There was talk of riots and rows — but it was hugs and handshakes instead being shared by the young couples and families who bought up one of the former Ballykelly Army homes.
For over a week, the roadside of the A2 in the Co Londonderry town became home to an ever-increasing number of young people, determined to endure all kinds of hardships for the chance to buy one of the 317 houses that went on sale on Saturday morning.
With prices from £30,000 to £65,000 these houses were like no others in Northern Ireland, they were within grasp of first time buyers and fittingly every single house went to one.
Stephen McLean and his fiancée Hannah Potter, the first couple to pitch a tent eight days ago, entered the booking office at 9am to the sound of a rousing cheer from those waiting behind them in scenes typical of the camaraderie that built up among the residents of the temporary ‘tent town’.
There were prophets of doom who predicted riots and rows for Saturday but they were wrong. The orderly and democratic system that had been initiated by the campers themselves prevailed and there was no pushing or shoving — just more good natured banter and congratulations.
It is clear that a neighbourhood had been formed over the week of camping along the roadside and this bond will only grow once this little community moves into their homes in a few weeks.
Derek McAleese from DMC Properties was the selling agent for the houses. While this was undoubtedly a huge success for him as a business deal, he was clearly affected by the hugs and handshakes he received from the young people who had just paid the deposit on their new home.