Archive | October, 2012

Buying a new home!

29 Oct

Buying a new home can be the most stressful time in your life and I have no idea how people did it before the internet existed. I have spent the past 25 years living in Bromley, first in Bromley South then buying a flat in Bromley North. The decision to start a family has meant our one bedroom flat is no longer suitable so its a house we need. Bromley is an area I would love to stay in however we cannot afford the type of house we want in this area.

Off road parking, 3 double bedrooms, garden, toilet both up and downstairs, dining room and anything extra would be a bonus. For this in Bromley we were looking at around half a million to get something that was not a tiny terraced thing that was neither pretty nor practical.

The hunt began!

The internet is a great resource to find info about new areas but always drive around any areas you consider first! They can have a very different feel in person. I have no idea of areas outside of Bromley so our search started off on http://www.commutefrom.com a brilliant resource that let us know areas with trains that went to London and how long the journey is. Next was http://www.rightmove.co.uk and their draw a map feature is great for leaving out areas that you don’t want or know are out of budget.

Off we went on a Saturday morning to Coxheath and Larkfield. Expect to see some sights when house hunting! We saw a house that had over 6 dogs in it, many many cats and in one bedroom there was a dog in a dress…we didn’t buy that house. A new development in Larkfield was also not for us having a nightmare parking area.

Week 2 and a new area. We found a lovely house and put our offer in. The estate agents had told the couple to expect more and they rejected our offer. We left it there as the house was over valued and we would not go higher. Do not be pressured to enter a bidding war by the estate agents, there will be other houses out there!

A weekend off as seeing 5 houses in a day is knackering with all the phone calls you have to make to arrange viewings and schedule the time.

Off to Godstone and a big no there after seeing the burnt out car down the road we were viewing on.

One more try and we headed to Crowborough. Bingo! Lovely area, house was perfect and had more than we wanted. Offer there and then with the acceptance at 6pm that night. Do not believe at this stage that the sale will take 4 weeks. It will take longer. If you are chain free then it should be a simple sale so sit back, relax and dream of how you will decorate your new home! I know that’s what I am doing.

A website I liked to ignore when searching was http://www.chavtown.co.uk if you go by them then you will have to move out of England.

http://www.nationrail.com is a great resource for finding train season ticket prices when weighing up what area to choose if it is a choice between cheap housing and expensive travel, or expensive housing and cheap travel.

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House Hunting – The selling side

26 Oct

Of the big steps in life as an adult I have bought my first home, got married and have recently moved onto the next step of selling and purchasing a new home.

When selling the thing to remember is estate agents can and will lie to you. Their aim is to earn the percentage on your property, not to get what is best for you. We bought our flat in 2007 at the highest price houses were for years. It was a risk as when an economy is so good there has to be a fall. Unfortunately it came sooner than we thought.

The first thing I can say from this experience is be careful when purchasing a flat. They may seem a cheaper option to buying a house but know that you are going into it and take into account management companies and service charges. If you look at the accounts for these don’t be surprised if you see payments made for things you have never seen done and the excuses you will hear from the management company. If you like with other people you can trust there is the option with enough of you on board to be rid of the management company and manage it all yourselves, it saves the fees but creates other complications.

Do not be surprised if when you have finally chosen an estate agent that your house does not sell straight away. If you are getting no viewings then the agent may have overestimated the price of your property. Check websites such as Zoopla to see what other similar properties have sold for. Take into account the state of your place and how it looks to outsiders. Is it all new, modern and attractive, or is there mould, an ageing kitchen and avocado green bathroom?

Be weary of estate agents that like to use the horrible pricing tactic of From £210k to £240k, I could name a few! This gives unreal expectations to both you the seller and the buyer. The top bracket is often higher than your home is worth, the bottom lower. You will only see the top price and think brilliant! The buyer will see the bottom price. Go into a sale knowing what it is worth and having in mind that most sellers will offer below your asking price. You can then ask them to meet you half way or tell them a flat out no. It is a buyers market currently so do not be surprised if you are getting people offering a good percentage lower than your asking price as there are other options out there if they are willing to wait, but don’t let this bully you into selling when you can stick it out for longer, there are other buyers out there.

Our flat eventually sold after three years of being on and off the market with several different agents. We  sold for £5k less than what we really wanted, and a total of £10k less than what we originally paid. This went in the face of what other flats in our block were selling for as one had sold for £15k more and £10k more, but at this point we just wanted to sell so accepted our offer. Luckily we are in a financial position through saving every month to be able to still afford to move and buy a new place, a thing I know a lot of other couples have been caught out by.

Once you have finally sold – Hurray! – be prepared to wait. The whole process that involves estate agent, your solicitors and the buyers solicitors can last a long time. When management companies are also involved this can increase the wait significantly. We are into our 9th week of waiting for contracts to be signed by the buyers. I have a friend trying to buy his first home and it has now been 6 months and they are still having trouble with the solicitors of the seller.

With a cash buyer you are lucky, if your buyer is in a chain this can also hold up the sale as it could rely on them selling their house before they have the money to buy yours. This is also good to keep in mind when you are purchasing.

I think the biggest thing to learn from all of this is to expect to wait and be patient. If the house in on for the correct amount and well presented you just need the right person to come through your door.