'This is how bad it's got' - buyers queue for days for new homes
Desperate house hunters have taken a week off work to queue in the cold and rain outside the sales office of a Dublin housing development that hasn't even been finished yet.
The queue started at 6.30am on Monday morning for the 24 homes at Beechwood Heath in Hansfield, Dublin 15.
They are due to go on sale on Friday.
As the rain fell incessantly and a cold wind whipped around the sales office, panicked buyers told how they have taken time off work and organised childminders so they can stay in the queue in the hope of finally getting a home.
"This is the situation now. This is how bad it's got," said one man.
Sitting on deck chairs, wrapped in blankets and winter clothing, the buyers were hoping the sales agents would issue them with numbered tickets so they can get on with their lives and come back on Friday when the sales office opens.
"We have an orderly agreed queue here, and we all know where each other are in it, so we think the selling agents should do the right thing and give us tickets. Our lives are on hold while we are here," said one young mother.
"There are people coming to us with food, and we are availing of local toilets and the kindness of others."
A ticket system was later introduced, allowing people to go home.
Another man said: "The homes carry guide prices of between €300,000 and €500,000 at the moment. They are three and four-bedroom units, but we won't know an exact price until Friday morning."
He joined the queue early on Monday morning. A woman who is near the top of the queue said the housing supply is so low that there is high demand and a climate of rising prices.
"We hear another 11 units will go in sale in June, but what price will they be?" she told the Herald. "It's a Catch 22 situation. You can look for second-hand houses and be out-bid, or go for a new-build and have to queue like this for a fixed price."
There was an open day for the new development last Friday, and one person in the queue said that potential buyers were told that "people queued for the last phase".
Miguel Paz stood patiently in the queue getting to know his potential neighbours.
"I am from Spain and I have never seen this happen over there. Yet people here tell me it is how things are done in Ireland now," he said.
Buyers will have to put a €2,000 deposit on the houses, and it is refundable if they do not proceed with the sale.
In the top five of the queue was Martin Mooney.
"We got married in February and my wife Jenny started queueing here on Monday at around 7.30am," he said.
"We have two children and we are organising things with our mothers to mind them while we queue.
"We have mortgage approval in principal and we are hopeful.
"My sister bought a house in the first phase, and when my friend bought one in the second phase it had gone up €5,000," added Mr Mooney.
The Herald contacted the selling agents, Kelly Walsh, to enquire if a ticketing system would be rolled out for those in the queue.
At first a spokeswoman said they were instructed not to comment, but late yesterday afternoon they handed out numbered tickets, which allowed the queue to disperse until Friday at noon.
Meanwhile, the chief executive of the Institute of Professional Auctioneers & Valuers (IPAV), Pat Davitt, said no one should have to queue in the outside and overnight to buy a house.
The IPAV organisation represents 1,100 auctioneers nationwide.
Mr Davitt said the issue "is a symptom of a severe lack of supply of homes".