A change of heart and a change of Address

First the Big News.

IMG_0003That’s our sign right there.  We bought a flat!  The offer was accepted, the solicitors have been instructed and the mortgage is arranged.  So, why the hell did we buy a new(ish) flat when we had our hearts set on a fixer-upper long term house?  Pull up a chair, and I’ll tell you.

When we were deciding what we wanted to buy, we were so sure about the property we wanted.  The more properties we saw, the less appealing that idea was, and so we thought that perhaps the best idea was to buy a cheap, run-down old property and fix it up exactly how we wanted.  What a romantic notion *pause for sigh*.  Unfortunately, the more we looked into and planned and nearly bought a house like that, the more we realised that, you guys, it was a TERRIBLE idea.  We’re neither financially or (let’s face it) emotionally mature enough to deal with that kind of stress at the moment, and the idea of a cute little flat that we can totally make our own suddenly looked really appealing.

My new plan is to buy the little urban pad and make it awesome.  We’re still going to have the cool kitchen, the bare brick walls and the black internal doors, just smaller.  We’re going to build up some equity, and then in three or four years when we come to sell we’ll have plenty of capital behind us, ready to look for a bigger ‘keeper’ of a house.  That way we’ll be able to tackle it much better than we could now.  Crikey, listen to me.  I’ve turned into ‘that guy’. Right, from now on, nobody talk to me at parties.  Oh wait.

On the subject of emotional maturity, I am reminded of this XKCD…

Buying a house – Choices and Mortgages

So, an interesting double whammy of a post today.  Firstly, we got our agreement in principle (AIP) this morning! Yay! So happy about this.  For those out of the know, when you buy a house and apply for a mortgage, you need to get written confirmation from your lender that they will, in fact, front you the cash required for the house.  They put in writing the maximum they’ll give you, and then once you’ve had your offer accepted, they finalise the mortgage for that amount.  Once the estate agent has seen the AIP, you can start making offers on any lovely houses you might have seen.  Or UNlovely.  We’ll get to that later.

First, the mortgage.  In the UK, a deposit of 10% of the property value is pretty common, and these days pretty much all mortgage lenders will require a deposit of some sort before they’ll lend you any cash.  The amount of mortgage you can get depends on how much you earn as well as the size of your deposit.  We found ourselves in the same boat as many others, with “only” A 5% deposit, meaning the lender would have to provide a 95% loan against the house.  We have seen, in total, 9 mortgage brokers, as well as high street banks, all of whom said that we wouldn’t be able to get a 95% mortgage without A. Buying a new-build (shudder) or B. Having our lovely parents put 20% of the house value into a savings account with the lender, just in case we were naughty boys and girls and decided not to pay.  Not being in a position to do either of those things, we were disheartened for a while.  We made a decision, though, to take names and kick ass.

A lot of legwork and phone bashing later, and we have a 95% mortgage.  The moral of the story here is that even if you’re told that there are no 95%s out there, there most likely are, and your perseverance will be rewarded.  Get knocked down five times, get up six, et cetera, et cetera.

Onto the next point, lovely (or unlovely) houses.  We started looking at houses a long time ago, and we had a clear idea of what we wanted.  Three bedroom thirties property, walking distance of the in-laws, moderate garden, similar layout to the in-laws.  Well, we saw a lot of these, they’re pretty common around here.  The only real differences came from what work had been done, and what state of repair the properties were in.  We’d pretty much settled on a house that ticked all of these boxes, but then Mr. suggested that we go see this OTHER house.  Far away, 60s build, huge garden, different layout, in bad nick.  BAD. NICK.  No heating, condemned electrics, half a kitchen, 32 coats of paint over wallpaper.

We walked in and two things hit me.  The first was the smell, and the second was how perfect the house was.  I have a LOT of vision and I can see through decor, battle through smells and even envisage knocked through walls.  The house was huge, and in need of some love.  It was so good that I went back to see it again.  And again.  And again.  The moral of this part of the story is that you should always allow just a bit of room for surprises.

We’re going to make our first offer on the house tomorrow.  I’m very excited about this.

(TLDR: We got a mortgage and are going to make an offer on a house we like tomorrow.)