A Cork couple have had €200,000 written off their mortgage.
The family from Macroom and their solicitor struck the deal with an American lender and hope that their story will “give hope” to homeowners in similar situations.
Their solicitor told The Irish Examiner that he expected more banks to cut their losses rather than go down the bankruptcy route once new personal insolvency laws come into place later this year.
Greg O’Brien and his wife Catriona had a €360,000 mortgage on their five-bedroom home, which they bought in 2004, when Greg lost his job as a project manager for a construction firm in 2009.
When he was made redundant their lender restructured their loan so that they were paying interest only for 12 months.
Despite GE Money not harassing the couple about the new arrangements, it was a constant source of worry, as Greg told the Examiner.
“The worry became so much that we got to the point that the house didn’t mean anything more than just being bricks and mortar. We were beyond the point of the house meaning anything. We just wanted our family to be happy and safe again and, as long as the house was still hanging around our necks, that wouldn’t happen,” said Greg.
Greg and Caitriona began to comb the internet for solicitors with expertise in negative equity and stumbled upon Dublin-based firm, Anthony Joyce & Co. Unlike many solicitors in this area who help clients stay in their home, Mr Joyce specialises in helping clients get rid of both their debt and their house so they can begin debt-free lives.
Early this month, he negotiated a deal for the Macroom family which — with the help of local auctioneer, Killian Lynch — saw them sell their former home for €160,000. The remaining €200,000 was written off by GE Money.
The O’Briens are now renting a house, have set up a small business locally, and are much happier for it.
“We just hope that our story might give hope to other people out there who have the worries that we had and who can’t yet get their head around the whole thing. So much stress has been taken out of our lives by selling up. My advice to anyone out there would be to contact a professional like Anthony. From the moment he got involved, he took over all correspondence and just dealt with everything. Our auctioneer Killian was also fantastic to deal with,” he said.