6 top tips for buying a house

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As you’ll probably remember, we are currently searching for a new home.  Folks, I can tell you this isn’t as easy as it sounds, and we’ve spent the last month or so diligently searching house selling websites and viewing houses old and new.  We travelled 3 counties looking at show homes, and used up all our grandparent babysitting privileges (thanks Nana, Grandad and Grandma!)

Whilst we still haven’t made a decision (although I think we’re getting close) I thought I’d share my 6 top tips for the diligent house buyer.stock-photo-new-detached-house-with-garage-2628596151.  Know what you’re looking for

We have a very, very clear list of what we need this new house to do.

  • We need a dedicated office space for our fledgling business.  Running it on one side of the kitchen table isn’t the most ideal solution for us at the moment.
  • We need a decent sized garden for the kids to play in.
  • We need a garage and a double driveway.  The husbands old banger is parked on the drive all week.  It would be good to tuck it into a garage and leave the drive free for me and visitors.  A larger driveway will also give the kids a safe place for scooters and bikes.
  • A large dining kitchen is a must.  I love having family and friends round and we always congregate in the kitchen.  I’ve also added a utility room to the list.  Not only does it provide much needed storage and keep the laundry out of the kitchen, but when we’re entertaining it’s a useful space to stash plates and glasses out of sight.
  • A sewing room is also on the list.  Not only for me (but seriously….a sewing room! Squeeeee!), but also for the sanity of everyone else in the house who is currently tripping over fabric, patterns, half finished quilts and bags of yarn.

With this list in hand, every time we look at a property we know before we even view it that it has the potential to work for us or not.  If it doesn’t, then we don’t view it.  Why waste everyones time?

2.  Be realistic about your budget

This should go without saying, but I’m going to say it again.

  • Set a budget.
  • Stick to it.

No ifs, buts or maybes.  If you’ve set your budget at £100K…then £100k it is.  Not £110K. Not even £101k.  Because once you break that barrier even a little bit, it’s a slippery slope to finding yourself making an offer that will eventually break you.

And whilst we’re on that topic…just because you can borrow £200k, doesn’t mean you should.  Interest rates in the UK are at an all time low, which means there’s only one way they can go.  People lose their jobs, or have babies, or need to take time off work for other things.

Don’t, whatever you do, take it to the max.  Give yourself some wiggle room.  You’ll sleep easier at night.

3.  View everything that meets your criteria

If it ticks the boxes, go and have a look-see.  It might be the one. It might be awful. You won’t know just by looking at photos and floor plans.  Estate agents are really good at taking deceptive photos!  Just sayin’!

4.  Location, location, location

We came so close to buying a house a couple of weeks ago.  It was lovely.  It ticked all the boxes on our list.  It was spacious and pretty and, as it was brand new, would need nothing doing to it except new curtains.

Except….it was the other side of town from the kid’s school and would add 40mins to an hour every day to my school run.

It’s hard enough to get them to school on time living as close as we do (they don’t do mornings…neither do I).  But I began to imagine that extra stress in the mornings and we walked away.

It was hard.  It was totally the right thing to do.

5.  Check out your builder

Many new build houses these days are sold as leasehold.  Some builders have a clause in their contracts which stipulate that at some point in the future, when you move on and sell the house you’re buying from them, you’ll need to pay them 1.5% of the SELLING PRICE to get them to change the name of the leasehold document.

I thought Dick Turpin wore a mask!

6.  If it doesn’t work…it doesn’t work

Every couple of weeks for the last 8 years or so, Hubby and I have, for one reason or another (usually a reason involving wine or cake) driven past the most beautiful house.  Every time we have sighed wistfully and whispered “one day” to each other.

Well, dreams do come true and on Friday we viewed The Dream House.  I walked up the flower-banked path to the front door in trepidation.  Surely after all this time we couldn’t be disappointed.

We weren’t.

Built in the 1880’s its a behemoth of a house.  Red brick, stone mullions, carved brickwork. Huge rooms, 12ft high ceilings, a hand-crafted kitchen.

In need of some TLC, but not massive renovations.

Just lovely.

We walked back to the car with smiles on our faces.  It was the one.

Except…it only has 2meg of broadband.  Our business is run solely online.  2 meg of broadband won’t support our business. At the moment we have 150 meg. Without our business…we can’t afford the house.  Many hours of searching online and several telephone calls later we’d exhausted all the possibilities.  Nobody is running superfast fibre broadband to that house.

It’s a deal breaker.  We are walking away.  It’s the right thing to do.

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So…there are my top 5 tips from the house hunting coalface. We are still looking. We have a very short shortlist.  Hopefully by the time the kids return to school we’ll have made a decision.  We’re waiting for one more showhouse to be finished so we can include or discount it and then we’ll put our money where our mouth is. Dependent on our decision we’ll either be in our new home before Christmas or by this time next year.

