Hey everyone, it's been a while! Thought it was about time I got back into the blogging and with something new to blog about too I definitely had to do it!
Me and my better half (ha! 😘) are about to take our first steps onto the property ladder, or at least we're trying to- there seem to be hundreds of sites out there to tell you how they think you should do it and lots of what people are calling 'handy tips' and 'hints', and there are even guides on how to do property developing... and well I'm sure a fair bit is useful, I'm also sure a fair bit is utter crap too, because if it was that easy wouldn't everyone be doing it?
So I figured why don't I write a blog of our experiences from start to finish and actually be honest about things we might be doing or have done wrong and hopefully right too, and you can all laugh at me as I inevitably take a sledgehammer to a load-bearing wall or when we price something up unrealistically to the point where something we think should cost £200 actually costs £2,000... or we buy an absolute money pit... hopefully that won't happen, and hopefully we won't bite off more than we can chew and well I kind of also hope I'm not going to be stupid enough to make a house collapse on me, but who knows. We're only at the beginning of the adventure, anything could happen, which isn't that part of the fun? (Okay, so I said I'd be honest... I'm crapping myself a little bit...okay... a lot, but I'm excited too!)
So the first hurdle we've overcome is saving up a deposit and whilst I'm not going to tell you how much is saved up in our bank accounts, we're looking at houses of up to £150,000 or at a push £165,000 but really we want to get a house for under £130,000 as we don't want to stretch to our limits.
As I'm sure most have you have found out, or are finding out, saving up for a deposit isn't easy and we've had our fair share of bumps along the way. The first probably was me quitting my job due to it not being a healthy environment, actually the first mistake was probably moving out of my parents and into RENTED accommodation. Although we were paying rent to my parents it obviously wasn't anywhere near what we're paying now and it didn't include bills, all money that could have gone in the savings. Admittedly we moved out of my parents because I landed my job in fashion up here in Manchester, and in a way that's made our first steps onto the property ladder easier as it's much easier to save up for a deposit on a house in Manchester then what it is in Essex, where houses are double the price so we'd probably still be saving up.
The next hurdle we faced was me having a go at setting up my own business, which meant not only have I been out of work for a while but we threw some money at that too, admittedly it really wasn't that much but it was all money that could have gone in the savings, however I can't really say that was a regret because if it had have worked, we'd have been laughing. My partner has two businesses that are both doing amazing, so it worked for him, he got it right, so in some cases if you're brave enough it's worth taking the risk.
And then there was the cat... luckily enough we've not had to pay anything, but if circumstances had gone the other way we'd have lost close to £1,000 out of the savings because he had to have a major operation. Now, lucky or unlucky for us the vets documented it all wrong and the insurance wouldn't pay out, however we took the vets to court and we won due to the stack of evidence I had built up. Now I'm not saying if you want a mortgage don't have pets, I couldn't live without my fur babies (yes I'm one of those people), I guess I'm saying you can save up and save up and shit can still happen, we got lucky on that occasion but it could have seriously set us back. In a way it did set us back because we kept that money separate, untouched in case we did have to pay otherwise it would have meant getting CCJ's and as I'm sure you know CCJ's and mortgages don't mix too well.
I'm not going to go into all of it, as we'll be here until next Christmas, but I guess what I'm trying to say is be sensible (i.e you might think you need a new sofa but as long as you haven't fallen through it do you really need a new sofa? I have to be honest, we did almost cave on that one but as of yet we haven't), and as much as you can be prepared, life still happens, don't beat yourself up just carry on you'll get there! Eventually...
One of the most sensible things we have done to help our savings is by using Help-To-Buy Cash ISA's. We have one each, the interest is paid tax-free, you can open the account with £1 to £1000. You can top them up by £200 a month and once you've bought your house with the money from them you'll get 25% back from the Government, up to £3,000... now in our case we're looking at fixer-uppers so that money should could back to us at a great time and be really handy to put towards the initial repairs.
You might not be a nutter who wants to buy a house that has a certain toilet odour, a hole in the ceiling with an unsupported chimney breast, rotten windows, a pretty much non-existent roof and has wiring worst than what I ever made in a school science class but I'm sure that money from the Government would be handy for you too. It could go towards paying off the relative you've asked to help you out with the deposit in the first place or it could go to furnishing your new house or even a night out, and from what I've been told you never know a houses true problems until you live in it and lets face it, if it turns out a bit crap you'll probably need it. At the end of the day it might seem like a lot of effort to mess around opening bank accounts, working out what the right one for you is (although I hear they're all pretty similar) and moving money around, but it's literally free money so you'd be a fool not to take it, surely?
We're with Halifax as that is what my partner tells me is the best for us (he's good with that stuff, I'm not) here's the link: Halifax HTB ISA, but I believe you can also get them from Lloyds, Natwest, Santander, Barclays and pretty much all the rest.
Another thing we've done to help us with our little fixer-upper once we have it, is to go for a mortgage which gives us £1,000 cashback upon completion, this works out the best deal for us because we want a fixed rate for two years. We've chosen two years as we're hoping we'll be done and on to the next property by then. We're not sure if the first house we do will be sold or rented yet - we'll cross that bridge when we come to it - as it all the depends on the house and what the market does with the dreaded BREXIT. If it goes completely tits up we'll probably be living in it longer, which is why one of the items on our house checklist is that the house needs to be somewhere we could happily live for longer if the worse should happen, we're probably being a bit too cautious but as they say, its better to be safe than sorry!
I think that's enough for one day, stay tuned because we've already started looking round houses and have been for the last few months, and we've even put offers in on houses so check back in few days to see how that's been going, what went wrong and what drives us nuts about estate agents...
P.S As that was all a bit heavy to lighten the mood here's a picture of the cat that almost cost us a small fortune being a bit derpy...