A couple originally from Brazil but now living in Waterford have spoken about how difficult it can be to find a suitable and affordable house for purchase.

It comes as a new survey found that the average price of a three-bed semi-detached house nationally has breached €300,000 for the first time since 2007.

The Real Estate Alliance Average House Price Index concentrates on the sale price of Ireland's typical stock home, the three-bed semi.

The actual selling price across the country rose by 1.4% over the quarter to €301,370. This marks an annual increase of 3.7% and a rise of 28% over the past three years.

Prices in Dublin city rose by 0.8% in the last three months, meaning that the average three-bed semi in Dublin is now selling at €504,167 - an increase of 1.3% in the last year.

Regiane Larrosa and her husband Lucas Benvenutti have been renting in Waterford in recent years, initially in an apartment and then in a house.

However, earlier this year, they got word that they would have to leave the house and they began mulling over their options.

"Are we going for another rented house or is there a possibility to buy a house? So everything started from that point," said Ms Larrosa, who works as an administrator in the West Pharma company in Waterford.

The couple have been told they will have to leave their rented accommodation.

"Both options were difficult. Renting a house would be too much for us, higher than we are [paying for] renting now, and [to] buy a house was very difficult, to find a house. We did so many viewings and the prices were very, very high.

"We were surprised because, especially because we had our first [mortgage] approval in principle in one price and then when we found a house we went back to the bank and the bank gave us less than we were expecting. We were trying to find a house the same size as our current house, so it was difficult."

However, their house-hunting story has had a happy ending and Ms Larrosa and Mr Benvenutti hope to move in to a house they are buying before too long.

"It’s here in Waterford, it’s a nice neighbourhood, a nice house," Ms Larrosa said.

"We got everything sorted with our real estate and our banks, so finally we have a new home."

Second-hand property

The index, which gives a picture of the second-hand property market in towns and cities countrywide, shows that house prices in Ireland's large towns rose by 2% in the past three months.

They are increasing at twice the rate of Dublin and the major cities as mortgage-approved buyers chase properties within their price ceiling.

Meanwhile, cities outside Dublin experienced a 0.73% rise to an average selling price of €317,500, with the annual rate of increase halving to 4.5% from the previous survey.

REA also said that the time taken to reach sale agreed nationally fell from six to five weeks as low supply continues to drive sales in an increasing interest rate environment.

"While we are still seeing increases in prices, the buyer profile is changing, with younger first-time buyers being increasingly forced to travel for affordability," REA spokesperson Barry McDonald said.

"A stream of interest rate rises are affecting borrowing capacity and placing ever lower ceilings on first-time buyer budgets," Mr McDonald noted.

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"The condition of the property, and its BER rating, is all-important, probably now more than ever as buyers cannot afford the additional costs of home renovation," he added.

The research from REA shows that 57% of sales are to first-timers, a figure that rises to 85% in Wicklow, Meath and North County Dublin as mortgage-approved buyers hunt suitably priced property.

The pricing ceiling effect is also being felt down the coast as far as Wexford where 50% of buyers are now from outside the county, the survey found.

Cities outside Dublin experienced a 0.73% rise to an average selling price of €317,500, with the annual rate of increase halving to 4.5% from the previous survey.