…”Pretty much, yeh.”
I BOUGHT A HOUSE!!!! And it’s frikin awesome…but it was bloody hard work getting here! From the very beginning it was hugely overwhelming and frustrating, from the mortgage company getting upset that I’m known as Milly not Emily, to the life insurance company refusing me life cover because I’ve been to see a GP about anxiety in the past five years (Legal and General – I’m an interesting, complicated, well-rounded person with a few issues – bite me). I eventually got life insurance with a different provider but with a special clause added saying that I couldn’t claim for anything in any way related to mental illness – the thing I’m most likely to need it for.
Anyhoo, I’m not the only person who’s had to go through this crap and our lovely, thoughtful government is only making it harder so I thought I’d impart my ‘wisdom’ – in Tips for Buying a House in 5 Concise Bullet Points (standard Milldew-ness):
- Do you have sherry? You’ll be needing a big bottle of sherry before you commence any part of this process.
- Do you have an Independent Financial Adviser? I think you should probably get one. Well actually, if you’re the kind of person that looks at interest rates and get’s excited then you could probably go it alone, but if you look at interest rates and think “don’t cry, don’t cry” then you’ll probably benefit from some expert advise. There are some banks and mortgage providers who don’t deal with IFAs (HSBC, for example) but I don’t think we could have gotten a better deal than the one we have now, in fact I don’t think we would have bought a house without the help of our lovely IFA (dear Paolo, great guy). Being a first time buyer, especially in these times is tough, and as much as parents or elders can help with advice and guidance, the truth is that getting a mortgage these days is a completely different ball game than it was for the older generation. In fact I’d go as far as saying it no longer involves a ball at all – more like a javelin.
- Ever wondered why solicitors earn so much money? You’re about to find out. It would probably be cheaper and easier to marry a solicitor and then get them to buy you a house than it is to actually employ one for the purpose. My advice is to save your first time buyer bootie off. If, by some wonderfully fortuitous circumstance, or just some serious hard graft, you have ended up with a deposit for a house then DON’T STOP SAVING. The deposit is only the start my friends.
- Have you stopped saving? DON’T STOP SAVING. Even if you buy a house that hardly even needs a wall painting all of a sudden you’ll start to realise that there’s all this stuff you need to buy to live in the house. Chris and I have just bought a Victorian Settle – with lions on the arms – just to take our shoes off when we get home! It’s ridiculous! Perhaps we went a little far BUT when you put all the really cheap stuff you bought from Ikea when you first left home and have been supplementing with other really cheap stuff from The Range ever since in a house, you all of a sudden realise that it’s all rubbish. Which brings me onto point number five…
- Hold out for the good stuff. And definitely stay clear of shops like Next. You’ll be tempted in your tired and frazzled, box-carrying stupor to think “right, I just need a wardrobe, I’m just going to go somewhere where I know there’ll be a wardrobe so I can buy a wardrobe”, so you trundle off down to Next and look at a wardrobe that’s alright and you quite like, bit flimsy but it’ll do and then look at the price and see that its 789 British pounds! For a wardrobe that would go straight through the bottom if you got in it (good test for any piece of furniture – is it strong enough for you to stand in it or on it – we never let Chris do this test – the man’s 6ft5, I’m not even sure if I could fit him in Narnia let alone the wardrobe you’ve got to crawl through to get there). Therefore my advise would be to wait a little – it’s never fun to live out of bags (or in my case – piles) but you’ll be in this house for a while, it’s worth taking your time over what goes in it. In the end Chris and I purchased an epic and HUGE Victorian wardrobe from an antiques place for half the price of the pli-wood piece of crap we found in Next – well worth the wait.
Buying a house is a different experience for everyone but the amount of stress is probably similar, as it the amount of sheer excitement at owning your own little space of the world – and being able to decorate it like a C.S Lewis children’s story.