Tag Archives: First Time Buyer
Well hasn’t that been an exciting 2 months! I totally forgot to update here with everything that was happening and my brain has been almost totally mushed with all the things I needed to remember and decide about. For anyone who doesn’t follow me on Twitter (or who missed all the excitement!lol) we finally exchanged on our house on the 15th and completed on the 23rd of January.
It all came as a bit of a surprise and a mad rush. We knew almost everything was in place before Christmas, we were just waiting for 1 search to be returned and with how slowly the rest of our purchase had gone (check the dates on my other FTB posts!) we thought it still would take time this year when everything was finally in place and that’s why the surprise! We heard from our solicitors on the 13th suggesting an almost immediate exchange with completion on the 23rd and we jumped at the chance and other than the solicitor phoning to tell us to collect our keys before they were ready, it all went really smoothly for us.
So now we’re doing a long move in, we decided a while ago that we would not give notice on the house we currently live in until we actually had the keys to the new house in our hands. Even with all the penalties you can incur, some things can still go wrong after exchange and we really didn’t want to end up homeless!lol So, after giving notice we ended up with 5/6 weeks where we would have both houses, we decided that some of the older bits of furniture would need replacing and that we’d try to get them delivered before we moved in. This week we got the final delivery dates confirmed (please don’t let them change now!lol) and so have arranged the removals and clearance of this house so in about 2 weeks we will be moving properly in.
It’s been a very long journey for us, mostly because we were very picky over what we wanted and stuck it out when things slowed right down but looking at the parts we have completed so far over there, we both know it’s really been worth it, here, see for yourself, this is most of our dining room and the back of the kitchen
There is also another bit of news, I’ve been spending a day or two each week over at the house unpacking boxes and generally sorting out the bits that we’ve moved across ourselves already. Well, last week when I was over there, I actually went out, on my own! That’s the first time in about 5 years. I didn’t go far, just to the end of the road and back but it’s a start and shows I can do it, I just need to keep reminding myself of that if (when) things get tough again in the future 😀
So now most of you know we have had an offer accepted on a house, that was the nail-biting bit, waiting to see if they would accept our offer, then dealing with counter offers until we came to an agreement where we were all happy and luckily we managed it. So we’re paying a bit more than we wanted to but it’s not more than we can afford (which is the important bit) and we both really like this house and where it is (more on that once things are further along!lol)
After the agreement was made then came a mini mad rush with sorting out a mortgage and a conveyancer and getting them both all the documents they would need and appointments for them to see us and the house as well as deciding on if we were going to do a survey of the house ourselves as well as the banks valuation.
After looking into it we decided that we really should have one but then we were faced with trying to decide which to have done. We asked family for advice (thank you so much) and from what we heard from them and the surveyors we decided on a homebuyers report. The house we’re hoping to buy isn’t that old really and it’s quite typical so this should be all we need.
So now we’re in limbo, waiting for a mortgage offer, searches to come back, a report from the surveyor and (obviously) the people selling to find somewhere to buy themselves, I guess it’s a good job we’re not in any rush really 🙂
After doing all that research finally getting to look around the houses felt a bit of an anticlimax, especially on some of them! Before we went Dave had done a lot of research online and found what he was supposed to be looking for (traces of damp and odd lumpy walls) but I was more interested in if we would be able to live in the houses.
We have a couple of things here which are very bulky but we had already decided that if we couldn’t fit them into a house then we were prepared to get rid of them which made it easier to find properties to view. If I’d had to fit them both in, the list would have been 1 or 2 houses right from the begining!lol One thing I was concerned about was the kitchens though, it’s probably quite obvious but I love to cook so a small or badly planned kitchen just wouldn’t work for us and so this was the main room I wanted to see in each house!
We did the viewings we have done so far over 2 days, 4 on one and 3 on the other. We said that we’d try to not buy the first house we saw and when we went to see it, it was actually very easy to stick to it. The kitchen, which looked great in the photo’s that the Estate Agent had taken, was actually very tiny and I really don’t think it would hold even half of the gadgets I own let alone give me space to work as well!lol The next one was much better, it was actually very easy to see us living there but that wasn’t surprising really as it was one of the 3 houses we were viewing that was above our budget but this one would be affordable under our extended budget!lol
On to our third house, with this one, it was very nice but the agent who showed us around didn’t seem to know much about it and it was positioned on a very steep hill, all I could imagine the whole time we were there was the number of times I would fall down in the garden (you know how clumsy I am right?lol) and the fourth on this day was another one above budget and it was very nice, it again had everything we were looking for and even had extra rooms that would come in handy somehow and after leaving there we had a lot to take in and process before our last 3 that we had arranged already.
We both had our favourite of those we’d seen and felt pretty much the same way about all 4 but both of our favourites from what we’d seen online were still to come! We started in the one which was Dave’s favourite and this one certainly taught us a lesson. If Estate Agents don’t include a photo of a kitchen, there’s a real good reason for it! This one was tiny, other than the sink unit there was one other base unit with a wall cupboard above but that wasn’t what put me off the most, having the boiler above the cooker did that for me! There was no way we were buying that house, no matter how nice the rest of it was, extending the kitchen out and refitting it would just cost way to much. The next house had a much nicer kitchen but it was still small and I seriously debate the use of the word ‘utility’ to explain the dark store room behind the kitchen!lol
Finally we were off to see my favourite house but this was also the most expensive of them all, it was right at the top of everything we could afford but Dave decided it was worth having a look at anyway. It was lovely, everything we expected it to be from the pictures but …. the Agent really must have used a fish-eye lens on this one, it really wasn’t as big as we were expecting it to be and when compared with the other 2 which were only a little above budget, it didn’t really stand up for itself so we totally ruled that one out.
