Money Monday: Buying A House, What Have I Learnt? Tips From a First Time Buyer

The blogging hiatus is almost over because, tomorrow… I MOVE INTO MY NEW FLAT! In case you missed it, the last few Money Mondays have been about buying a house in London and I’ve actually been living out of a suitcase for the last two weeks – I even stopped blogging temporarily!

What have I learnt through it all? Read on dear friend because today is the penultimate in the Buying A House series…. Today, I bring you some life lessons and my First Time Buyer tips and my First Time Buyer Fails too! 

Google Is Your Friend.

If you’re like “I’m kinda thinking about buying a house but i know shit-all about this” – do not fear! I was in exactly the same position. I knew nothing about mortgages, leases etc but after a few Googles, I was an EXPERT.

Don’t go along with everything that the first estate agent or mortgage broker tells you – do some of your own research to make sure you get the best deal and maintain a level of sceptism.

Essentially: If the seller is saying something is easy to fix, why haven’t they already done it?

Make sure your solicitor is 100% all over it.

After all, you do pay them quite a lot of money! I’ve never had to deal with a solicitor before – I keep calling them ‘my lawyers’ lol – apparently there is a difference… ANYWAY, I just assumed everything was in hand but we had several last minute requirements which delayed our completion. (thus staying with friends for 2 weeks!)

Don’t be scared to double check where, when and what to provide or sign. It means you get it right first time. You know I actually filled in the date when signing our Mortgage Deed (ER-ERRR, apparently incorrect) and we had to send it off again. Seriously, what accountant doesn’t automatically put a date in the Date field…?!

And on that note…

Don’t Get Too Excited & End Your Rental Contract Too Soon

Aka First Time Buyer fail #1. I jumped the gun a bit when we had our offer completed and told our landlords we were moving out. Sounds totally irrational and silly of me I know, but we were told that the sellers had a place to go to and would move out at anytime. It turns out that this was basically not true but unfortunately nothing is for certain – anything can change until exchange! 

They really need to look at changing this – in some other countries accepting an offer is tantamount to signing the contract, it’s really nerve wracking to know that the sellers can pull out at anytime until you exchange (normally 6-8 weeks minimum!)

Get On The Rollercoaster.

Do be prepared for emotional ups and downs as you uncover more about the house. Has it got hidden damp? Is it actually within 100m of an electrical plant? Decide what is the deal breaker for you when in the early stages. 

After I got my homebuyers survey back, I freaked out. (Rollercoaster on the loose) I then texted my home owner friends and it turns out that everyone freaks out. Calm down, it’s normal! (Rollercoaster going back up again)  But seriously... SO MANY RED FLAGS! (Rollercoaster off on one again) 

I literally panicked and thought OMGOMG I’M BUYING A MINEFIELD. Stop and think. Drink a cup of tea. Then really take a step back and consider, is the problem structural or irreparable, or is it just a surface problem that you can fix with a little bit of cash?

Keep Up The Communication

Use the estate agent and mortgage broker as much as you can – they get commission once it all goes through so it’s in their best interests to move things along. 

Maintaining a good relationship with the EA is key for getting the full picture! For example, I told our EA we had no furniture yet and the sellers ended up leaving their sofa for us instead of getting rid of it. Nice one.

Finally – my biggest tip is just to Be A Badass!
Haha, not quite the statement you expect from a baby-faced Chinese accountant right but… don’t be scared of asking too many questions or not understanding what your lawyer (sorry, solicitor..) is telling you. 

You might not want to ‘bother’ or ‘annoy’ anyone but, at the end of the day, you’re the client aka, YOU’RE the bad baller that’s splashing several thousand G’s on this property – you can ask whatever questions you want, how often you want and whenever you want!

So there we go – my biggest life lessons from buying a flat in London. Hope they help you if you’re in the process, or thinking about it..!

PS– and if you get bored with the wait, try photoshopping all your existing furniture into the Estate Agent pictures… oh man, I NEED TO MOVE IN NOW, I’m actually going stir-crazy. Bring on moving day!

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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