and terms. That isn’t always the case as there are many variables and regulations in the Irish market.

Use our, How Much Can I Borrow Calculator? to get an indication or better still, click Apply Online and we will organise to meet with you for a Free no-strings-attached, mortgage review.

3) Get Pre-Loan Approval

Obtaining pre-approval for a mortgage amount will be a big help with your considerations. It is not a guaranteed loan, but it does mean you have been assessed and it’s been determined how much you can afford.

4) Start Saving

As alluded to above, start saving as soon as you can. Even if you have the required deposit—it always helps to have more. 

5) Dealing with Estate Agents

Estate agents can seem helpful, but it is important to understand that they are working for the seller and trying to get the best price for the property. If you find a property you like make a reasonable starting offer and then keep in touch with the selling agent. Do not let them pressure you into a higher bid. Always, pause for at least 24 hours before going back with an increased bid.

6) Going sale agreed
Negotiating with estate agents can be tough but take your time and know your limit. Once you agree a price then the property will go Sale Agreed. Contact your Mortgage Broker who will help you appoint a solicitor and progress your mortgage to a full approval.

7) Arrange a Mortgage Valuation
Each of the mortgage lenders will have their own panel of approved mortgage valuers. Your Mortgage Broker will help you arrange the mortgage valuation and also a Structural Survey if needed. If you are buying a second hand property it is also recommended to get a Structural Survey.

8) Closing Paperwork
Once you have your full mortgage loan offer and your solicitor is hapy for you to sign then a closing date can be agreed. Work closely with your Mortgage Broker who will make sure your closing and getting the keys goes as smoothly as possible.


The most important thing you can do when buying a home is to take your time. Many buyers rush in. They want to stop renting, stop living with parents, and get their hands on their dream home, but obviously, this increases the risk of mistakes and oversights.

Our recommendation is that at Stage 1 (above) of your Buying Journey, you contact us here in MortageLine. We can help you work out your buying budget and find the best mortgage lender for your situation.

Be a smart buyer, not an impulsive buyer. Speaking with a Mortgage Broker as early as possible and planning ahead is key.

We have a First Time Buyers Guide that you can download for free by clicking the link or as mentioned, any of the MortgageLine team will be available to meet with you to discuss further details. Call us on 01 7079880.

Thank you – Stephen

Stephen Hamilton

Stephen Hamilton offers expert mortgage insights and solutions, empowering you to make informed financial decisions.