Wednesday, 13 February 2013

The Cost of Moving Home

Once all is said and done, moving house can be a very expensive endeavour.  Here is the costs of our move, it is amazing what you don't factor in and then you figure out that some things cost more than you thought, so if this assists anyone else budget for this undertaking, then marvellous.  

We tried to be as thrifty as possible, DIYing our move where we could, but the costs soon add up even if you take this approach.  

The first expenditure would usually be made to your mortgage company of choice.  We paid the following, although, I am sure other lenders would charge less, and just as many would charge infinitely more: 
£99 Arrangement Fee 
£290 Survey Fee 

Now lets consider solicitors fees, we chose a company that we had used before when we purchased our first flat, they had been recommended to us by a colleague all those years ago.  They have very reasonable fixed rates based on the purchase and sale prices of the property, and are one of the cheapest options for conveyancing in our local area.  I would recommend them,  even though I had to chase them a couple of times to get things moving, I think this is the same with expensive conveyancing firms as well, so no harm no foul.  Their business website is here

We paid the following for all services related to the sale and purchase of the properties:
£50 - Deposit
£123 - Local Search Fee
£280 - Land Registry Fee
£436 - Fees Sale
£488 - Fees Purchase

Stamp duty will be charged at 1% of the purchase price if below £250,000, and then 3% if over £250,000.  

You will need to find the bones for a house survey, where a full survey will cost you around £1000, and the basic survey will set you back around £300.  We managed to score ours for free which was awesome, read about that here.  

Estate agents fees are paid directly to the solicitor, and we got a great deal, as explained here for only 1.5% of the sale price, not sure if you could get less, but many certainly charge a much higher fee. 

Get as many boxes as you can for free from your local supermarket, which we did, but we needed to top this up with a cheap Internet package deal so we had enough for all of our bits and bobs, plus don't forget rolls of bubble and shrink wrap to protect your valuables.  All in all I estimate we spent £80.  

Once all your valubles are packed, you need to move them to your new address.  
£65 - Van Hire
£50 - Parking ticket, well you do a daft thing like forget to put in your permit, you pay the price - Boo! 

Takeaway for the helpers you enlist to move your stuff £50 - well it is a darn site cheaper than a removals company.  Although depending on the size of your house you may need more than one brother-in-law at a loose end, so increase your food bribe budget accordingly.  

Moving is an expensive business, do you have any tips to share to keep the costs down?

Friday, 8 February 2013

Our New Home

Our new house was nearing completion, it was in the area that we wanted, it had a large garden, the indoor space and the bedrooms we needed wanted, it had the all important space to extend into the loft, and it was well under our budget even though we slightly overpaid for the property to be in the area we wanted.  

The downside, was the state of repair, it had sold, and then the buyer pulled out due to the survey results.  At 40 pages long, it did not make happy reading.  We had spotted most of the issues (damp, dodgy electrics, shoddy DIY etc.) when we viewed the property, so we had done some mental calculations on what the initial renovation costs would be to get it to a habitable standard, and how far our savings would take us.  We figured the initial chunk of renovations we could cover no worries.  Plus, score one for us, as the vendors were so jumpy about the survey putting us off, we were given a full structural survey report for free, saving us about £1000.  Which, let's not beat around the bush, we would totally need later for rectifying the 40 pages of terror.  

Undeterred, and flush with the success of getting a great sale price for our flat, that added to our DIY and decor prowess getting us the price we wanted, we were all in for the renovation of our second property.  The fact that we got full asking price even though the estate agents said we would get £5000 less than we did (yep, they definitely got an "I told you so") over inflated my ego, this was not helped by a gazillion hours in front of design blogs, decor magazines and DIY TV, we foolishly thought "yep, a reno project is for us, we can totally do this".  Famous last words...!

The pictures below are from the agent's sales particulars and really do not show the full extent of the horrors that awaited us.  It all looks rather inoffensive and slightly charming, almost on trend 'shabby chic' style.  The husband hated it the first time we saw it, shows how much he knows, as just a few short months later, here we are.  

