You’ve probably noticed I’ve not been around for a while. That’s because hubby and I finally moved to our first ever own home and we’re still living out of a box, and our broadband isn’t yet connected which means I’m living like they did in the dark ages; without internet.
Anyway, that’s probably the least of our woes, to be honest. Everything that could have gone wrong, did go wrong and whereas we can now laugh about it, hubby and I were in fits of rage and tears for almost a month when we were sorting the final stages of the purchase out. Buying a house is super stressful anyway but I think we should probably get a medal for “worst house purchase ever”.
So I thought I’d create this handy little checklist for anyone considering entering the gruelling process of home ownership. It’s a classic case of “don’t do what I did, do what I say” but trust me honey, you’ll save yourself months of time and some sanity (hopefully).
1. Get the vendor to show you around. Most people use estate agents to help them sell their property, and the estate agent doesn’t care about anything else than their own commission. And they will not tell you about anything you need to update or be aware of in the property. Why? Because you might not buy it, or if you will, you’ll offer less than the asking price, which means they will get less commission. I’m sure there are a few estate agents who are decent human beings but I am yet to meet one. Anyway. The vendor usually has actually lived in the property and they can tell you things that the estate agent would never tell you.
2. When viewing the house, take the number of the vendor. Trust me on this. You will not ask all the questions you have when you view the property and getting in touch with the vendor through the estate agents or solicitors can be time consuming, stressful and tricky. Also, if there are any complications when you’re in the process of moving, you’re best dealing with the vendor themselves. Case and point: when we’d waited for a Tree protection Order for 1,5 months and the other sides solicitors tried to blame the council for the delay, I phoned the vendor and they went and got the paperwork in one day, which helped us move the process forward.
3. Don’t let the estate agent rush you. The estate agents want you to complete as quickly as possible because they get paid when money exchanges hands. We were rushed to get the Decision in Principle (bank document confirming the bank would lend us enough to cover the purchase), then our mortgage paperwork, and finally to hand in our notice on our old home. Let that sink in: our estate agent advised to hand in our notice before we had exchanged contracts. For some reason, it hadn’t crossed their mind that there might be variables outside their hands that the completion would be delayed, thus rendering us homeless for a few weeks before we finally got the keys to our new place. What did they say when I told them their advise was making us homeless? “It’s one of those things”.
4. Don’t hand in your notice before you have exchanged contracts. It’s very true that we were quite naïve taking our estate agents advise about handing in our notice but we handed it in a few weeks in advance, which we thought would give us a few weeks crossover which means we could have moved slowly and in an orderly fashion. Instead, we ended up crashing at our friends place with all our stuff for a few weeks – and then move again to our new home. Basically, we moved twice in 2 weeks. And we had 7 years’ worth of stuff to move with us. It wasn’t pretty. So, just don’t.
5. Keep chasing your solicitor. They won’t bother chasing things up unless you do. Their favourite sentence was “we are waiting for…” which used to drive hubby and I nuts. I mean, why are you waiting and not chasing it up. They then acted like this was a brand new invention which they had never heard of before. And lo and behold, stuff started to turn up and the process move forward once they did chase things. Who’da guessed.
6. Move your broadband at least 2 weeks before you move. We were with Sky and it takes them around 2-3 weeks to flick a switch to get you online again from when you let them know you’re moving. Unless you’re OK with some internet downtime give them plenty of notice. I didn’t and now I go without until they switch me back on.
7. Don’t book your removal van until after 2PM. If you’re moving on the day you complete, just be aware that solicitors never see any money until after midday, and in most of their contracts they have a clause that says they can hold keys until 2PM. Word on the street is that this gives them extra interest on the mortgage money they transfer on your behalf, but I wouldn’t want to speculate (I’m pretty sure that’s the case). But after 2PM they should definitely have the money and you can have your keys and you can go and move to your new home.
And there you go. Hopefully your move is going to be a lot less stressful than ours. Having said that, now that we finally are in our new home, we’re happy we bought it. It just took us almost 6 months.
P.S I just realised this sounds like hatemail to estate agents and solicitors. Which it pretty much is. Sorry about that (not sorry).