Buying my First Home | The Process

I’m sorry that all my recent posts are all about saving, finding and buying a house but it’s pretty much been a huge focus and priority in my life for the past year, however it is also something that I’m really excited about and proud of, so I want to share and document my experience in hopes that it may help someone else but mainly because I’m still pretty hyped about the whole thing!

This is also a very long post, a lot happened during our mortgage process.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, we finished saving in October 2019, we did start looking at houses way before to get an idea of what we wanted and find out what we didn’t like but we also had a small amount of savings at this point and we were considering buying a house below our budget, although we decided against that when we couldn’t find a house that was perfect for us.

When we first started looking I thought we could only put a 5% deposit down on a new build with the help to buy scheme, so we only looked at new builds such as Gleeson and Avant Homes, they were nice but they were all kind of bland and lacked personality, in my personal opinion, by the way, mine and my partners taste is vintage/antique, artsy and I love dead things (taxidermy, skulls, horns) so as you can image a very pristine and new home wasn’t really our vibe, but we wasn’t in a position to put a 10% deposit down as we were eager to get out of renting, so we felt like this was our only choice, it wasn’t until we opened our joint savings account and was encouraged to see their mortgage advisor that we learnt that we could put 5% on any house (I don’t think all mortgage lenders do this but many do offer this)
GAME CHANGER, we then completely abandoned the idea of a new build and started to view farm house like properties, unique buildings (one of them looked checkered on the front and had red window frames, but it needed so much work doing inside) we also viewed some houses that looked normal but had personality on the inside, we viewed a 3 floored 4 bed detached house that was horrendous on the inside (they used old pictures to advertise)  and then one day we viewed a house in a village that has expensive houses (I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cheap house go for sale there, also this is in Doncaster where houses are a lot cheaper than places like London or a city in general so it may seem cheap in comparison) but this house was £190k (Cheap for this area and in our budget) it looked incredible in the pictures, it was a 3 bed semi-detached house, huge kitchen with island, huge drive way, came with a hot tub but once we got there we knew straight away that is wasn’t for us, the 3 bed turned out to be a two bed with an office (you couldn’t even fit a single bed in there) and the island took up so much room in the kitchen that you couldn’t fit a 6 seat dining table, so we left feeling glum that it wasn’t all that it was made up to be but decided to call the estate agent and see if would book a viewing for a property that we’d been contemplating viewing, they offered us a same day viewing and it was perfect, detached, 4 bed, lounge, kitchen, dining room, utility, garage and the most beautiful field views for £180K, so only £10k difference but offered so much more! We put an offer in the same day 18th Jan 2020, that was rejected the following Monday (always offer below the asking price) as they’d had an higher offer above the asking price  but was willing to accept the asking price from us as we had no chain and they had no chain as the couple that owned it had already moved into a rented house in Peterborough and didn’t plan on buying again in future (they move round too much with work)

Now this is where the mortgage process begins, we had to prove to the estate agents that we had the deposit (bank statements) we also needed to hand in two forms of ID, at this point they also offered their mortgage advisor services to us which were way over priced and he was very pushy and tried to get us to go for a 5 year mortgage which would have been a terrible idea for someone putting 5% deposit down (5 year fixed mortgages are great if it’s a low interest rate, but the interest rate is only low if you put 10% or more deposit down, higher the deposit % lower the interest)

We then had to get a solicitor, we went with a solicitor that was recommended to us and they were a bag of wank and that’s putting it politely, they were horrendous.

We had 4 appointments with 3 different mortgage advisors, this delayed our mortgage process for 2 weeks, the last mortgage advisor we saw was the one we went with, we used QS Mortgage Brokers, the QS stands for quality and service. Alistair was absolutely incredible, I’ve called him so many times and asked him loads of questions, I’ve vented to him about my solicitors and he would basically do their job for them (the solicitors kept us the dark with everything and would explain nothing, so Alistair had to explain for them) he was always on mine and Aaron’s side, he always went above and beyond, I will use him again when I need to remortgage and I will recommend him to everyone, he is based in Doncaster, he does go to peoples houses or you can go to his office, but I’m not sure how far he is willing to travel when he’s visiting clients. The 4th appointment (3rd February 2020) was when we picked our mortgage, who we wanted to lend from, what interest rate, how much it will cost us per month, how long we want our first mortgage term to be and if were we interested in any cash back deals. We decided to go for one that did not have any cash back as the ones that did had higher interest (this is something to look out for, basically means the cash back is more like a high interest loan) During this appointment we also filled in the paper work from the solicitors.

It didn’t take long to find out that our mortgage was accepted (subject to valuation) and paid a £200 admin fee to the bank,  a week or so later the bank did their valuation of the property and we were fully accepted! I think this was around the 12th February? I can’t fully remember but it was that week.

