Buying a house is a scary thing. It’s the most expensive purchase you will probably make in your life. For those of you that are thinking about it and have no idea where to start, here’s my experience.
Before finding your new home.
We knew we wanted to move house this summer two years ago when we moved into our old house. It was always a starter home – a small two-bedroomed semi-detached house in an area we knew we didn’t want to stay in. It was a ‘get your foot on a property ladder’ type of place.
Since then, we’ve been looking at different areas and how much things cost to get a realistic idea of what we can get for our money.
It’s important to look at houses in the areas you want to live in. Some can be more expensive than others so you need to decide what you are willing to pay for a nicer area. We had a few areas in mind and knew the average price for a three bed, four bed, with garage etc.
The next step was to find out how much we could afford. We got in contact with our mortgage advisor, sent across some financial information and he told us what we would be able to lend.
When we first started looking, we weren’t sure if we were going to get an old house that needed work or get a brand new house. We decided we wanted a new build as we wanted to enjoy our free time doing other things rather than working on the house for the next year or so. My boyfriends Mum has just re-done and old cottage in Whitby and although it is beautiful now, it was a lot of work to get it where it was.
We researched new builds in the area and visited some show homes.
I had seen a house on Rightmove than I fell in love with. We found out that it was a new build development so went to see it.
We went into the sales office and spoke to the sales rep. We spoke about our situation and we had seen one we liked. He explained the process to us, that we could reserve it for a week without putting any money down while we checked affordability, had our house valued for part exchange and decided.
No homes were built yet, but there was a show home that was basically the same as the house we wanted 10 miles down the A64, so we went to visit.
It was beautiful.
Then the stress of buying a new home started. We were desperate for the house and wanted it confirmed. We wanted things signed so we knew it was our home. That’s the most frustrating part of the process of buying a home – the fear of something going wrong until you exchange contracts.
Reserving our home.
We had reserved our home for a week, without paying anything. During this time we confirmed our affordability and got a mortgage decision in principle. Persimmon sent three estate agents around to value our house and we had our own come around.
Each estate agent gave a different valuation. We were offered less than what we paid for it. After saying that this meant we couldn’t afford the house, we were offered incentives. They paid all our stamp duty, upgraded our carpets, flooring and kitchen, turfed the garden and added a tap.
We decided to go part exchange – the main reason for this was it meant there wasn’t any stress in regards to selling our old house.
If we didn’t go part exchange, we could have gotten a bit more for our house. But we also would have had to pay estate agent fees, have a buyer for our house, risk it falling through and we just didn’t want that stress.
Instead, we took a bit less for it but after working out the estate agent fees plus the incentives, we probably broke even.
They took care of everything and quickly found a buyer for our house.
Another major positive of going part exchange is that we didn’t have to worry about when we moved. We kept the house until the new house was ready. Simple as that. There was no worry whether we would have to move out before it was ready.
We also applied for a licence to occupy which was granted. This meant that when we completed on Friday, we had until Monday to give the keys back to the old property. This was a great help as it meant we could our main move on Saturday and clean the old house on Sunday.
Getting a mortgage offer.
This part was stressful, it started out really optimistic and when we started to narrow down banks that would lend to us, we struggled to find a lender that would lend us 90% of the mortgage with a new build. We also had to pick between a 2-year, 3-year and 5-year fixed term. We decided to go with a 5-year fixed term as it’s possible interest rates may fluctuate because of Brexit, so in 2 years we might struggle to get a good rate. You can’t predict fluctuations, but at least we know what our mortgage will be for the next 5 years.
Getting our mortgage offer was a painful wait of almost 4 weeks as we had been selected for a random audit where they had to do further checks, including a check with our employers.
We finally got the offer and it felt great!
This was the hardest part. Our solicitors were slow at replying and we often had to email a few times about the same thing. We were given an estimated completion date as the end of May and requested the 28th May as our completion date. We exchanged contracts about a week before so were just waiting. We were then told it had been delayed slightly because the street wasn’t yet safe for us to access, even though the house was done. We would be told it would be before the end of June.
On the 31st of May, while sat in a bar in Manchester before seeing the Spice Girls live in concert, we got the email and the call to say everything was ready and we were given the notice to move on the 14th June. We agreed to this date, got our licence to occupy approved and could finally breathe.
The day finally came around and I got up, went to the gym and then waited for the phone call. At 12:04 pm, I got the call to say everything had gone through and I could go and collect my keys.
Having the keys in my hands was an amazing feeling. It felt like we had done it and nothing would get in our way now. Everything was in our control of moving our things over, not waiting for other people.
The day of the move went pretty quickly, too. We had help from family and 90% of our things were packed in the van by midday. It wasn’t raining either which was lucky as it had rained all week.
When we finished unloading the van and sat down in the kitchen at around 5 pm, the heavens opened and it chucked it down!
We have a month to fully snag our house. All new builds will have some problems. It’s unrealistic to expect everything to be perfect. We had a few minor things such as:
- Bathroom lock didn’t work
- Glue on the outside door
- Hinge coming off on a door
- Screw exposed in the shower
- Mark on the carpet
- Chip on a window handle
We reported it on Monday and everything was fixed by Thursday.
Persimmons have some bad press, but I feel like we’ve been treated really well. We love our house, things were fixed and we have been looked after. I’m confident that if other issues arise, they’ll be just as prompt in fixing them.