It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years, but it just never seemed right, or possible.
By “right”, I mean, I never felt settled enough in one place to commit the next 20 years to living there. I’ve always been a bit of a loose canon when it comes to relocating, from upping sticks and going to University in Aberystwyth, then moving back Norwich, then moving to Cardiff for work, then back to Norwich, then up to Liverpool…then back to Norwich, then back to Liverpool again most recently. It just didn’t seem logical to me that I should buy bricks and mortar. I guess you could say it was my escape mechanism, I could get a change of scenery when I felt I needed it, start a new chapter and all that.
And by “possible”, I mean, I never thought I’d be able to get a mortgage. It’s always seen as this big black cloud of unlikeliness for first time buyers, and I guess the fear of actually applying got the better of me. I’d heard nightmare stories of friends having to fish around for 10 years worth of payslips and so on, and it just seemed like such a hassle.
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But then, I met Ashleigh, and I no longer had that urge to avoid commitment to a single place. I mean, granted, we moved to Liverpool after only being together a handful of months, but it was one of the best moves we did. Ash was even lucky enough to get a job with the football club too, so we really were with each other 24/7! We loved our life in Liverpool, the city, the people, the work. It was fantastic. And then we found out we were expecting Grayson, and things really changed.
The thought of renting and not having that security kept me awake at night. We knew we wanted to be closer to our families over in the east, so we made the decision to look for houses, to buy, not rent. I got a couple of conversations going with mortgage brokers, but it became apparent that they were, in the most, only looking to give you the best deal for their commission. And I’m not about that.
I went to my bank, a choice that I know probably cost me more in terms of rates, but I can assure you, it was the best decision I made during the whole process.
I had three meetings with my mortgage advisor, who gave me all my options, talked me through them, and knew everything about me financially already, so no need to provide endless proof of things. I literally left after my first meeting with an approval letter, an amount, and a rough timeline of what to expect.
We started hunting – it wasn’t easy, being 300 miles away from the place you want to live in, and having to plan your estate agent viewings for one weekend, with a new born. It was one of the most stressful parts of the whole event – estate agents are utterly useless at the best of times. Anyway, we arranged viewings for a few houses, and headed back east to view them.
We’d given all the agents clear and specific outlines. Our budget, our requirements, we mentioned that we had a new born and didn’t want to waste time viewing. So you can imagine how annoying it was to get bombarded with phone calls for “a 5 bedroom house that can be converted to a bedsit” or “an amazing opportunity to renovate the entire property” – also known as “an utter shitbox but we’re chancing it with you being eager first time buyers with money to burn”.
After filtering out the crap, we set out to our viewings. The 2nd house we viewed, just felt right. It wasn’t a new build, far from it (it’s over 100 years old), but something about it just clicked. It was in budget, had recently been decorated, and had everything we needed. Coupled with it being empty already, it really did tick the boxes. We knew we’d have to do some work on it to make it our home, but in terms of moving in, it was ideal. So we put an offer in, which was rejected (not that the estate agents bothered to tell us, I had to chase them….something we had to do a HUGE amount of throughout the duration). Anyway, after some back-and-forth, our offer was accepted, and we got the wheels in motion to buy our first house!
I could now spend the next 10 paragraphs talking about how stressful and utterly useless our estate agent and solicitors were, but I’ll let you read the google review I left for them. Left hand didn’t talk to right hand, and our conveyancer clearly was missing something in her brain, so much so that she sent us a checklist of documents to sign and return to them, but neglected to put the most important document in the pack of documents, the mortgage deeds. I mean, if you can’t even get that right, what hope is there!?) Eventually, I just lost my shit with them. It’s amazing how quickly people will work to get things done when you call them daily to check on them. They don’t like it, but if we hadn’t have pushed, we’d have probably still been waiting now.
We’ve been in our family home for 6 months now – we’ve redecorated every room (some more than once!), had new windows fitted, new floors, we’ve really invested a lot of time and money in to making it our own. It’s time for a break now in the winter, but as soon as the weather gets better we want to get the garden (which is very small, the benefit of living 5 minutes walk from the beach) in to some kind of usable state – at the moment its a dumping ground for all the DIY jobs we’ve done. We’ve just had our first Christmas in our house, as a family of 3, and it was perfect in every way 🙂
I guess I should give some kind of take away points from this post, so here’s some tips for other first time buyers….
- Talk to mortgage advisors – face to face if possible. Research your rates, understand the terms, ask questions. Don’t always assume that the “cheapest” is the best deal – in many cases, it really wasn’t
- Understand the process – there’s a lot of waiting to be done, but don’t be afraid to call your solicitor or agent for an update. I’m sure I was that annoying chap calling all the time, but if anything it made them get things done so they didn’t have to hear from me again
- Be brave – yes it’s a huge commitment, but it’s not as scary as people may have you believe, trust me
- Don’t over do it – we took on a huge amount of work in the first few weeks, late nights decorating. It was fun, but it really took its toll on us physically. Plan your projects, prioritise them based on how important they are to your quality of life in that house
- Enjoy it – once you get those keys, it’s *your* home, to do what you please with it. We didn’t hesitate with getting stuck in to things (some through necessity, some through me not being able to sit still and wait for things!)