Kerb appeal?
Quaint living room
Ample sized dining room
Good sized kitchen
Downstairs bathroom - not ideal! 
P.S. The pictures of the bedrooms are notable by their absence, when viewing the master bedroom, it was home not to a bed but to a model railway! Choo choo indeed.

Photos Courtesy of Right Move and Hastings

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Sold! the housing game, you kiss a few frogs before you find the one, we saw 7 properties in all, and really really loved only one of them.  It was huge, Edwardian, brimming with period features, the only down side for us was the area, it was in between a village and the town, but was not close enough to either.  Fate intervened and as we were still waiting for ours to sell when it sold. 

There were another two properties for sale in the area we really wanted to move, in fact they were both on the same road, a bit more in the thick of things. Both houses were less than what you would call 'aesthetically pleasing'.  The one we discounted first was one ugly beast, complete with mock stone cladding (thanks 1980s, that's on you), but cladding removal would add a bucket load of cash if we came to sell, for the cost of some elbow grease and a professional rendering company to come pretty it up once the bricks have been exposed.  We ruled it out as it did not have space to go into the loft to create a master suite we had been mooning over.   The other, well the other was a bit prettier, slightly larger, but in a terrible state of repair, but again while we were waiting for ours to sell, it sold too. 

So our flat went on the market on 18th Feb 2012, and we had a small number of viewings, but no real interest.  As explained before, the sole agency agreement was not working for us initially, so once the contractual tie in was up we went with several other local agencies varying in price from 1% of the sold value to the most expensive, a fixed fee of £2500.  

Then hallelujah, after an eternity (well 3 months) on the market we sold for £1000 under the asking price, with one of the more expensive estate agents.  As we had accepted the offer on our flat we promptly made an offer on our future home which was accepted, so sold and purchased all in one day...done and dusted.  

Or so we we started to chase for firm dates of exchange and then completion to keep the rest of the chain happy, our buyers seemed to go very quiet.  Lo and behold, they pulled out just as we were nearing the contract exchange date, they kept us hanging for just over a month.  I saw on the TV the other day, that 1 in 3 sales fall through, which we can testify too, as the property we bought, had also previously sold and fallen through as well.

We were extremely lucky, all of the vendors in our chain agreed to give us 2 weeks to sell again, it served them well, as we managed it in just under 4...we were thrilled as this time we sold for the asking price, with the cheapest agency, they were the ones we had the sole agency with, so they really came through for us in the end.    

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

For Sale! Part 2

So, the husband had been made redundant, and we had, in haste, removed the house from the market to take stock.  With a devil may care attitude and a couple of job irons in the fire, we decided it was now or never.  So, the flat went back on the market just two weeks after it was removed, and we started to look around again for properties we liked.   

There was not a lot of properties we were interested in, new houses lacked the character we were looking for, anything built in the 60-90s again just was not floating our boat.  So we narrowed it down to either Victorian or Edwardian properties, which are pretty abundant in our locale.

The first one we liked the particulars of was a Victorian mid-terraced town house over 4 floors, just two roads away from where we were living at the time.  It had loads of room, with a basement kitchen diner with an adjoining family bathroom, an additional 2 reception rooms at ground level, two bedrooms and a shower room, and an attic bedroom at the top of the house.  It was brimming with original fireplaces, doors and other sought after period features, so we booked in a viewing.  It wasn't until we went to visit the property that we realised how much the property would cost to purchase and then renovate.  

It was being marketed by an on-line only sales agency as a three bedroom, mid-terrace, the second of the 2 larger bedrooms was a concern straight away.  With our trusty torch, and some googling before we returned for anther visit we figured out it was not a bedroom at all, instead, it should have been classified as a loft room.  When you see a loft room mentioned in the sales particulars, it means some work to make it a room has been done but it is not up to building regulations for it to be a habitable space, if you are in this situation, you need to see the sign off from the local authority planning department to verify that you are buying a bedroom, if a vendor has an indemnity policy for the works, this does not constitute sign-off, instead it is to receive a payment if the room ever has to be removed.  

