Posts filed under ‘Diary of a first-time buyer’

First-time buyer blog: It’s time to take a break from the home hunt

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.

Recently, things were looking up with our house hunting. We made the big decision of offering on a lovely house which was over the stamp duty threshold.  It was bigger than we needed, but has a lot of potential and could last us for a long time. The property had been on the market for eight weeks, had recently dropped in price and was being marketed through two agents. This vendor really wants to sell, we thought.

We were not discouraged when our first offer was rejected, as the vendor wanted to meet with us direct to negotiate a price. This was a new one for us, usually we are making offers direct through the agent and have never met the vendors.

On this occasion the vendor showed us around the house too, I got the impression the vendor liked the “hands on” approach to selling their house. We liked the vendor, the vendor liked us. We met the vendor a few days later, who put forward their price.  We went away and thought about it, went back to the mortgage advisor and was all set to make another offer, which would see us move up in price a lot more than the vendor would have to drop.

We booked another viewing, not the dreaded “third” viewing, but our second. It’s an awful lot of money we would be investing into this house so we wanted to be sure. We kept the agent up to speed and he knew how keen we were on the house.

The day before our second viewing the vendor took the house of the market. I was disappointed at the time, but now I’m relieved that it wasn’t further down the line and we didn’t end up being victims of the new menace facing potential home buyers – gazanging (where the vendor drops out of the sale after an offer has been accepted).

We have decided to stop looking for a house, for the time being. We’ll most probably start again in the new year. I was really hoping to finish this blog on a happy note, but it got to the point where it had consumed us as a couple. I’m quite a determined person, and after four months house-hunting I sometimes think I have failed a little bit.

We have learnt a lot, and that experience will hopefully hold us in good stead when we begin our search again. Fingers crossed….!

You can follow Emma via twitter at @polkadotcherry

October 7, 2011 at 2:09 PM 1 comment

First-time buyer blog: What every first-time buyer needs to know

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.

So what is it really like for a first-time buyer in the current market? Previous blogs of mine would have indicated it’s been a bit of a slow process.  I can honestly say that when we started looking for our first home I didn’t think it would take this long.

I have learned a valuable lesson. Or several, actually, which I thought I’d share with you. Here’s what finding your first home actually requires:

A lot of money Not only for the mortgage, but for everything else that a first-time buyer may need to pay for within the first month or so. To list a few there is the deposit, lender/booking Fee (depending on your mortgage package), valuation fee, legal/conveyancing fees, stamp duty (if applicable), removal costs, insurance, plus a bit more if you need white goods for the kitchen or any furniture. The lesson here is to budget realistically right at the beginning.

A lot of time Househunting does take up an awful lot of time, not just the search on such websites as FindaProperty, but the research into mortgages, liaising with estate agents, and the viewings themselves.

Patience and a positive attitude I won’t lie, there has been the odd Saturday evening after a full day of disappointing viewings where I have been pretty hacked-off with it all. The thought of another potential viewing which included the smell of cat food, children crying upstairs, leaking roofs or tiger print décor was enough to make me want to throw in the towel. However, this does take a long time, it is a huge decision and a positive attitude goes a very long way.

An achievable wish list What you will and won’t compromise on. It took us quite a few viewings to realise what was really important to us.

A good relationship with estate agents After all, they’ll be the ones who will call you when a new property comes in. Registering for their email alerts and having the occasional viewing with them won’t be enough. They really need to know what you would like, and need to be kept updated if your circumstances or budget changes.

A tip-top house hunting partner I’m fortunate enough to be sharing this experience with my partner, Dave. I appreciate that not all first-time buyers have someone to share the experience with – both physically and financially. But even just having someone there with you for the viewings – spotting things you may have missed, and laughing with you at the things you wish you had missed makes the whole experience a lot more fun.

Follow Emma on twitter @polkadotcherry

 

September 21, 2011 at 10:28 AM 1 comment

First-time buyer blog: Do we go over the 0% stamp duty threshold?

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.

For first time buyers, any property under £250,000 is exempt from stamp duty tax. This is only if you have never owned a house or flat anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. But it will only apply until March 24 2012.  Since we have begun our search for our first home, we have taken this for granted and restricted our budget to anything under £250,000.

It’s fair to say we have not been particularly successful in our home search to date. Yes, we were very cheeky in our first few offers – but the last property we saw really appealed to us. So we were a lot more realistic about our negotiations. Unfortunately, after talking to a roofer we were told that it needed a new roof. (as the majority of the Victorian terraces inReading do). Our final offer reflected the condition of the house. The last contact we had with the estate agent we were informed our offer was rejected, and the vendor had received a higher offer.

