Truth: First Time Buyers (and First Time Sellers)

The Things They Don’t Tell You About Buying and Selling Houses – by someone who has bought and sold a house.

We bought our first house when we were 18. It was a brand new, two bedroom semi detached house with a two car drive. It was right by the sea, and it was perfect for us! We loved it, and it soon filled up and became a home.

We lived there for a year before we decided to move. We made the decision based on the fact that it was just such a long drive to work for me, to see our family, and just felt so out of the way. And so…

The property search commenced!

Here are a few things I learnt along the way. Whether you’re a first time buyer, or someone with little knowledge, here are a few things from a real person that I think are important to know…

Buying

You may be forced to believe, as a first time buyer, that it is more difficult to purchase a property. There are so many articles that tell you it’s getting ‘harder and harder for first time buyers to get on the property ladder’. In the grand scheme of things, this may be true, but don’t let it put you off trying.

These articles probably do more harm than good!

1) Mortgage Calculators – most banks and mortgage lenders allow you to do a free mortgage calculation. Don’t allow this to define you exactly, as there are so many other things that may impact how much you can borrow, including credit rating, so much so that we found we were allowed to borrow more than the calculators told us! It’s better to ring up and get some advice, ring the lenders directly and speak to them!

2) Work out what you can afford! There are so many more things that the mortgage lenders definitely do take into account when offering you a mortgage, but that you might not realise you need! Life insurance, council tax, house and contents insurance and so much more!

3) Put in an offer! Most, (but not all) houses are priced so that there is room for wriggling. Do it! Put in a lower offer. As a first time buyer, you are in a much more superior position than any other buyer. Just because a house says that it’s £200K, don’t offer that! People desire first time buyers to buy their homes, it means that they can move quickly into their new home, meaning there’s a shorter chain. Also, a mortgage company will not lend you a higher amount of money than the house is worth, they need to know they can get their money’s worth back if they need to! So keep it reasonable.

4) Be logical! When you’re buying, don’t just think about that initial urge that just because it’s available you want it now! Think about where you work, the neighbours, the street, and the access. Also, check if the property has ever been flooded!

5) Survey! Survey, survey, survey. Always. Put some extra money aside, after the deposit and solicitors fees, and pay for the building to be surveyed. They’ll check that the house is all okay to live in, that it’s not got any hidden unwanted gems and that it’s good to go.

Selling

Selling is all fun and games! Until it actually feels like it is a game, because people have brilliant poker-faces!

We’ve had a bit of a nightmare selling our old house. People drop out for all sorts of various reasons including not being able to afford it like they first may have thought! So keep your house on the market and keep accepting viewings but just be prepared…

1) People are cheeky! Contrary to point 3 of Buying, people come up with the craziest things. People will push you to your absolute limits when it comes to buying your house from you. People will go in, lower than they intend, in order to attempt to settle on a higher rate than their initial offer, in order for you to feel as though you’ve squeezed the most from them. Stand your ground, in a flexible way, but don’t be fixed on an exact figure.

2) People are flaky. They will change their mind, want to view, view again, be uninterested and then interested again all in the same day. It is an absolute emotional rollercoaster but stick with it. It will always be worth it.

3) People will nit-pick away at your house. That squeaky floorboard you didn’t notice before? They sure have! The way the sun doesn’t stay on your back garden all afternoon? They’ve noticed! And also the fact that your fridge is 7cm smaller than their fridge, so will theirs fit? True story, the buyers will notice everything, but these are very immaterial when it comes to value of your home so don’t let these minor

discrepancies make you feel like you have to accept less.

4) Unfortunately, people are not committed to buying your home until they sign on that dotted line (exchange of contracts). This means, that any money you spend, surveying the house you’re moving to, for example, may be lost because people can, and do pull out at the very last minute. Our buyers-buyer pulled out a week before completion date, meaning our buyer could no longer afford ours, meaning the whole thing collapsed. And people will do it, so just be mindful that you’re not spending money on unnecessary things before their pen touches the paper.

5) No matter whether you have 50 viewings or 5, you will get people who love and hate your house regardless. You will get people who go to a viewing just for the sake of it. And you will get people that pretend to be interested and aren’t. I learnt the hard way not to set my heart on things!

Regardless of buying or selling, just be sure to go in with an open mind and not to specific of an idea. Don’t be too specific with regards to what you want, as it’s not always feasible. View houses that you are interested in, even if they’re not what you initially intended to buy! And if you’re selling, just keep at it, amongst the viewers there will always be a buyer! And don’t set your heart on a house before you’ve got a buyer yourself! (I am very guilty of this)!

Either way, just be prepared for it not to go your way, so that when it does, you’re over the moon!

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