Stay Sane When Buying a House
In ideal world, we’d all stay living in the sprawling stately home our parents raised us in, adding on a wing or two when we need more space for children, horses and parties. Back to reality though, and the evil trifecta of house prices, mortgage rates and school catchment areas will pursue us through most of our adult life.
We’ve all heard versions of the saying that moving house is more stressful than divorce, childbirth etc. and although these things are hard to quantify, there’s no doubt that buying and selling property is no fun. Unless you’re a property developer. So what can you do to mitigate the pain of this miserable trial by real estate? We looked to the experts for answers:
- Sort out your finances in advance. As soon as you start house hunting, take a realistic look at your budget, and seek an “agreement in principal” from your mortgage broker. It’s not a cast iron guarantee that you will be approved for that amount, but will make it much more likely. As for working out how much you can afford, pick a home that costs 2 to 3 times your annual income. This should prevent you from biting off more than you can chew.
- If you’ve done the above and are feeling a bit overwhelmed by the cost of your new place, consider a “trial run”. Try putting aside all the extra money you will have to haemorrhage (I mean invest) in your new property per month, including all the upfront costs of house-moving (stamp duty, removal fees, surveyors etc). Just see how it feels. Then move back in with your parents…
- What can you compromise on? When selecting a new home, decide what are real “must-have’s”? Accept that compromises must be made. A big house with a garden within walking distance of work that has a natural spring-fed swimming pool and a basement gym? You know that’s not going to happen. So sit down and decide what elements of a new home will really make a difference to your daily life.
- Be savvy with your offer. You don’t want to offer too low and miss out, but going high can make you seem desperate. Research similar homes in the area: what was their asking price? What did they go for? How long has this one been on the market? Could the seller be even more desperate than you?
- Get a lawyer. Property law is not something you want to take on yourself, so ask friends and family for a good solicitor who will help you with the paperwork. Someone friendly, open and trustworthy.
- Arrange that survey! Employing a surveyor to check for things like damp and subsidence could save you a lot of money in the long run, and give you peace of mind now.
- Declutter your old place. Moving is a great time to sort your beloved belongings from the random stuff you’re hoarding in the attic, so take the opportunity to have a good clear-out. Why not extend this to service providers too? You’ll need new broadband and energy suppliers in your new home, so do the research now to find the best deal.
- Consider the practicalities. When moving day comes, you’ll be juggling workmen, cardboard boxes, paintings wrapped in blankets, not to mention stressed, confused children and pets. And who’s going to cook dinner? With a bit of forward planning, this need not be the worst day of your life. Enlist friends and family to help with cooking and childcare, get a supply of packing materials a few weeks in advance, and don’t forget to book the removals company as soon as you have a moving date, because the good ones in any area get booked up fast.
Now go forth and enjoy your new home!