It is the expected step into adulthood, a life goals checkbox ticked, but do you really know what you’re getting into buying a house? Our Editor’s recent experience proved not always.
We previously reported Things that stop your house from selling if you’re already a homeowner but transitioning from renting to owning can take time and is not something to be hurried into. You will suddenly find yourself with mountains of paperwork (buy a good pen) and more decisions to make than you’d ever have liked. Speaking from personal experience, here are a few things that came as a surprise in the house buying process.
If you are aiming for a desirable area you won’t have as much time as is required to fully assess the house you are buying. As the housing market grows competitive, you have your first viewing to decide in many cases, leaving it longer runs risk of your dream house being snapped up by another party.
No matter how many fifteen minute views you can squeeze in before completion, there will still be discoverable truths that you never noticed once you move in. Our tip would be utilise family skills, if you are fortunate to have a builder, electrician or tradesman in the family do try and get them down for a second opinion.
Yes they are bound by regulation, however that doesn’t seem to stop a few rogue sales people from bending the truth and trying to heap pressure onto you when viewing. Our experience included a pressured “you better offer soon or it’ll be gone” push to being told the house actually bought wasn’t in a chain when in fact it was. Some agents are ruthless in their pursuit of a bit of commission and will tell you what you want to hear as a result. Speaking to the neighbours can glean the best information as they can tell you about past feuds and bigger work undertaken.
This might sound obvious, but many people will hugely underestimate how long it takes to strip out old (read:ugly) furniture and decor and replace with your own. Never before had we appreciated the skill and steady hand of a painter until trying to do a feature wall solo with zero past painting experience and a short supply of frog tape in tow. You can try to project manage as best you can but there will always be deadlines missed, espcially if your builder lets you down which is a possibility in many cases.
With the decorating comes planning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. That is until you realise that light will never be met. Try as you might to set a definitive list of tasks remaining, you will forever nit pick and decide to change things further into the process, however small and quick those changes may be. As you live in your home you will decide you don’t like where that light switch was moved to or find the cream carpet you selected wasn’t an ideal pick for messy visitors, it comes with the territory of owning a house but try to give yourselves periods to live and enjoy your home so you aren’t forever in the redecorating cycle.
Whilst finalising the conveyancing of your home may be top priority to you, your solicitor, bank and estate agents will have other ideas. Sans-mortgage advisor, you will have to play project manager (still worth it to save the extra costs) and chase all three aforementioned parties who seem incapable of picking up the phone to one another to move things along.
You will endure periods of heckling from your agents when they see the end in sight, but not before weeks of zero contact whilst they leave you in limbo wondering where you still have a house to buy. It’s all part of the fun to leave you guessing apparently.
If you move and have work to do you will need to be assertive in you choices, leaving no time to dwell and consider things. When the house you buy requires a mountain of updating, making those decisions will become an enduring task. From the smaller things, such as wall colours, to bigger decisions such as new kitchens or structural changes, actions will need to keep in motion in order to have a hope of meeting your desired moving date. Planning while you wait for completion is advised, to give you more time after to set up any work which may need to be planned.
The prior owner of our property took it upon themselves to come and check in with builders to “collect post” e.g. have a nosey round, conveniently when us new owners happened to be absent at work. It is natural the past owner may want to see what has become of their old bricks and mortar, but when they are on first name terms with the builder and are demanding the discarded washing machine you left in the garden back, something has to give. Be clear on terms of visit, ask that they inform you before coming to get post and don’t let them in if you don’t feel comfortable, especially if they are going to try pry back the light fittings you’ve temporarily removed as we experienced.
Got any tips on being a first time buyer? Let us know in the comments.