How I used the Royal Wedding to buy my first home, says guest blogger Jack Swain
This is a legacy post from the findaproperty.com blog which is now maintained as an archive within the Zoopla blog. Links have been preserved.
While the rest of the world gazed adoringly at Kate and Wills, I was falling head over heels for the flat I’d spent a year searching for.
At a time when the market is slow, the story of how I bought my first flat shows you can still get a bargain, if you’re prepared to look for it hard – especially at a time when other people aren’t.
As a first-time buyer looking for a two-bed flat in central London between £350,000 and £400,000, there were precious few properties matching my search. Every time a hopeful prospect appeared in my inbox, it had been snapped up by the time I phoned the agent.
Not that my agents, desperate to sell, made things any easier. One helpfully suggested I could turn a cupboard under the stairs into a “roomy” bedroom. I suspect even Harry Potter would have turned his nose up at this.
Several demoralizing months into the process, I thought I would have to compromise. A born and bred central Londoner, I was reluctant to move out to Zone 3, but it looked like a real possibility. It was that, or give up on my dream of renting out the second bedroom.
And then the Royal Wedding arrived. While people took the week off work to string up their bunting, I sat alone checking my property searches. And lo and behold: a flat just off Ladbroke Grove, not five minutes from Portobello Road, with two good-sized double bedrooms and a balcony overlooking a canal, popped up on my screen. It had previously been on the market at £425,000 – out of my price range – but was now reduced to £400,000.
As I picked up the phone, that familiar sinking feeling set in; no way was this still on the market. It turns out my agent was the only one still in the office that weekend – everyone else had taken a holiday. He was clearly relieved to take my call, and delighted to announce that no one else had even noticed the price reduction.
Corny as it sounds, it was love at first sight. Not unlike meeting that special someone, it just felt right. My offer of £388,000, based on comparables in the same block of flats, was accepted immediately. Two months later I had the keys to the flat.
My advice: stay ahead of the curve by making sure you’re always first in line, and if you can, do it when everyone else is looking the other way. You’d go the extra mile to find your perfect partner, so why not do the same for your perfect property?