#5 The Mortgage.

She was young, good with the computer in the air-conditioned office – had a name like Ciara, Jane, Sarah, one of those. We’ll go for Laura. Swivel chair.  Leaflets on the table with affirmations in big writing. “SAVING FOR A NEW HOME? YOUR JOURNEY BEGINS HERE.” It all sounded so good. Especially with the ads on the telly that make it all look so straightforward, possible, simple.

            Laura had the figures, all the forms. Payslips, rent receipts, outgoings, savings. Typed it all in. Moved the mouse. Frowned a bit and said: ‘Hmm…not looking good.’

            ‘No?’

            ‘No. I’m afraid.’

            ‘What’s the problem?’

            ‘There’s an offer but…it’s quite low.’

            ‘How low?’

            ‘I wouldn’t even bother putting it through. It’s not us, it’s the Central Bank. We have no control over what they offer. Maybe you cut down any spending on the account.’

            ‘Like what?’

            ‘You know, direct debits, like Broadband and stuff…less outgoings the better…’

            ‘I’m paying twice the cost of a mortgage on rent for the last five years – does that make any difference?’

             ‘Not really, sorry. But you could try somewhere else and see if their criteria is different? Did you mention you have a daughter?’

            ‘I did.’

            ‘It’s probably best to leave that out.’

            ‘Deny she exists?’

            She shrugged, said: ‘It’s up to you.’

            A week later. Different bank. Airconditioned office. Her name was Mary, Marie, Marion, one of those. We’ll go for Jacinta. She asked: ‘How much are you looking for?’

            I told her. She sighed, like jeez, wow, said: ‘You’re a bit off.  It’s not us, it’s the Central Bank. We have no control over what they offer. You’re welcome to try somewhere else? Could you cut down the spending on the account?’

            ‘How, like Broadband and all that…?’

            ‘Yes, and phone bills, Health Insurance etc…it might help…’

            Week later, tried an online application. Then the phone rang. He had a professional voice. Mark, Greg, Chris, one of those. He said: ‘It’s notoriously difficult – practically impossible. You’d really need to be making a minimum of 50/60k plus per year…and even then, with the way the market is…make sure there’s no unnecessary spending on the account too…’

            ‘Like what?’

            ‘Takeaways, Luxury spending…’

            What’s luxury spending?’

            ‘Like Netflix and things like subscriptions…definitely no hotels or weekends away or anything like that….’

            And then he threw in the bit about the Central Bank and having no control and how I could try somewhere else. Kinda running out of places now. And patience. Then Greg asked: ‘Have you tried the government scheme?’

            Asked around about that. There was a link, a website, and some lovely FAQ’S. Then a Tolstoy feast of forms. All in square boxes with explicit instructions not to make a bollix of it or it would be rejected on the spot. Said I better ring before I chanced it. Her name was Patricia, Patrice, Pamela. One of those. She listened to the story said: ‘Not much point goin ahead at this stage.’

            ‘No?’

            ‘No. You’ll need to clear all or any debts, finance deals, loans, credit cards, overdrafts everything like that. Then you’ll need about six months to a year of a perfect bank account with no excessive spending and especially no gambling….Paddy Power, Online Lottos, anything like that. Cut out excessive spending, holidays, weekends away, nights out, restaurants, eh…keep electricity costs down….no missed payments in the previous 12 months or it’s an automatic rejection…. let’s see what else…do you have a car or could you get rid of it if you do?’

            ‘I had a Peugeot til lately but it had to be scrapped…’

            ‘Ok, one less expense.’

            ‘And what happens if I qualify after all that…’

            ‘Then you’ll need about twenty thousand for a deposit, proof of long term permanent employment and, with some luck, we might be able to do something for you. But no guarantees. What age are you by the way?’

            I told her. She said: ‘Oh…’

            ‘Is that an issue?’

            ‘You need to get cracking. If you don’t get it sorted this year, forget about it…’

            ‘

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