Top tips for Buying and Selling your home
I am very fortunate to have been able to purchase a home before the age of 30. As we know the millennial generation are struggling like hell to get onto that property ladder. We were hit hard by the recession, our incomes are lower in relative means than the previous ‘baby boomer generation’ and let’s not even mention house prices. So we have been labelled ‘generation rent’ as many are renter for a lot longer than their parents were. Obviously, I am aware that often this ‘generation rent’ and the supposed conflict between millennials and baby boomers is not entirely accurate. As noted in The Independent the problems lies with not with our parents but with the lack of affordable housing. There is also the matter of ‘class.’ Many millennials who buy their first home may have the income to afford to pay a mortgage but they need financial assistance from ‘the bank of mum, dad, grandma’ etc to actually secure that mortgage. This forgets those millennials who come from a lower income family background. We may have had help additional means from the government through additional money during college, grants and scholarships for University but there is no lump sum to help us buy our first home. When your rent is half of your wage or in areas like London probably more, how can you ever afford your own home? I know I am so lucky to actually have my own home and I do think that everyday so I feel very fortunate that I can even write an article about buying and selling my first home.
I am aware that there is some help out there. You can top up your savings with the governments ‘Help to Buy Scheme’ and first time buyers avoid hefty stamp duty in most circumstances. However, there is a little catch if you are a couple, it is only free if both of you are first time buyers. That meant that despite me being a first time buyer when we bought our second home we still had to pay full stamp duty whack as my husband had previously owned our first home, which gave me a greater sweat than the extortionate monthly nursery fee we were paying at the time.
Anyway, the cliche goes ‘moving home is one of the most stressful things you can do.’ I agree, in my life I have probably moved about 20 times. In the last 5 years we have moved 6 times from London to Surrey and finally three properties in Cardiff. But, none of these moves compared to the stress of buying and selling a house in a chain.
We decided to put our house on the market in November. We had been thinking about it for a year or so and after I passed my probation in work we decided to apply for a mortgage. We applied for a mortgage in principal online and started searching rightmove within our price range.
We found a home that had the potential. But I can’t say we loved it. However, we wanted a quick sale to be in before school applications closed so we went with the the estate agent who sold us our house originally and was selling the one we wanted. We figured they already know our house because they had sold it two years earlier to us and they were based in the area.
That was our first mistake. We didn’t negotiate the commission. To be honest, I didn’t know you could. To be fair our estate agents were really good. They had our home on rightmove five days later and sold our home in about 5 weeks.
Tip 1: Get a few different quotes from estate agents, find out what they can do for you, what they value your home at and negotiate the commission cost.
The difficultly we found was that we were in a chain. We waited two months after selling our home for our sellers to find a home and when we started reaching the three month mark we were getting frustrated as was our buyer.
We called our bank who supplied our current mortgage and who we had obtained a mortgage in principal from. As my husband was already in a fixed term mortgage we had to stay with the current mortgage company and carry the mortgage over, other we would have had to have paid a penalty. Luckily for us this worked out well because our bank provided a Skype meeting with us while Nancy was in bed. Ideal when you both work full time. We explained our situation and the fact that our childcare had halved since we applied for our previous mortgage in principal. We were shocked to discuss that I had actually filled in the mortgage in principle online incorrectly! I had filled it in as if we were buying a second property. That meant that we were able to borrow more money and this allowed us to start looking further afield, opening up more homes to us.
Tip 2: Go through a mortgage advisor to find out how much you can borrow, provide them with every bit of detail and keep a conversation going with your mortgage advisor.
We were advised by our estate agent to start looking at other houses because our sellers still had no found somewhere. We decided to pull out of the house we had made an offer in and begun looking at other houses.
Tip 3: The house isn’t yours until you have those keys in hand. Do what is right for you.
We found our dream home. We were happy but it was slightly out of our range. So despite it not being in my nature I haggled. I mentioned additional work that the house required, compared it to other properties in the area and fed this back to the estate agent. it worked, they accepted our offer.
Tip 4: Haggle - especially if the property has been on the market for a little while.
I thought that was the stress over. But oh no it was just the beginning. We had to instruct a solicitor. I asked around and went with someone local to me and who I knew through a mutual friend. This worked out well for me as i was not embarrassed to ask ‘silly questions.’
