Sunday, 8 April 2018

First time buyer house guide

Well they say it is the one of the most stressful things in life that you will do, I can testify to that having done it twice so far in my life. However stressful it is, it is also one of the most satisfying.

First confession, and judge away as you please - one of my career moves took me into the world of property, for little over 12 months I was an Estate Agent, It isn't something I shy away from admitting as I thoroughly enjoyed that job, it perfectly brought out my sales and customer service ability plus I thoroughly enjoyed nosing around other peoples houses. During that period though it did teach me some valuable experience and things to consider and do when going through the house buying process, as calling on Kirsty & Phil hasn't been an option.

When buying my first house, I was a young bachelor looking to get my foot on the ladder, this was difficult to find a house that fell within my budget, was the right area and wasn't going to cost an arm and a leg to decorate. The search must of been at least 18 months, but this is one of the biggest decisions you have to make in life so I wasn't about to rush in, I only viewed 5/6 houses during this time, I may be renowned for being fussy but I needed to be swept off my feet by bricks and mortar.

For a good 2 years I made sure I saved every penny that I could, I purchased items I knew I wanted when they were on offer as I had time on my side and although my Mum didn't thank me for it, I had her house to store it in.

It was important to understand what I could afford before making any commitments or falling in love with something I couldn't afford. I sought out a mortgage adviser who guided me through the various options available at this point it is important to have prepared

* As many payslips or earning evidence as you can provide - my profession pays me commission to it was important to show that this was regular as not all mortgage providers take this in to consideration.
* Regular expenses - its important to know what you need to spend your money on and what you can do without.
* Debt - any money you owe can play a bug factor in what you will be allowed to borrow, in particular car finance, mortgages can be heavily affected by car finance, they really don't like it, so I used some of my savings to pay off the balance to remove any debt i had, I couldn't believe the difference this made to the amount I could be lent.
* Deciding on type of mortgage - I opted for repayment as I didn't want to simply pay off the interest (this is almost like just paying off the minimum payment on a credit card) but for a much larger amount.
* Who you bank with - Some banks have great offers for their customers, ensure you ask to ensure you get the best deal you can.
* Avoid hefty fee's where you can, I have to be honest I was cheeky, the mortgage advisor presented me with many great options, however was going to charge me quite a large fee to do this, either by a one off payment or adding it to your mortgage. As I had been shown the places offering these deals,  I went direct and ended up getting an even better deal. So it was great to see what was out there but I wasn't about to lose precious funds.

Initially I thought I had found the one, it was in an ideal location, perfect size for me, a mostly modern interior, within my budget but needed an update to the kitchen and bathroom. Some negotiations ensued and an offer was accepted. Something was a miss though, I didn't have the tingle you  are meant to have when you find the house for you. At the time my office was working above the Estate agents I used to be at, I needed to pop down to discuss my mortgage and my old Manager happened to ask if I had seen the local paper, as she had seen someone that if I was a shaven headed thug convicted of burlgualry was my lookalike. she insisted I take it for my colleagues to decide (they didn't agree)

Now it may be down to the modern way of doing things, but during the 18 month house search I never once looked at the property section, only focusing on the popular websites such as rightmove and zoopla etc. But there it was a right little stunner , a little semi appeared - no no you you naughty lot, a two bedroom Semi detached modern house, in a private cul-de-sac, with stylish decor and a large conservatory. I headed straight to the website to see more pictures and I was in love, straight on to the phone I went to book a viewing the next day, I had such a sleepless night thinking about it. It didn't disappoint, I loved it, barely a thing needed doing to it and it was within budget.

This is where my Estate Agent experience came in, I made sure the sellers knew I liked it, there were no lies, but it was important they knew my interest as I knew I was one of 4 people viewing that day. upon leaving I rang the agents and put my offer in, but darn it they had already had 2 offers at full asking price and we were required to go to a best & final offer which basically means you all put your best offer in and the seller then gets to decide.

I had enquired to my rivals position, there was a cash buyer & first time buying couple. I asked straight away could I book to see it again the next day, this time with my Mum. The second viewing really was my chance to impress upon the sellers that I loved the house, I needed them to buy in to me not just the money on the table, I couldn't stretch my mortgage anymore and their price was at the top of my budget, so an inspired moment came to me, my offer came with a combination of property price offer, but also a cash amount to buy some of the items that they were prepared to sell.

It suited us both as they didn't need them and I couldn't afford to buying everything from new. 24 hours later I was presented with the news that they had accepted my offer, despite the cash buyer offering more money and being able to proceed quicker, the sellers really liked me and wanted their house to fall in to good hands. So a big tip is to to make sure the sellers like you.

Patience was needed after this, we agreed on a 12 week exchange and completion, but they had complications with their purchase, for me this didn't matter too much, my excitement had to be reigned in, but it allowed me time to keep saving for the items I needed upon moving in, which at this point I would also recommend for any electrical or big items you try and buy with a credit card as it will extend the warranty which is always a good thing.

It eventually took 5 months and I was in at the start of the Summer, its at this point I would advise keeping on top of your solicitors, I don't wish to berate a particular industry but I have found that they just go at their own pace and need constant prodding to chase things and equally to keep you in the loop of what is happening.

What I can say is that moment when you finally get the keys and open to door in to your own house is  a sensational feeling. There was nothing like having a first night building furniture with my Mum and my friends, having a few beers and the customary fish & chips out of the bag. Hopefully some of these tips and my experience have helped for anyone going through the house buying experience.

Next up will be my guide to buying a new build property along with the selling part too.



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