Hello everyone and welcome back!
I am sure most of you are aware by now, if you follow my social media, that Liam and I have just bought our first house together! Any of you who have previously bought a house/are in the process of buying know how much time everything takes to organise so my blog took the back seat. I also wanted to enjoy the time off with my parents before I moved out of my family home for the first time and get some much needed rest between completing my degree and starting my post as a newly qualified nurse.
In this blog post I will be sharing details of our experience of buying our first home but there will be a blog to follow about my experience so far as a newly qualified nurse!
Let’s start at the beginning.
I had my successful interview for my current job role back in November 2019. This job is two and half hours from home so it meant that Liam and I would have to move away from our home town. We had already been talking about renting vs buying as we were ready to leave the nest and move in together. We spent hours researching what would be best for both of us, what was achievable and, most importantly, what was affordable! After intensive research we found that our mortgage payments and bills combined would be cheaper for us than renting in the area we have moved to and we had already starting saving for a deposit with our Help to Buy ISAs.
We were recommended a financial advisor by my brother and sister-in-law who we consequently had meetings with to discuss mortgage options, insurances and deposits. The advisor was able to give us an estimated mortgage offer so we knew what price bracket we should be working towards.
Nothing happened between November 2019 and January 2020 except for Liam and I scrolling daily on Rightmove *other websites are available*! In February we decided to book a few viewings to get a feel for what we liked/disliked and we viewed three houses with my parents.
We really loved the first house we viewed. It was a Victorian terrace so it had a lot of character and needed a lot of work doing to it (something we wanted as we both love getting stuck into DIY). Unfortunately, we were too early to get an agreement in principle for the mortgage because that was reliant on an unconditional offer from my new employer which they could not give me until three months before my start date. In hindsight, I am so glad we didn’t buy the first house we saw! The next two houses were new builds and we ruled them out completely. In our opinion new builds are very expensive for what you get. The houses we viewed were smaller, they all looked the same and they didn’t have a lot of room for our personal touches! We wanted something that was a bit of a fixer upper and that had history and personality.
We decided to wait until June to start looking properly as by then I would have my unconditional job offer. As things never like to run smoothly, I didn’t receive my unconditional offer until July and we were also unable to view properties in June due to lockdown and being unable to travel so Liam and I attended virtual viewings. Virtual viewings are an experience in themselves! The estate agents very cleverly (or so they think!) don’t turn the camera to show the faults and really do a whistle stop tour. We also didn’t feel confident about buying a house we had never seen in person.
My final placement finished on a Friday in mid July and we booked three house viewings for the Saturday. An early start saw us at our first viewing and we were almost certain it was going to be the perfect house for us. It was within budget, near to the hospital and looked beautiful inside. One of the down sides about moving to a new area is that you don’t know which areas have a nice community feel or which areas you would rather avoid. We soon found that we wanted to avoid the area of this house and, although it was a beautiful house, we knew the location wasn’t for us. We were also disappointed by the size of the rooms which looked much larger on the wide-lens photos online! With this in mind we thought the second property of the day was going to be a complete no as this one looked even smaller online!
The second property was slightly out of the area we were originally looking in but it definitely felt more ‘homely’ being in a village rather than the town. Despite being slightly further away from the hospital and away from the town centre, it had a local shop and fantastic amenities nearby. The property looked very small from the outside though! When we viewed a new build back in February, the estate agent tried very hard to sell us a property that didn’t even have space in the lounge for a sofa so I worried this property was going to be a similar size! Liam went in ahead of me and I saw his face light up when he stepped into the lounge so I instantly knew we could fit a sofa in! We fell in love with this property. It is a Victorian property with period features – something that appeals to both of us, it is in need of renovating as there is some questionable DIY – something we are both keen on getting stuck into, and it was well under budget – bonus! Being out of the town centre you get a lot more house for your money so, despite looking small from the outside, this tardis-like house was actually bigger than we thought we could afford. This house is a three bed with a new kitchen/diner extension, separate lounge, high ceilings and a recently renovated bathroom. It has an enclosed garden and a HUGE shed at the rear of the property. At this stage we were just ten weeks away from the start date of my new job and luckily for us this house had no chain and the sellers wanted a quick sale. We left this house feeling very positive and we even had time to explore the village by foot.