At this point we paid the first fee to the solicitors so they could begin their searches, like I said, they really kept us in the dark during this process, I have no idea when then house was surveyed or when the checks where done or how they went, we didn’t find out that everything went through fine until we chased them, which I think was the day before my birthday and the day before we went to Rome, which was the 26th February, they told us to call back on the 2nd of March, we were chasing for an update as we wanted to give our months notice on our rented house, we called again on the 2nd just to find out that the sellers had not given their ID to their solicitors, baring in mind this is the first step, the first thing you do is give ID to the estate agents, the solicitors and mortgage advisor, so I wasn’t impressed, this is obviously not my solicitors fault but on this same phone call was also the first time they’d gave us any insight to as what was going on (we’d been dealing with them since the 21st of January and the 2nd of March was our first proper conversation and update, which we had to chase for, and they were reluctant to give, they rushed us off the phone every time and we were never rude to them, I’ve worked in customer service so I know how shit people can be on the phone so I’m always polite and understanding whenever I have to call anywhere but my solicitors literally spoke to me and my partner like shit every time we called.

We handed in our notice to our landlord on the 4th March, which was a bit of risk since we still did not have a completion date,

I called the solicitors again to find out if the sellers had given in their ID and if they were ready to agree on a completion date, he was rude again and even suggested that I go knock on the sellers front door and basically tell them to get a move on.... so I’ll do my solicitors job for him despite paying him over £1k, in the end it was actually the estate agents that actually managed to get us somewhere and put a completion date forward, we were going to go with Friday the 13th but I wasn’t going to risk it, so we put forward the 20th and 27th March. This happened around the 3rd March, which was also the day we closed our help to buy ISA, it took 5 working days to receive our ISA funds and another 5 working days to receive our letters confirming that the account has been closed.

On Friday the 13th my solicitor finally confirmed that the sellers were happy for the completion date to be the 20th of March, the following Monday he tried to push the moving date to the 27th despite nothing changing since his previous email, that same day I brought in our closed ISA account letter so he could claim for the ISA funds, this was also this first time I met my solicitor in person (normally I’d have to deal with his rude assistant) My solicitor explained he wanted to push back the completion date due to wanting more time to collect the ISA funds, (my mortgage advisor had already explained to me that this only takes a couple of days to do, he definitely did not need 10 working days to claim this) which I then asked him why he didn’t ask us to close our account sooner or set our expectations and why he told us on the Friday that everything was going forward for the 20th, I didn’t kick off or anything, I just asked and he immediately got very defensive and said ‘I’m not to blame!’ And called his assistant into the room and she then said ‘ well there is an option to request the ISA bonus as urgent...’ it was like pulling teeth, why they couldn’t have just done this in the first place I’ll never know. The next day (17th) we exchanged contacts.

On the 19th of March, I got a call from my solicitor, the first time he’s ever called me, he explained that they have the funds from the bank and the ISA bonus and that everything is ready for the 20th, the completion date, we’re just waiting on the sellers to exchange their contracts.

The completion date is here and I get the delightful call telling me that nobody can get in touch with the seller and they still haven’t exchanged contacts... STRESS OVERLOAD, we’d arranged a moving van, we’d got family members off work to help us move, we were just about to go order a fridge to be delivered for Sunday and everything just had to come to a stand still as we couldn’t do anything until they exchanged contacts.
When someone finally got in touch with the sellers they had to be CONVINCED to exchange their contacts, they’re the exact words we were told by our estate agent, I don’t understand what convincing they needed because the house was empty, they were in their new home, as soon as they exchanged contacts they were going to get a lot of money from the bank, I don’t understand why they needed convincing but we finally got there in the end. We picked up the keys and began moving our belongings, we did not stay there on the Friday night as everyone kept telling us ‘Friday flit short sit’ and we still had our rented house till the 4th April so it wasn’t an issue for us.

I’m so grateful that we managed to move in on the 20th March as the following week the lockdown was announced, I’m not sure how that would have impacted us moving in on a later date but I’m just glad to not be in that position.

And now we’re happy and in our new home, but of course some things were a little unexpected and our mortgage advisor did give us the heads up that they may be some potential ‘quirks’ such as the poorly filled in holes in the wall from where they used to have shelves and a skirting board which is pulling away from the wall, we didn’t see this when viewing the property as a bed was in the way and also the wall socket for the dishwasher is blown, which we now need to fix, they are all small things to fix but still not ideal!

All that may have seemed rather negative but it was definitely worth it, I love this house, it’s perfect for us and we have so many plans for decorating which we can’t do until the coronavirus is gone but we’re happy to wait and stay safe, which I hope you’re doing the same!

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