So as promised here is the second instalment to our house hunt... I left off last time with what we'd done with our mortgage and I had spoken about saving up for that all important deposit, so now we're on to my favourite bit, actually looking around people's houses - queue tireless hours spent crawling over Rightmove and Zoopla!
As I said before we're looking for a house that isn't in too great of a shape, a 'fixer-upper'. The market seems to have a few floating around, so we didn't think it'd be too hard to find what we're looking for. We're after a minimum of two beds, preferably three, and we need a large kitchen/dinner or a separate dinning room as we have the biggest table in the world, which is very pretty and we want to keep it. We're not too fussed whether it's a semi, end terraced or mid terraced. We'd also like an off-road parking spot and a nice garden but we're willing to compromise on these... and I feel compromising is something you need to be willing to do to find a good house. Realistically unless you're willing to spend a small fortune you're probably not going to get everything you want.
Our budget for the house started off at looking up to £110,000. I did say in the last post it was now higher but we'll get to that, although probably not in this post.
The house hunt kicked off when I found this incredibly cheap fixer upper in Hyde, as it was way under our budget we thought it looked a bit like a steal... So I rang straight up to book a viewing but the house had gone to what was going to be a cash buyer, obviously a builder. The estate agent said they'd still happily let us view it which I thought was a little odd and we told the estate agent we're not interested in treading on anyone's toes.
You're probably thinking we're idiots and being a bit naive but my gut was telling me something was just not right, and it turned out to be correct. After doing further research on the property and digging around on the Internet a lot, it turned out the house was actually on a bit of a rough estate that wasn't really actually Hyde. It was the estate agents that had listed it as Hyde, they'd also listed it as an "up and coming popular area"... Ha! Estate agents like to, how shall we put it... Expand the truth a little bit. So it might have been a popular area but it was a popular area for social housing, which in some cases is still okay, in this circumstance it wasn't. Oh, and the house is still on the market four months later.
Next up came a few houses around Ashton-Under-Lyne, we looked at an inherited two-bed semi with a good size drive and garden. Again this one was way under budget, it needed modernisation which is what we want and it ticked all the other boxes too, however when we got there those bright airy pictures that had been floated on Rightmove and Zoopla, turned out to be actually small and claustrophobic which was why the property was the price it was. To be fair we didn't feel too stupid because that's not something you can tell until you get there. The estate agent whom greeted us at the house told us that if we moved the bathroom upstairs (like we would have done to be fair) we could sell the house for £25,000 more than what it was up for now, again our guts were telling us something different and when we got home we did a little more research and let's just say we were correct not to trust those figures. The house has since reduced by £5,000 and an offer (not from us) has been accepted.
The next house came up in a similar area, and in all honesty we'd fell a little in love with this one but going in fully armed with research on the area and market prices, we knew it was up for too much for the condition it was in. It was a large inherited three bed end terraced in need of modernisation with a decent size driveway and garden, and a detached garage. It ticked everything! The only problem was is was up for £15,000 too much, maybe £10,000 too much at a push. We costed it up and took my brother and cousin to see it a few days after first viewing it as they are both in the building trade, they noticed that the gable end wall needed extensive re-pointing... However, when we price up the repairs to a house we do a worse case scenario price too and with the information from them it fit in with what we were thinking, so we put in an offer at £15,000 below the asking price, it was rejected straight away which is what we expected, we then upped it to £12,000 below the asking price, at this point another bidder had come into the picture and we was informed their bid was higher than ours, so we put our final offer in at £10,000 below stressing that we had our mortgage in principle, we're first time buyers and could move on it straight away...
We were then told the offer that was put in was for £5,000 below the asking price, and for what it needed was just too high for us to stretch to, so instead of going all googly eyed over the property we walked away. It is important to know when to walk away, yeah it might feel crap but if the price isn't right stretching yourself is silly, especially when you're viewing it as an investment! The house went to "Under Offer" online for a couple of months, however it has since been put back on the market.
We then looked around a number of other houses around all areas of Greater Manchester. People often don't want to face up to what they're house is actually worth and in some circumstances, as even the estate agents have stated, the current owner is being a little greedy. It's definitely worth checking the house SOLD prices on Zoopla and Rightmove to get a better idea of what the house you are looking at is actually worth in its current state.
To do this; on Zoopla when it first loads just click on the house prices and values tab and then you can enter your street/road name.
On Rightmove when it first loads click on house prices then sold house prices. We use both to compare, I prefer Rightmove, Dan prefers Zoopla. They both give you different types of statistics and information. Rightmove seems to get the latest sold prices a little quicker, but that just my opinion.
After this we then found a house in Stalybridge, in what was a really nice area of here too. It again was way under budget, it was a good sized two bedroom end terraced, with a large kitchen/dinner, a cellar and not a bad sized back yard, although it was still a yard. No parking space but we did say we'd compromise on that! I'd looked at it a week earlier online and after the first look, sacked it off as being up for too much for what work needed doing even though it was still under budget to start off with.
After a week it had been dropped £10,000 then I became interested and showed it to Dan and we decided to get a viewing booked straight away. It some became obvious we weren't the only ones interested and builders/investors were quickly booking viewings too. We got a good feeling about it and property on the street was done up was selling for £55,000 over the current asking price. It did need a fair amount of work but you could have still lived in it while you sorted it, so again we knew it was a steal and quickly jumped in with an offer stupidly £5,000 below asking price.
Now we did this because we've been told a lot to always go in under what you want to pay, in most circumstances that is a good idea but in this one it just wasn't. We were told investors were looking at the property over the next few days and the vendor was not willing to accept an offer now. We quickly realised our mistake and offered the asking price... two days later our offer was rejected as a builder had gone in and offered the same as us except it was in cash and he agreed to not have a survey. You just can't beat a builder.
I do wonder if we'd have gone in straight away at the asking price if they would have agreed to remove it off the market and we'd be sat in it now. But you can't and shouldn't think like that! However, the house was put back on the market about a week ago for £55,000 over the initial price, promising to be completely done up to the new buyers taste, I'm not going to lie I was a bit annoyed and bitter, I actually growled at my iPad screen, a little too loud.
To summarise, so far we have learnt;
- Don't trust those glossy images estate agents post online (you'll hear more on this later)
- Just because you think or know the house isn't worth that much doesn't mean the vendor agrees.
- Learn when to walk away
- Trust your gut, it'll generally lead you down the right path.
- A second opinion is always great but sometimes you need to move fast.
- Research, research and research! (my university tutors would be proud, they lived by that saying)
- Never completely trust an estate agent. At the end of the day they are looking out for the best interests of the seller not the buyer, oh and they're wanting a bigger commission! (again you'll hear more on this later)
I think that is enough for one day, check back soon to read the next instalment and what is getting me really grumpy!