Help Me, I'm Buying a House!

Stories - Read the Full Story


My partner and I felt like we were looking for the impossible. After all, we wanted a 3 bedroom house, possibly semi detached, possibly 1930s, definitely with a driveway, a garage and having a garden was a must. We had a limited budget for all we wished for. Hence, it took us a while to find our forever home! We persevered... and eventually found exactly what we wanted. Although needless to say, we had to make a few compromises: firstly on the location, secondly on the state of the property. Eventually we settled on a 4 bedroom 1930s semi-detached house that needed a lot of decorating and renovating a few miles away from our preferred location.

1. How did you find your home?

Finding our forever home was an exciting but challenging process, we must have visited around 30 properties within a 6 months period. At the time, it was 2017, houses within our budget were selling like hot cakes and I found myself a couple of times having to join group viewings. I could not believe it when I went to see a house in Selly Oak and was told by the estate agent there were 30 people viewing that house on just that day!! I did spend 30 minutes every day searching the net and also had email alerts set up with the major online estate agents. Twice, we did find our nearly perfect forever homes but we were outbid. That is when I started looking into less popular websites that only advertised online, some I never even heard of. But it did pay off eventually and that is how we found our forever home, in case you need to know that was via

2. How was your conveyancing process?

I did go for a very reputable conveyancing firm and that was disappointing. I was receiving letters in the post referencing to documents that were not included and there was a major hiccup right at the end of the process.
I had no regular contact unless I was the one proactively chasing them. Being new to the process, I always had to ask for clarification. I wished they would have been a little bit more sympathetic towards first time buyers :-). Most of my dealings were with the paralegal secretary rather than the solicitor assigned to my purchase. This paralegal seemed very disorganised – once, she could not locate some of my papers and I had to re-submit them all. She also never seemed to have any patience nor time to review my questions whenever I called her. On the other hand, I did manage to speak to my solicitor once and she was actually very professional and happy to explain the process in details. I think for us it was mostly the paralegal that made the whole experience disappointing.

3. How were exchange and completion?

Ultimately, the exchange and completion process was quite stressful. This was mainly due to the fact that at 4PM on the day before the exchange, I was advised by a panicky paralegal secretary from the conveyancing firm that £10,000 were missing and were not included in the mortgage fund transfer. I was also told that I had to provide the missing amount asap!! I contacted the bank and was assured that the whole amount was transferred to the conveyancing firm. When I called the firm again and re-iterated that the full amount was transferred, only then the secretary dug deeper and eventually realised she ‘misread’ what was noted on the transfer document. Needless to say, I was not impressed.

4. How did the moving-in go?

We did not move in straight away, we still kept the house we rented for a further month, we wanted to get a few rooms painted before moving in and also install a new boiler, so we moved stuff in gradually. It was tiring as every weekend was spent packing and moving bits and pieces but worth it as we did not have to sleep with the dust and dirt 🙂

5. What do you wish you had known?

  • Negotiate the price.
    Retrospectively, we should have haggled a bit on the property price. We did offer the asking price for the property on the basis that there were some minor works that needed carrying out and that the vendor was going to undertake these. We did not verify this prior to the exchange of contracts, and we should have, or at least, we should have kept a close leash on progress and asked for updates during the process. In the end, the vendor did not carry out any of the promised works and we had to do them ourselves at our own cost. We in fact loved the house so much we let a few things slip.
  • Manage your conveyancer / solicitor.
    I would definitely advise to do your research and always be one step ahead when dealing with conveyancing firms, they are not proactive at all and you are the one who needs to ask the questions all the time and double check everything!
  • Try out online estate agents.
    I would also give the smaller online estate agents a go and not rely solely on the mainstream ones, you might find a few hidden gems 🙂

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