Help Me, I'm Buying a House!

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I bought a 1-bedroom leasehold apartment in a lovely part of Birmingham close to work and only a 10 minute drive into the city. I was a first time buyer forced into buying due to problems with a rented flat that had flooded within my first month of being there. The landlords were so slow in sorting the problem, I’d been left homeless and renting had been much more expensive than buying would be. So I decided the only way to having a bit more security was to buy. I had never imagined I would be buying on my own, so I was a little scared at taking on the sole responsibility of a mortgage. With hindsight, it’s the best thing I ever did and it’s worked out fine. I wish I hadn’t been so hesitant and had done it years earlier!

1. How did you find your home?

By accident! I had a day off work to deal with the drama of the flooded rented flat and went for a longer than usual walk to clear my head. I saw a sign for a new development that had a couple of 1 bedroom flats within my budget. Luckily the sales office was open, I viewed the flats available and I instantly fell in love with a grade 2 listed apartment in the location I always wanted to live in! I had seen a few apartments previously and this one pretty much ticked all the boxes as it was newly refurbished, but had lots of character and quirks. It was also close to several parks and walking distance into Moseley village. It really felt like fate had drawn me to the apartment. I spent that same evening thinking about it and it just felt right so I put in an offer the next day, which was accepted. It was at that point the all the real ‘fun’ started!
Despite meeting all affordability criteria for many mortgage lenders, because the development was new with high eco credentials and there was very little lending history, it meant that all buyers were finding it difficult to secure a mortgage. I had been accepted for a decision in principle with the Halifax but after 2 months they decided they were not going to lend on the development. So I lost a lot of time and had to start all over again, but I found a better deal with Nationwide which actually saved me a decent amount of interest!

2. How was your conveyancing process?

My conveyancer was brilliant, I dealt with her directly and was in constant phone and email contact. She was amazing at keeping in touch and informing me of all the progress and challenges every step of the way. I’d definitely recommend paying a bit extra to avoid the conveyancing warehouses and call centres. I worked for a conveyancing warehouse for 6 months after university so saw the benefits and peace of mind of dealing with one real person. It should have been a straight forward process as there was no chain involved. However, getting to exchange and completion from the first viewing took almost 6 months: 2 months with the mortgage delays and the rest to do with leasehold issues.

3. How were exchange and completion?

As I was homeless during this time, commuting 80 miles to work from my Mum’s, staying in hotels and couch surfing when the money ran out, I opted for a simultaneous exchange and completion which worked perfectly for me.

4. How did the moving-in go?

I’d moved myself 3 times in less than 6 months – from a house share to the rented flat, the rented flat to storage then from storage to my own little sanctuary. By that time I had moving down to a fine art and the final time some help from my younger brother as well.

5. What do you wish you had known?

  • Mortgage research.
    Not being afraid of doing your own mortgage research. I started off with a broker but found a much better deal going to the lender direct. Also, with Nationwide if I’d opened a bank account 3 months previously I would have also received preferential rates – research the impact of customer rates and sign up as a customer in advance so that when you are ready to buy you can make the most of the deals lenders have available.
  • Mortgage back-up.
    I wish I had progressed another mortgage option so that I had a back-up ready to go!
  • Being less hesitant to buy.
    Finally, I really do wish I had bought earlier. With hindsight, I could have skipped moving into a rented flat and all the problems and costs that came with it by looking for somewhere to buy. For me, it took the hassle of rental to commit to buying. Now that I have bought, I’ve got a foot on the property ladder, am building up capital and most importantly the peace of mind of having my own place and that is priceless!

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