Sunday, February 15, 2004

My home. All mine. Mine, I tell you!

And so it comes to an end. Quite quickly, all told. What? The process of buying a house. It's not for nothing that it's said that this is one of the most stressful experiences in life, but I think that got off lightly. For those who haven't been around for me to constantly bore with details, here's the complete story.

Summer 2003
Start thinking about buying a house. I looked into some mortgage stuff, but nothing came of it.
December 2003
Started thinking about house-buying again. Went to see a mortgage advisor at the Bradford and Bingley who advised me to come back after I had seen a few properties. So I saw three flats before leaving for Christmas and didn't like any of them very much.
Christmas 2003

I saw some more flats that I might want to look at over the Internet.

I went to see one of these flats the day after I got back from home after Christmas. This is when things started getting hectic...

Day 1
Went to see the house in the morning and really liked it. So I called up the mortgage advisor (Claire) to talk about it. She arranged an appointment for that afternoon. At the interview, I decided to put in a survey on the flat. The surveyor would go round the next day and I should get results that same day.
Day 2
Got the results of the survey. All was well, but the flat was valued at an awful lot more than the offers over price. At this point, I thought that I was out of the race for this flat, but Claire reckoned that I could still afford it, with the large amount of help that my parents were offering. So I thought about it and decided that I'd go and see Claire again to get some more detailed figures.
Day 3
Went to see Claire and on the basis of the figures that we worked out, I decided that I'd put in an offer on the flat.
Day 4
Was contacted by the solicitor that Claire had arranged for me (Hannay Fraser and Co) and he said that he'd contact the seller's solictor after the weekend to put in our agreed offer (which was slightly below my absolute affordability limits, so that I could raise it if necessary).
Day 8
I heard back from Mr Fraser from the solicitor to say that I had got the flat! And at a price less than I had authorised him for as well, which was very cool. It did leave me in shock for a while though.
Day 16
Finalised the paperwork surrounding the mortgage.
Day 20
Got a call from my grandfather saying that they were going to get a new suite and that I could have the old one, which was great. Suites and beds were my only major purchases, since the flat would already come with kitchen stuff – cooker, fridge-freezer, washing machine and dishwasher, which is great, since I'm already at the limits of my budget, and that's with all the help that my parents are giving me.
Day 21
Got a call from Claire saying that I needed to go and make a first time buyer's appointment with the mortgage lender (the Cheltenham and Gloucester). Also went looking at beds and carpets (since the flat currently has wooden laminate floors, which I don't like). The guy at the carpet shop said that I'd need to lift the existing floor up before putting down carpets. Pondered this for a while and decided that I'd make do with rugs.
Day 22
Went to the first time buyer's interiew with the C&G, which basically rehashed stuff that I had already gone over with Claire.
Day 24
Discovered that the seller wanted an entry date much earlier than I did. Eventually compromised on a mid-way point (alhtough it was still earlier than I would have liked) and I panicked while I tried to ensure that I had all the necessary funds in place by that time.
Day 27
Bought beds. I didn't mean to. I just went out to have a look around and try some out, but I was there, the beds seemed nice, and I really didn't want to spend even more time on it, so I bought two. One for my room and one for the other bedroom.
Day 32
Got confirmation that I had a mortgage.
Day 35
Hanny Fraser got back to me saying that they would want stamp duty and land registration fees from me at the same time my deposit. This caused me to panic for a bit as I checked that I would have enough funds in my account to pay it. I figured out that I would, but not before more anguish.
Day 37
Discover that Hanny Fraser want paid before they will complete the registration. Rats. Well, that wasn't quite how I put it at the time, but this is a family friendly blog:-). More panic, another call to my mum to ask for help and talking very nicely to Mr Fraser meant that I got that sorted by giving them a post-dated cheque.
Day 39
I got my keys. Eventually. First I thought that I'd have to go to the seller's solicitor (which is miles and miles away) and then discovered that I'd get them from the seller herself, but she didn't have a working phone and her solicitor didn't have her mobile number. In the end, it turned out that her new home was just round the corner from me and so I just went up and picked up the keys from her in person. The end.

Well, that's it. The story of buying a house in under forty days from first seeing it to having the keys. Looking back through this account, it feels like a very "just the facts, Ma'am" account. There's very little of the real fear, self-doubt and anxiety that I felt during the process. But they were all present and probably made me difficult to live with at times, but it's over now. Hell, I still don't know if I've made the right decision or not. Only time will tell that.

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