Exciting times!   If more than a little exhausting.

ps…all photos are stock images from Shutterstock and not any that we’ve actually viewed.


14 Responses to 6 top tips for buying a house

  1. Excellent tips! I’m so sorry to hear about the broadband – what a pain – but the clearly the right decision to walk away. Hope you find your new dream house very soon. x

    • Pendle Stitches says:

      Thank you. I’ve had a conversation with the estate agents today. The vendor is aware that this is the only thing stopping us buying this house…. 😉

  2. K-Line says:

    Awesome tips – esp. the one about not going a penny over the price you set. And seriously, how tragic about the house of your dreams! There’s no living without broadband – esp. when the business requires it – but that’s a sad story E!

    • Pendle Stitches says:

      We’re not sad. 😀 We were for about half an hour and a large glass of wine! Everything happens for a reason and there are conversations going on about the broadband. Who knows….if the vendor can put some pressure on the provider the situation might change. But, que sera sera! It’ll all work out in the end!

  3. I agree, especially about going to see whatever is within budget. Sometimes something that you really don’t expect will be right for you makes you go “oh yes, this is it!” The right property will come along, it just isn’t quite ready for you yet. Patience 🙂

    • Pendle Stitches says:

      Patience is absolutely the name of the game. And nerves of steel! 😉 Our house is out there waiting for us. We’ve just got to find it. And it’s great fun poking around houses in the meantime!

  4. Caroline T says:

    These are great tips and so true. Hope you find your dream home soon. We are currently waiting to move to ours. Fingers crossed it won’t be long! Hope you find your dream sewing room too! 🙂

  5. Kate says:

    These are all excellent tips! I would add that it’s never wasted time, looking, even when you have to walk away. We spent 18 months looking and eventually found the house we live in now, offered for it and were accepted within two days. We got lucky, for sure, but also having looked for so long we really knew what we were looking for – things that we hadn’t thought to put on our initial lists as dealbreakers or must-haves.

    And also, not to try to talk yourselves into something. The far-away house is a perfect example. Plenty of times we found ourselves saying ‘and it probably won’t be so bad that [whatever]’. Then, later, we’d think ‘thank goodness we didn’t buy that house, that thing we were trying to justify would have become a real problem!’ We did make some compromises – we do have a longer commute now, but we are near shops and in a walkable area which was more important to us. And we knew going in what we were prepared to be flexible about. Those words ‘it will probably be fine…’ are a big red flag!

    • Pendle Stitches says:

      “Those words ‘it will probably be fine…’ are a big red flag!” Exactly! That’s what we were saying about the far-away house and that’s why we walked away.

      And your right about viewing everything…it completely hones your eye so you can very quickly discount a house, or put it to the top of the list.

      It’s a lot of money that you’re spending…you need to get it right. I’m glad you found the right home for you. 🙂

  6. These are great tips. I wish I had read them before I bought mine. I was overcome by the clean shiny newness – it was a showhome and I was living in a old do’er upper which was a complete building site at the time. I saw it on the Sunday and had bought it by the Monday afternoon. I did completely overstretch myself and have had cause to rue that on more than one occasion since then.
    I do hope that you get the house that you want and find somewhere with excellent broadband. You are in a house for a long time so better to wait until one comes along that ticks all the right boxes. Xx

    • Pendle Stitches says:

      Oh no….although I can completely understand the lure of a shiny new build home. The are so very appealing (we have a couple on our shortlist). But having lived close to the edge financial in previous years the budget is a big thing for me. We are getting closer…. 😉

  7. Carole says:

    Here it comes from the other side of the Atlantic, but I do have over 30 years of selling real estate here. All of your tips are excellent. The one thing I have to add is: use your creativity! If you sew, you are creative. About 90% of my clients could not see past what they were looking at, to see what a house can become. Don’t turn down dirt, don’t turn down repairs, don’t turn down bad smells. You will get what most people turn their noses up at, if you just look at a) the location and b) the lot (garden?). You can do anything to a house if you have those two. Yes, it’s work, but it’s a good investment of your time and your money. Good luck!

    • Pendle Stitches says:

      Absolutely! I can’t believe I missed this off the list! I’ve bought more than one house in the past that people have considered me insane for even contemplating. But you have to look at the bones of the house and see past all the shocking decor, ageing bathrooms and kitchens and weed strewn gardens. What we’re finding at the moment though is that people are selling their doer-upper houses as the price that it would command after all the work has been done. It’s a little crazy and these houses are staying on the market because no-one is willing to pay over the odds!

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