Tip 5: You do not have to go with the solicitor attached to your estate agent. Shop around, ask friends and read reviews. A bad solicitor can delay everything.
We then had to have checks carried out on our home - boiler, electrics, EPC. All of which costs money. And be prepared your buyer will most likely send out a surveyor and problems may appear. If they do your buyer may ask you to fix them or even ask for you to knock money off the accepted price.
Tip 6: Have a contingency budget. I cannot recommend a figure as it all depends on the value of your home, how handy you are and the age of your property.
At this point finances were going wild. I was paying for boiler checks, initial costing to instruct the solicitor etc. Being the type of person I am I kept a spreadsheet from the start. I kept a record of quotes, contact details, deposits paid and costings that were outstanding.
Tip 7: Stay on top of your finances through a spreadsheet
While you manage the checks on your own home you also need to keep an eye on the checks your seller is doing. You will have a surveyor our to check your new home. They will offer you different quotes, the more expensive you go the more detailed the survey will be. They may come back with a list of things they think need to be looked at by professionals, for example: a window glazer to check windows. This again may add additional £££ to your bill. But, I would take advice and in a lot of ways it is better to be safe than sorry. Sometimes if a problem is spotted e.g. a fault with the boiler you can ask the seller through your solicitor to add a requirement to the contract that the fault must be fixed before the contracts are signed. More than likely your seller wants to sell up so will arrange any changes.
Tip 8: CHECK, CHECK, CHECK - make sure you have everything checked where possible. There would be nothing worse than moving in and finding a big whole in your roof.
There are also other checks your solicitor will do behind the same - land checks etc. To be honest I felt completely lost at this point. There was Tree Preservation Order on a tree behind our house and even my google searches couldn’t make heads not tails as to whether this would affect our home. I fired a load of questions at my solicitor and she guided me through it. It really was a great help.
Tip 9: Read all the surveys and checks carefully. You never know what could crop up. My solicitor highlighted key points for me, this really helped.
Finally, we reached the point where we could almost exchange. This is where the property sort of legally becomes yours. You have to pay a certain amount upfront to secure the property and after this point you cannot pull out without serious costings. This is dealt with by your solicitor and in our chain we basically used the money from our buyer to pay our seller. Which takes the stress out of it. The date you exchange is crucial. You want to try and do it two weeks before. We were kept waiting a little bit and the date was pushed back due to unforeseen circumstances. This meant it was hard for us to pack, secure childcare and book the delivery men.
Tip 10: The earlier you can exchange the better.
Once you have exchanged you can start booking your delivery men. Never underestimate how much stuff you have! I had a few quotes and haggled with a number of delivery men and got £100 off my original quote. At first I didn’t think we needed much for our garage items. I was wrong, our garage items filled one small van! We had one big lorry sized van and a small van and both were packed up on the day. We had planned to move ourselves as we did on our previous moves, but we were so glad we didn’t on the day. Once you have your own home it is surprising how much stuff you can acquire. It made all the difference having two extra pair of hands to help us.
Tip 11: Never underestimate how much stuff you have.
Moving day came and we were packing everything up and scrubbing away. By 11:30 we were waiting for that call from the solicitor to say that we could collect our keys. While we waited we grabbed lunch and honestly once those keys were in my hand it was the best feeling ever.
Tip 12: Leave your home clean and tidy for the new owners. Also, leave notes of what keys are for what, any alarm codes, tricks and niggles and any other bits. It makes all the difference.
We split up and my hubby dropped the keys off while I collected our new keys. The delivery men unpacked all our garden furniture while we did this we saved on time.
I can honestly say minus the stress, the cross words and the tiredness it was the best feeling ever moving in. People will recommend taking your time unpacking but I can’t pretend like I didn’t have everything (minus some boxes of things we didn’t need) unpacked and the whole house scrubbed top to bottom by Sunday. Monday I spent the day gardening and by Tuesday I was back in work. That weekend I was decorating Nancy’s bedroom. That is just my personality, I want it all done yesterday and it doesn’t feel like home until then. There are other people who have their house decorated top to bottom before they move in so they can unpack and not worry about packing up again when they decorate. It all depends on you, your budget and whether you know what you want.
Tip 13: Do everything at your own pace and do not overspend.
Thank you for reading until the end . I am no expert on moving home and I hope I never have to do it again. But if moving is right for you it is definitely worth it!