1. How did you find your home?
Property websites were still in their infancy in 2007, but we did use a mixture of Rightmove and the local estate agents. We spent around 8 months house hunting and looked at around 14 options.
We initially chose a few properties via Rightmove, etc. and arranged visits ourselves. Eventually we went to the local estate agent directly. The agent there advised we should consider visiting a few properties in one day, which she offered to arrange for us. She also showed us around each one of the properties personally. In all, we looked at about 4 or 5 properties, including some that we had overlooked. It was on this occasion that we were shown the house that we ended up buying. We had originally not even considered this house, but when we walked in, it felt right, and we could see ourselves living there straight away. We think that directly comparing several properties and looking at ‘wild card’ options from the estate agent was a really good way to get a feel for what was right for us.
2. How was your conveyancing process?
Our estate agent was part of a conveyancing network, so they were able to provide everything for us, which included the services of property lawyers. Essentially, call-centre legal advice! It made things a little easier as everything was done over the phone. However, it would have been nice to have dealt with an actual solicitor. Back then we did not look at finding our own solicitor, as we were a bit overwhelmed by the process and did not know how to go about it.
We were expecting this to be quite a clean process as there was no chain either way. Unfortunately, some concern from the conveyancers over the ownership of a small piece of land behind the house slowed the process down while they decided if it would cause us any problems. We didn’t really get a resolution to this, although they did allow the exchange to take place eventually. The delay caused by this issue was 6 weeks, and overall the process took 3 months.
3. How were exchange and completion?
As we were first time buyers and the house we were buying had no chain, the exchange and completion were easy. We had 2 weeks between the two and no delays.
4. How did the moving-in go?
While the purchase was going on, we both still lived with our parents.
The house was empty and ready for us to move into on the completion date. We moved in gradually over a period of two months. The first step was to start re-decorating. Once we had enough of the rooms sorted, we started buying things to put in the house, like furniture etc. We managed all this ourselves, using our own car or having items delivered.
Once we’d got somewhere to sleep, we moved in!
5. What do you wish you had known?
- What problems to look for in a property.
We were trying to limit our spending so only paid for the minimum required survey, which I believe at the time was a mortgage valuation. We did not realise then that the mortgage valuation actually does not come back regarding any flaws other than massive structural issues. We had problems with water ingress via the brickwork for several years after moving in, at its peak resulting in waterfalls running down the wall around windows at Christmas. This cost a fortune to diagnose and repair, where several builders installed pricey items such as new windows after misdiagnosing the reason for the problems. Ultimately, it came down to the whole house requiring re-pointing, where there were huge gaps in the mortar between the bricks. A more detailed survey may have revealed this sooner.
- Looking closer at the area.
Over the years, we have witnessed a negative change to our area since we first bought the house and we wish we had examined different areas more closely. Where we live, cuts to council funding has led to council-maintained areas being abandoned and successive creep of antisocial behaviour and trash flying around due to our close proximity to deprived areas. This includes threatening behaviour on cross bikes and criminal activity. One of our direct neighbours turned out to be on the antisocial side as well, which has caused many problems over the years. We wish we had looked closer at the area where we were going to live to avoid such issues.