The third and final viewing of the day was back in the town centre. This house was on a very busy street and just didn’t have the same feel to it as the last property we had viewed. It was completely open plan downstairs which wasn’t for us. We liked the idea of having a separate lounge/kitchen area. Upstairs the rooms were very small and pricewise this house just didn’t compare with property two.
You have probably guessed by now – we decided we wanted to put an offer in on property two. We were nervous that the house would go quickly as it had only been put on the market two days before we viewed it, it was in a prime location and we were the first viewers so we wanted to stop any other viewers! After months of research, no one actually tells you how to put an offer in and how easy it is to do! A quick call that consisted of “Hello, we would like to put an offer in of £…. on property two please” and a call back in ten minutes to accept our offer and that was it!
The following Monday we confirmed everything and got all of the paperwork sorted and the process of buying a house began! Luckily, I was off until my new job started so I was able to spend the first week or two answering emails and calls from the estate agent, our financial advisor and our solicitor. I am so happy that I had this time off – we definitely took a couple of weeks off our move in date by my quick responses to emails! Once all of the paperwork and legalities were confirmed there was a stand still period where nothing much seemed to happen on our part. We went for a second viewing and took some measurements to start buying furniture. We also noticed a lot more faults this time around. I think when we initially viewed the house we were so excited that we didn’t notice little details (even though my dad said to ‘think with your head and not your heart’)! We knew these things were fixable though so we didn’t mind. It is all part of the journey! We had already collected a lot of house things that were stacking up in our parent’s spare bedrooms but our weekends were filled with house shopping and preparing to move.
A couple of weeks away from the estimated move in date (19th September) I received a call to say that the sellers were stuck in a fixed mortgage and were we willing to move in under a licence. I had no idea what this meant! Ultimately, we would moved in after the exchange of contracts but we would not complete until their fixed mortgage had expired. Once this bump in the road was confirmed with everyone we were left arranging a move in date. Everyone told us that moving house/buying a house is stressful but we honestly hadn’t felt that way at all. Until this stage! I was only two weeks away from starting my job and it wasn’t looking good. Obviously, I was living too far away to commute before and after every shift and I didn’t want to push back my start date. After many, many, many phone calls and negotiations we all agreed a move in date just two days before my first day of my new job. Although not as ideal as we would have liked, at this stage we just wanted to be in! We were also lucky that the sale only took just under ten weeks as sometimes the process can take much longer.
The company Liam was working for very kindly lent us the van for the weekend and my Dad also hired a van to help us move our things in quickly. On the Friday evening it was a team effort to load up the vans ready for a early start and then we started our journey to our new home on Saturday 26th September! It was a very surreal experience going in to collect our keys (similarly to putting an offer in – it just seemed too easy!) and then opening our front door for the first time! The day was filled with cleaning and unloading the vans before finishing off with fish and chips and a much needed sleep!
By the end of the weekend we had pretty much finished unpacking so I had time to relax before starting my new job the next day! It all worked out perfectly!
We could not have done any of this without the support and help from our parents and we will never be able to thank them enough for all they have done for us. To our mums and dads – you are the BEST and we love you HEAPS!
As we move room by room renovating, I plan on sharing before and after pictures over on my Instagram account @staffnurseanna so keep an eye out on there if this is your cup of tea! I’m really keen on sharing more about our experience and our renovation process as Liam and I found reading other people’s experiences useful before we started our buying journey so please let me know if this is something you would be interested in and anything in particular you would like us to share.
I hope you managed to get to the end of this looooong blog post, are well and staying safe!