So this is where we are right now, we’ve viewed some houses, met some Estate Agents and learned a bit more about how they market the houses. Now we just need to find our home and I’ll keep you updated on what happens next 🙂
Once we felt we had enough saved up again this year we did the calculations again but this time we had a few different figures in mind. We knew how much we really wanted to pay due to increases in Stamp Duty due to increased purchase price but we also had in mind a price above that which we were prepared to go to IF we found the right property. Finally there was the all in, every penny we can afford value, well, it was nice looking at that sort of house for a while but realism kicks in and we decided we’d really rather have a nice safety net in case of future interest rate rises, surely they can’t stay this low for much longer, can they?
So with that in mind I set up a couple of searches on Rightmove, I mostly used their Draw-a-Search facility, I drew round the areas we would most like to live in and saved that with an upper price a bit above what we could afford (you never know, they might come down!lol) and I also drew a bigger area including areas we wouldn’t mind but probably wouldn’t be our first choice. After doing the searches up popped lots of different types of houses, with a few clicks you can remove types you are not interested in and save ones you like the look of to investigate further.
We knew that we wanted detached, 3 bedrooms & easy parking for us as well as friends/family who come to visit so as you can see to start with we weren’t very fussy about what we were looking for, the main thing was that I didn’t want Dave to have a big commute into work each day, I’ve done a 2 hour commute myself in the past and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy (well, OK, I might) but I really didn’t want Dave to have to do it!lol
So how did we narrow down the vast array of choices? By looking at the houses that were on offer is how but not just what they look like, really studying them and we were quite surprised by some of the things we found! After knocking off any houses that didn’t fit in with our criteria already we were still faced with many so we started making other choices and knocking houses out that way. First went any without drives, then ones that only had one toilet (well, it’d be nice to have one each!lol) and finally for this bit, out went any houses on or too near main roads/shopping areas. This really narrowed it down a lot for us and by now we had around 30 houses to have a look at but this still felt too many so we decided to investigate some more!
The first thing I did was to look at each house on Google maps and Streetview, this helped me rule a few out due to their location on the road they were in and one due to the huge lorry thundering past just as the streetview camera was!lol My next port of call was the Office for National Statistics, Neighbourhood Statistics page, just by entering the postcodes of each house we could look up general information about the area but there wasn’t anything too scary in any of the areas we looked at so that didn’t narrow it down any for us. Finally after the last few years we decided to look at the Environment Agency’s Flood risk maps and we did decide that we wouldn’t go for a house on a flood plain. We’ve seen the devastation that flooding causes on the news and would hate to go through that ourselves and this did actually knock quite a few houses from our lists.
The last method we used to get our list of houses to view was to drive by them a couple of times. Just to get a feel for the areas and how people live in them at different times of the day. I was surprised by a couple of them as they turned out the roads were a bit of a ‘rat run’ even though it didn’t look like it from the maps, sometimes you can’t rely on google I guess!lol So now we had a shortlist of around 10 houses, next we had to actually view some!
As most of you know, right now Dave and I are in the process of finding and buying our first house so I thought I’d write a few blog posts about what we’ve been through, what we’ve learned and what’s happening with us over the next few months as it is a very confusing time.
There’s loads of information out there about mortgages, deposits and what happens once you’ve found the house you want to buy but I didn’t find much out there about all that comes before this, all the different choices you have to make and facing that you’re probably going to have to compromise on some things. So how do you decide on what really is most important to you and your family and which items off of your house wish list you’re most prepared to compromise on? These were the sorts of things I was most interested in and finding helpful tools to help with making the right choices as buying a house for us is not just about buying bricks and mortar, we want to buy ourselves a home that we will be happy in for many years.
We made our first steps on this new road around 4 years ago. We took the decision that we were going to start seriously saving up for our deposit so out went purchasing things just because we wanted them and most nights/days out as well as thoughts of holidays but we knew it would only be temporary and that things wouldn’t be this way forever, just a few years. As our savings grew and house prices started to come down a little we started to think last year that maybe we were getting close to where we needed to be and so started looking at how much we could afford to spend on a house (there are many calculators out there on most banking websites which will help you find this out)
Once we had a number in mind we started looking on Rightmove (there are other sites out there I just prefer this one as it is the house listings site I consulted and I found it very easy to use) to see what houses were available in our range and the area’s that we would prefer, it became pretty obvious that we’d get a nice 3-bed semi for what we had. Sounds good I can hear most of you thinking but we’ve had a few ‘problem’ neighbours over the years here, from DIY regularly late at night to the full on shouting/screaming matches that seem to last hours/days so we looked to see how much more a detached house would be and were surprised that it would only really take another year of saving at the rates we had been to be able to have the sort of house we really wanted. So that’s what we decided to do, we kept on saving and looking at what properties came on to the market and tracked them through Property Bee (A Firefox Add-on) so we could see differences between initial asking prices and final selling prices which you can obtain from Zoopla by just entering the postcode!
And so this year we feel we have enough saved to really make the decision to actually buy somewhere and so now we’re here, we’ve started the process and now I’m going to share it with you all whether you like it or not!lol