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We’re buying a house!

Some-how we’ve navigated the quagmire of housing options, unravelled the tangled knot of estate agent ‘truths’, avoided injury / illness from some of the houses we’ve seen and eventually found something that we both like, in our price range!

Seriously, I’d like to take this moment to thank firstly the home owners whose houses will probably be on the market for quite some time to come. A few come bubbling immediately to mind. The one where the whole family was sitting in the living room, so we went upstairs. Past the underwear left out to dry on the dust laden radiators. Only to see a small room, luminous pink room and a master en-suite that we couldn’t even get into. Really, there were two double beds crammed into the room, which meant that the door couldn’t open properly. And to actually get into the room you’d have to climb onto and over the bed(s). We didn’t stay long in that house and we definitely didn’t keep the information sheet that the agent gave us. Instead we wished him good luck. The only thing that that house had going for it was that it was over the road from a great little booze shop.

The second house that I just have to mention is a three-bed on a pretty well-known road in the area. Let’s just say that this house needs A LOT of work. The structure, internally and externally needs both finishing and doing! I don’t think the kitchen floor has ever even seen a layer of any sort of screed. Going upstairs was an absolute treat. Having briefly (it wasn’t a big house) seen the downstairs, the agent told me to venture up. To just go ahead and have a good look around. Well there was an empty terrarium on the landing and a bedroom door with a large STOP, do not enter sign. And in that moment, it just felt like a house that would home a snake. For anyone who doesn’t know I AM PETRIFIED OF SNAKES!

The agent was immediately summoned upstairs to thoroughly inspect every orifice and crack of this dilapidated building for any sign of snakes. He found none. So, I gingerly peeked into each of the bedrooms and the excuse for a bathroom. Needless to say, I couldn’t get out of there quick enough. It always surprises me how people who are trying to sell their house can’t be bothered to clean it or attempt to put it in its best light! To make this story even better the agent (who was late for the appointment) told me that there was an offer on the property (which was, at that point on the market for £475k) the offer was for £460k. I told him to tell the owners of the property to take that offer. I was pretty adamant about that. Yet strangely, for some reason they didn’t and then the property got reduced to £435k… hmmm Dear Agent, why do you think nobody ever believes you? Do you think that I just look at your outdated website? Or do you think that like any normal person I’ve scoured Rightmove and have set up an alert system so that I know exactly what’s going on in the area?!?

But enough of the ranting.

Throughout the whole process we prided ourselves on the fact that we didn’t need to move. That we weren’t in a rush and that we could take our sweet time to find our ‘for-now-forever’ home. That was until we found one. Then like everyone who has gotten used to Amazon and their one day or even same day delivery, we wanted to move in ASAP!

So, we picked a date: 01.12.2017 and decided that that was the date we wanted. Well, let’s be honest, the date we would be patient until. Okay, that I could be patient for. And then we would move in to our new home. Conveniently the first is a Friday, so we could organise the move to take place over the weekend. Ideal.

What we hadn’t fathomed is how we’d need to get ALL of the information to everyone who required it by yesterday in order to facilitate this. Information that we didn’t even know we’d need!

So, to anyone who is looking to buy a house, here is my advice so far… am sure that there will be more ‘learnings’ along the way:

Look around for a mortgage & mortgage company. Do your research so that you know what is out there. Use comparison sites, but also go directly to the bank’s websites as we found a better deal there. (We have also opted for a 5 year fixed rate, so we know exactly where we stand for the first 5 years!) Do this before and continually while you’re looking for a property. Then speak to your chosen mortgage provider. Know what you’ve got to spend. But don’t end the conversation there (even if they want to). Also find out EXACTLY what documents you’ll need. If you’ve inherited cash you’ll need to prove that it hasn’t been through the washing machine – you’ll need documents to trace that financial stream (or river) to its source! You’ll need to provide all of these documents before you can apply for your mortgage (not just your pay slips, bank statements and proof of address). Talk your lender through how you think the process will go, then let them realign you! Keep a record of everything, both a printed version and an online file that are easy to access as and when you need them. Do your research and find a local surveyor. Decide which solicitors you're going to use. Contact them and find out what documents you'll need to provide them with when you do instruct them. And chose ones that won't make you pay if the sale doesn't complete. And finally, decide how you want to own the house, joint owners, tenants in common.

Finally good luck. At the time of writing this we were 5 days into our purchasing process (now 7) yet it feels like a month. We’ve instructed solicitors, given them all of the documents they’ll need. Found a local surveyor, in case we should need him. And chosen a mortgage, been approved in principal (I think that’s the right term) booked an appointment to get the mortgage confirmed, even though it’s at an inconvenient time in an inconvenient location, we were lucky to get it. There isn’t another in a 20 mile radius of London for the next 3 weeks! We know, we checked.

I’m sure there are going to be several more days of insane stress levels throughout this process (one way to pack lighter is to drink all the wine). And although I REALLY hope there aren’t, there could be ‘great’ little expensive hidden surprises, just waiting to unveil themselves at an inconvenient moment in time. But when we’ve moved all our bits and pieces in and we get to put up our (large) Christmas tree it will all be worth it… even if we have to put the tree up outside the front of the house… opposite the front door and huddle around it in a lost-Christmas-caroller-of-fashion because the final exchange hasn’t quite happened yet! At least we don’t have a chain!

Lucky

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