MONEY MONDAY: How To Buy A Flat & Other Stories

Woweee, January is just flying by isn’t it? I can’t quite believe that we’re closer to February than New Year – the start of 2015 seemed like last week to me! 

I realised today that I haven’t blogged for a while, mainly because of work and also for exciting reasons… I’ve been busy hunting to buy my very first home! EXCITING REASON OR WHAT.

At first, I thought I would just mention it, but then I thought – why not share it with you?! It would make an excellent addition to my Money Monday series. My step by step adventure in buying a place…..

I’m not claiming I’m a flat-buying expert just yet – far from it in fact but there were just SO many questions I had when first thinking about buying a flat, it really put me off starting the search! So if I can help make it clearer for even just one of you then my job will be done!

And, as I move through the buying process and learn more things, I’ll have more posts for you! It’s kind of nice thinking that you’ll all be with me every step of the way – AWWW, HOW SOPPY. 

Things I Have Learnt So Far…

1. Sorting a mortgage actually happens quite early on in the process.

I always thought mortgages were sorted once you had found a nice house? However, in order to make sure you’re not completely barking up the wrong financial tree, most people speak to a mortgage advisor before they start seriously looking. 

Doing this early on confirms whether your budget is even achievable in the first place. Secondly, if you happen to stumble upon the house of your dreams within the first few viewings, you’ll be able to quite confidently put an offer forward which the seller will prefer to offers without any mortgage research behind.

2. It’s Surprisingly Quick And Easy To Get A Mortgage Agreement.

A mortgage in principle is confirmation of the mortgage you could reasonably expect to get. I thought I would have to go to the bank, on the weekend, EARLY on a saturday (aka – I thought it would be serious hasssle).

But no – one simple phone call to an independent mortgage advisor and BOOM, I had a mortgage in principle emailed to me with just 15 minutes of answering a couple of questions on the phone.

3. Your House Doesn’t Even Have To Be Built Yet.

Buying off-plan is increasingly popular – you basically pay for a house which is still under development and therefore can personalise the fittings and finishes in the house (granite top island counter in the kitchen? YES PLEASE)

Also – by buying the house now, you have another year to save for it and you also lock yourself in at a certain price, in case the value of the house rises in another year. 

4. 90-year Leases Ain’t That Long.

What is a lease?!? I thought I was buying this house?! So if you’re buying a flat, most likely you will be a Leaseholder as opposed to a FreeholderA Freeholder owns the land and is responsible for the maintenance, a Leaseholder pays an annual service charge to the Freeholder for the upkeep of the building etc.

When you buy a leasehold, it will tell you how many years are left on the lease. This could be anything from 50 to 199 years but the number of years affects the value of the house because the leaseholder needs to renew the lease eventually. Apparently it’s cheapest to do this on leases OVER 83 years – so even a 90 year lease, as old as it sounds, only gives you 7 years before you need to renew.

4. Beware Of Hidden Costs!

It’s not just about the price of the place and the mortage arrangement. A lovely flat in a block with a concierge and a gym is AMAZING – but it will come with a much higher annual service charge, of which you have little control of. (They tend to just get more expensive every year)

Also, once you’ve made the offer – there will be all sorts of costs like stamp duty, surveyors fees, valuation fees, legal fees — I’ve not had to go through these yet but I’m sure there will be a WHOLE Money Monday post on these badboys!

….And I genuinely can’t wait! Me and Mr FV have seen 5 places so far and I’ve pretty much fallen in love with them all – TIP 5 – DONT GET EMOTIONALLY INVESTED TOO SOON…

Who has house-hunting tips to share?

What are your biggest financial questions when it comes to buying a house?

By Zoe Dubs

Zoe Bayliss Wong
Zoe Bayliss Wong

Zoe is a Forbes ’30 under 30′ finance pro, style writer, presenter and panellist, working for a fashion startup and trying to live that best life in the most IRL way possible.

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1 Comment

  1. Ged Humphreys-de Meyer
    January 20, 2015 / 8:03 am

    Buying a house is exciting but also stressful! Having said that, it's the most amazing feeling the day you walk in and can truly say "This is all mine!" 🙂 Good luck and I hope you find your dream home soon!