“There are lots of cheap houses that, with just a little work, are ready to move into straight away”
The RTE TV star stressed that owning your own home is not out of reach for people who are willing to move out of the cities and live in rural houses.
With many companies now allowing their staff to work remotely, Maggie points out that this is also giving people the opportunity to snap up bargain properties.
However, Molloy claims that many wannabe home owners are “turning up their noses” at modest houses because they want to live in high end luxury.
“You can find a cheap house for a buyer, but if the buyer wants to spend 200,000 doing it up then it’s not a cheap house anymore,” says Maggie, whose show returns to RTE TV next Thursday.
“The trick is finding a cheap house and then educating people that they don’t need to come in and take it back to the stones and build a brand new house, because that’s basically what a lot of people do.
“They will find a nice old stone cottage that granny has been living in up to two years ago quite comfortably. She had got the grants for all her mobility aids and there’s a nice new bathroom and wet room, and they will come in and, just because the house is an old house, they assume the whole thing needs to be gutted.
“They find a house for €80,000 that is habitable, and then they just pull the whole thing apart and it’s going to cost a fortune. They might as well have built a new house.
“There are lots of cheap houses that, with just a little work, are ready to move into straight away. People could then do them up over a period of years.”
Molloy first bought her own home in the early 2000s for just €80,000 when she was 23 years of age.
“Generally the houses I look at have been lived in by people over the age of 70,” Maggie says. “This is our most vulnerable group, our elderly, and if they are able to live in those houses and survive, how can our 20 and 25-year-olds not live in them, and how can they be turning their noses up at them?
“A lot of these houses have wet rooms and electric showers, it’s not like you are asking someone to sleep in a cowshed. It’s a functioning house, and really a lot of what people complain about is just the cosmetics.
“People are coming in and saying, ‘Yeah, it’s an OK house, but how much would it cost to get it up to spec?’… and you are like, ‘what is up to spec?! I brought people to see houses that are being currently lived in and are up for sale and in some cases the family selling left the house that morning so we could view it, and the potential buyer then complains that it’s not up to spec!”
Should we cop on to ourselves? “I think as time goes on and we are not getting houses and people are renting or back living with their parents, there are compromises that can be made. I think that moving into a house that’s not perfect is a fairly good compromise.
“The way I look at it is, if you are renting and your rental situation is less than ideal then really all you should be looking for is somewhere that’s a step up from your rent. I think if you could just buy one step up from what you are renting then that’s an improvement and it’s yours and you are getting on the property ladder. These are the compromises you can make.
“The trick is to get people to buy cheap houses, but also try and convince them that they don’t have to buy into this whole interiors magazine ‘look’ of a house.
“People genuinely think everybody has this and they are the only people in the world that don’t have it. Everybody doesn’t have this open plan living with the big glass windows. Everybody doesn’t live like that. The people you see in the magazines do, but they are such a small cross section of people and it’s not normal life.
“We are showing people what normal life is like and it just gives them a little bit of permission to like it. It’s educating people and going, ‘Look, there are people here in Ireland that are living in these houses.’”
Molloy, who co-presents Cheap Irish Homes with building engineer Kieran McCarthy, says that some of the house seekers in the new series of Cheap Irish Homes are now going back to basics.
She adds: “I notice this year on the show that young people are getting braver and telling Kieran, who would be a great advocate for open plan living because it’s quite a modern thing and he builds modern houses, that they actually like the layout as it is in the properties we show them.
"They’re telling him, ‘I want my kitchen and my sitting room separate. I like the old traditional way that a house is laid out.’ It’s kind of nice that they are getting their heads back around it and realising that everything doesn’t have to be this big, open plan modern house.”
Cheap Irish Homes is on RTE One next Thursday at 7pm.