We felt quiet despondent at this point. We were very sorry to loose out on that last house, although we were not prepared to raise our final offer as we’d been told it needed at least £7,000 spending on it to improve the condition of the roof. As first time buyers, did we really want that hassle?

We are now looking at bigger properties, over the stamp duty threshold. Unfortunately, a good sized and good-condition property in Reading and surrounding areas is expensive. It’s an ideal location for commuters, as we are. Eventually, this will also be one of our biggest selling points when we come to move on.

We are weighing up the advantages and disadvantages of really stretching ourselves financially. So do we pay the 3% stamp duty tax for a property which is bigger, and is not “in need of modernisation”? We could be living in a larger property for longer, with more scope for improvements – this could mean less hassle and less expenditure in the long run with another potential move.  Or, do we take advantage of the 0% and use the money we would put towards stamp duty tax on a property which is cheaper, but needs some work doing to it?

Already this process has been quite stressful, it really does take up an awful lot of your time. We’re certainly in no rush to go through it all again any time soon.

September 9, 2011 at 11:40 AM Leave a comment

First-time buyer blog: What you need to know about getting on the ladder

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.

In my last blog I wrote about the art of negotiation (or rather the lack of it). We didn’t end up getting the property we liked for the value we felt reflected the condition. Eight weeks from going on the market, it is still there, but we’ve  moved on, as you often need to do in this game.

During the past few months house hunting (yes, we are beginning to wonder whether it really should take this long), it has been a huge learning curve. I’ve  never read so many books, blogs, articles; watched so many programmes; or responded to as many tweets relating to property before in my life.  It’s sucked me in. I’m constantly trying to find out as much information, advice and top-tips.

To make it a little easier for other first-time buyers who’ve just begun their house search, these are a few of my favourite reference points:

1. How to Buy Your First Home by Phil Spencer This has been a little gem. Brilliantly laid out, easy to understand, up to date and rammed full of top tips. Every now and then it’s great to refer back to refresh my memory.

2. Newspaper property sections One I always go back to is the Guardian, today the top story is “Mortgage rates hit record lows, but first time buyers remain squeezed”. It may not be the most uplifting article, but it does give you some indication of the current market.

3. Mortgage comparison websites You may already have your agreement in principle from one lender, but always worth keeping an eye on other options as you are continuing your search. Some lenders have come up with more attractive offers since we have been looking.

4. TV programmes I had watched quite a few Location, Location, Location episodes before we started our house search as I’m quite a fan. It’s entertaining, and sometimes I do wish I had Kirstie and Phil to call the agent with a bunch of cameras pointing at the phone to give added pressure. I got through a few episodes of Help! My House Is Falling Down before it scared me senseless, but it did hammer home the need to check drains and to pay good attention to your survey.

5. Twitter  This adds the humour into the proceedings with estate agents, buying agents, sellers and buyers all giving their perspective on the property market. It’s pointed me in the direction of some great blogs, and it’s incredibly interesting to read things from a seller’s and agent’s point of view.

Probably the most information and advice we get is from work colleagues, friends and family who’ve  been through the process before. Everyone has a different story to tell. It’s rather exhausting knowing that we’re at the beginning, with a long way to go….

Follow Emma on twitter @polkadotcherry.

August 22, 2011 at 11:44 AM 2 comments

First-time buyer blog: Is there an art to making an offer, asks Emma?

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.

My boyfriend and I have now been looking for our first home since the end of May. We have had a couple of weekends off, so all in all we have spent seven Saturday’s looking.

As we have gained more experience we are now a bit more selective. The first three or four weeks we looked at anything and everything. This really helped us decide on what we would and wouldn’t compromise on. It also gave us a good idea on how prices vary. For example, we will compromise on walking straight into the living room but won’t compromise on having the bathroom downstairs.

When we found a property we both liked, we booked a second viewing for later that week. The second viewing is a completely different experience. It’s all very practical, rather than the initial “oooh, what a lovely house”. Having a better look at the walls, floors, ceilings, the roofspace and the condition of the exterior.

We still liked the house, and agreed to make an offer. We had done a lot of research on selling prices of similar houses in the area, as well as on the same street.

On the day of making our first offer I actually felt quite nervous. Our initial offer was low, and to be completely honest I would have been very surprised indeed if it was accepted. Turns out, it wasn’t. So if I knew in the back of my mind that our offer wasn’t going to be expected, why did I feel so disappointed? We gave it more thought, and upped our offer. Rejected again. Oh.

We were entering into the unknown. I felt nervous, and didn’t particularly enjoy this negotiation stage (or rather, lack of it). Two weeks on and we are still not in any negotiation with the vendors.  In the meantime, we are continuing to look at other properties on the market.

To be continued….!

July 28, 2011 at 10:45 AM Leave a comment

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