Buying a house

First, construct a universe.

Good buddy and fellow Team #weeknotes writer Ian Ames posed me some questions about my house-buying journey. Since that might be something you’ll go through at some point, here are my reflections on the whole thing.

How did you find the property you’re buying? What criteria did you use for your search? Who did you use? What information would you have liked to have had that wasn’t available?

I started looking for properties by finding all the developers who offered Help To Buy, and then got myself on their mailing lists. I knew I’d go the help to buy route because I want to start in London and scraping together 10% of £280000 is unlikely. I don’t know if I’ll stay here long term, but buying here first means I should get a decent enough price for my flat when I sell that I’ll be easily able to get something in Manchester or Edinburgh.

The criteria I used was primarily price. I really wanted a new build; there’s something psychological in me that values newness quite significantly. I’m not sure why. It may be due to the fact that I didn’t always have new stuff growing up. I went to the kind of school where you have to buy the uniform from a small, family-owned shop in Knightsbridge, or second hand.

I really would have liked more information on what other properties were valued at in the area; how much I could haggle a price up or down by; the factors that might increase or decrease the value of the property; and how exactly a Help to Buy ISA actually works.

How did you engage an estate agent/ conveyancer, how aware were/are you of the steps involved in the buying process, would an awareness of these things have helped at all?

I engaged my conveyancer through a sort of price comparison website. By the way, “conveyancer” is both a less descriptive and a less helpful job title than “geomancer”, because I at least know what “geo” means.

I had a vague awareness of the buying process, but I don’t know to what extent a greater awareness would have helped — I’ve approached this mostly by saving as much money as I can and making a lot of spreadsheets. I think I’ve logged about 35 hours on my latest one.

That being said, my solicitor has been immensely helpful in explaining these things to me.

How has the moving process been? What were the pain points, what would have helped make it easier?

I’ve not moved yet, so I promise to give you an insight into this. Right now my biggest pain point is that the developers have absolutely zero liability to me in terms of getting the flat delivered to a particular date, while I have a two-month notice period. It feels like there’s a strong possibility that those dates won’t line up, and that I’ll need to work out of my parents’ house for a time. That’s quite frustrating.

At the moment I’m making lists of things I think I’ll need to do:

  • tell the utility companies I’m moving
  • update my bank accounts
  • update my driving license (bugger)
  • set up a mail redirect
  • give my new address to people I like
  • update the vet on my cat’s new address (I’m not 100% on this)
  • book a moving van
  • book some people to move my stuff
  • book a holiday to go on while the people I’ve booked my stuff into the van I’ve booked and unload it in the new flat
  • work out how to get a sofa up to the 18th floor

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