A loft that conforms to building regulations, must have steels inserted to take the weight of the new room, it must have a self closing fire door either at the top or bottom of the permanent staircase, and it must have mains smoke detectors, these are only some of the requirements, but in my limited experience, these are the things to easily spot by their presence or more worryingly by their absence. 

So, for a 2 bedroom house, this was hugely overpriced for the area, so even though we loved it, we walked away.  The head should always have a say, and not let the heart take over.    

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Readying Your House for Sale!

Update: Check this out, it seems pets are the new craze on how to stage your home.

So I employed some tactics I learnt from the TV and Internet on this one.  Who knew idle web surfing and staring at the TV could be so useful.  Really though, the basics are just common sense, but I bet all present and previous house hunters will be able to tell you some stories, I know I certainly can.  

My 'go to' threesome for selling houses are Phil Spencer, Kirstie Allsopp and Sarah Beeny!  Thanks to them or all the tips, and the great excuse to watch their shows unhindered as one could claim they are research.  

First things first, get all of those odd jobs that seem to hang around for ages done and dusted, loose handles on drawers, chipped paint, blown bulbs etc.  Second, clean everything to within an inch of it's life, which means getting someone in for ovens, carpets and any other specialist job that may be relevant for your property.  Lots of domestic help companies offer packages for home owners who are buying and selling, not too dissimilar to the ones offered for end of tenancy.

Being a slattern when it comes to household chores is fine, it is me about 50% (OK, the proof reading husband is making me up this to 75%) of the time too, but when you are selling up everything has to be pristine ALL OF THE TIME.  Anyone interested in viewing your property does not want to see grease and grime, or your knickers drying on the radiator - put them a way for heavens sake.  Doing these simple things will show the prospective buyer that the house is well maintained, a grimy oven or a house in a bad state of repair will make a buyer become suspicious about what horrors you are hiding, and then the bottom line is they will be wondering how much it would cost them to fix it up.  

Next I removed any extraneous furniture, photos and ornaments, this is to make it look as spacious as possible, and to remove the 'you' from your house, this is simple, it will enable a buyer to imagine themselves in your house more easily, better for example than if dour great aunt Elsie is staring at them from the mantle.  

We would say our house looked very boring and not homely at all when we did this, I think we overdid the de-personalisation of the flat.  In my head I thought this was a good plan as my husband and I had made a bold choice of sofa that other people and sometimes us would not like.   
The living room with newish flooring and a fresh 
lick of paint
The kitchen post renovation completed 2010
The bedroom as we left it in October 2012
Lets now discuss, dogs, cats, children and us the home owners.  Out you go!  People like to bad mouth your style and decor in private, don't want to be slobbered on, sniffed, nibbled or peed upon and that's just the children!  You can go back in at the end of the viewing so you can answer any questions they may have thought of.

Now, if you think I am anti child or pet, think again, I have a dog, but let's alienate another group of which I am a member, yes, that would be the smokers.  Just don't, it literally stinks and stains everything, so as a general rule, never smoke indoors, buyers will be grossed out, and your lovely decor will always be ruined before you begin, as the nicotine literally seeps through paint.  Not to mention what it does to your insides.  

Finally, right before a viewing, the flat would get a thorough air out for as long as possible, it is less obvious than a sickly smelly plug in, and fresh bread and coffee smells selling houses is just ridiculous.  Plus in our case, it showed how quiet our old neighbourhood was, it is actually a really busy area, which may have put people off, so the ones we got through the door, we made sure they knew noise wasn't an issue, being set back those crucial metres from the road made all of the difference.  

Any hints and tips on selling your house you have found invaluable?  Let us know!

