Buying our first Victorian terraced Home
Buying a house can be a right pain. More than once we thought we had a done deal only for things to fall though. The task was also complicated by fussiness. My head said this is your first home, you won’t be here forever, just find something cheap and do it quickly. The heart said screw that, it’s all about curb appeal, period charm, high ceilings, open fire, and a big garden. The heart won.
Our decision to buy was lent an urgency by discovering my wife was pregnant. This gave us an eight month window. Here are notes from our experience.
Step 1: Picking an areaUnfortunately the plush Georgian villas surrounding our one-bedroom rented flat were beyond our means, so we needed to seek pastures new. We whittled down our shortlist to three areas of Bristol. The main considerations were affordability, ease of commute, ambience, local amenities and value for money.
Step 2: Scouring rightmoveI became, and remain, a rightmove addict, cyber-nosing my way around hundreds of properties, short-listing and setting up viewings.
Step 3: ViewingsWe viewed around 6 properties in each area and reccied the neighbourhoods for pubs, shops, parks etc. Visiting properties helped to clarify that a bigger place further out of town trumped a smaller house in the city centre. With hindsight this was a great shout. Once the baby arrived, the benefit having decent bars round the corner diminished substantially. Whereas having guest room, decent sized bathroom and garden has been a massive boon.
Step 4: Getting gazumpedHaving viewed several properties, we found a classic three-bed period terraced house and placed an offer. It was accepted and taken off the market. Two days later the estate agent called to say that a couple who had previously viewed the house had placed a higher offer, and the owners had ditched ours. Gazumped. We were royally pissed off by this at the time, but I much prefer the house we eventually bought.
Step 5: Finding our houseHaving had defeat snatched from the jaws of victory we were lamenting our progress. The baby bump was expanding, another fruitless day of viewings was drawing to a close, and we were hitting the gin (me more than my pregnant wife) when a final search threw up a promising option new to the market. We caught a final viewing that day.
Oh yes. Three big double bedrooms, two receptions, kitchen/diner, upstairs bathroom, large garden, shed, rear access, storage space, period charm, mid-terrace, quiet cul-de-sac, next to the cycle path, close to a high street and parks, easy access to the city centre. This was it.
We placed a ‘best and final’ offer that was £5k below the asking price. It had only been on the market for 24 hours but we knew (or at least were told) another offer was on the table. With this in mind I also dropped in that we were first-time buyers with a reasonable deposit, and that I had a heavily pregnant wife who didn’t want to mess about. The call came later that day. Success. Eat your heart out Phil Spencer.
Here are the brochure pics (expertly taken by the salesman to make every room look bigger than they are!)
Step 6: Mortgage, survey, paperworkI have two beads of advice here. First, consider an independent mortgage broker to find you the best deal possible. It saved us a load of effort and cost nothing – they get their piece of silver from the mortgage company once you purchase the product. Second, pester the hell out of everyone to ensure things get moved along – solicitors, the estate agent, the sellers’ solicitors and needs be, the sellers’ themselves. We did get a survey done, not the poshest, but enough to reassure us the house was not about to crumble. Given the size of my wife’s bulge it would’ve taken a pretty stinking survey to put us off.
Step 7: The bumpy road to victoryDays away from the planned exchange were told our sellers’ onward purchase had fallen through. This left us in a bind as we had run out of time. It was late October. The sellers’ said if we left our offer on the table they would try and find somewhere as quickly as possible. We viewed the house again, and we could see that they were as hacked off as us – they had already packed all their wordly possessions. So we agreed and to their credit, they found another house within a week or so. The deal when through and we were in.
We picked up the keys to our first home on 21st December. Baby Gregor arrived on 27th January.
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