Photos courtesy of Rightmove and Sansome & George

For Sale! Part 1

Fast forward to 2012, we had done a bit of being thrifty, so had moolah in the bank, our house 'to do' snagging list was almost complete.  We were ready to go, for realsies this time!

We have had valuations done over the years to see where we were at but never could take the plunge.  We either did not have enough equity in the flat or enough bones in the bank, or in the very early days both.  So the fact we only planned to live there for a couple of years before moving up the ladder was merely a nice idea, but in real life wholly impractical.

Come sale time, the housing market was not our friend, she was a cruel mistress, as back at the top of the boom, we could have put the flat on the market for £10k more than we did back in Feb 2012, and that was without all the renovations.   

Luckily we had made our purchase prior to the ceiling being reached on house prices in the area so we were not working with negative equity, score one for us.  We were not going to get back all the money we had put into the property, but as some of the money spent was maintenance to have it at a decent state of repair, we accepted this as normal and we were in a position to take a small hit, all the while thinking in the back of our minds that it would help us sell as lots of people love a place you can dump your stuff in and call it home without all of the faffing around with paint and expensive repairs, one lucky new owner was going to get a maintenance free pad for a good while to come.  

So we got hoards of estate agents round to value the property, some were being wholly unreasonable, some were more pragmatic, advising they believed it would sell quickly for £X, but giving us the flexibility to put it on for a figure we found reasonable.  We were in no rush, and priced it what we thought it was worth, and what we thought the all important new owner would pay.   

So initially we went with a sole agency agreement with a local firm, meaning you cannot market the property with another agent, and in return you get to pay a lower fee for the sale.  We went with the cheapest company, which initially did not work for us, in all fairness a freezing cold February does not a buoyant house market make.  Plus for such a small fee, where was the incentive!

Two weeks into operation 'For Sale', we hit a speed bump, the husband was getting made redundant, and the property was promptly removed from the market so we could take stock and decide how to proceed. 

Puppy Love!

So, we were about to become doggie parents, we called up our niece and said as no-one had come forward to adopt her last remaining puppy, that we would, as we had discussed it fully and came up with a plan on how we could manage this huge responsibility while working full time. 

But first we needed some time to get ready for the puppies home coming.  We visited our new puppy so she knew us before she came home, and put worn clothing in her bed so she knew out scent.

We had two weeks to make the flat puppy proof, we went and got all of the supplies we needed, found a puppy training class for when her jabs were completed and bleached the outside concrete areas of our flat so we had a space to potty train in, as she was still not fully vaccinated.  We cleared our new addition with our respective bosses so we could take at least 3 weeks between us working from home, in this time we would potty and crate train, and start her training so she could be left for some time for when we were due to return to work.

This is the day she came home aged 11 weeks, so she had lots of time with her doggie mama, our nieces' dog called Lolly, who was sent to the reputable breeder that she came from to get it on with a studly doggie daddy called Charlie. 

Coming Home!
Crate training 101

The Decision to Move

By the time we left our first property, in the 8 or so years we lived there, we had decorated every room twice.  We had replaced all of the flooring with hard wearing laminate, replaced all of the light fixtures and fittings, replaced all of the door hardware, the sockets and switch plates, spent hours glossing the miles of skirting and architrave, and the 7 brown doors, each taking 7 coats of paint each side.  

We spent a lot of our hard earned funds getting the trades in to do the complicated stuff, fit a new boiler, fit a shower and re-tile the bathroom, fit double glazing, and fit a new kitchen.  We upgraded our budget IKEA furniture with slightly less budget IKEA pieces and even branched out to purchase a Scandinavian designer arm chair (it was majorly discounted as was shop soiled, so we were on to a winner). 

We had done everything, except the hall way, and a few decorative bits and bobs we had planned such as a travel picture frame wall, it was almost perfect.  

We had toyed with the idea of moving in the past, but saving money was never our strong suit and once we had saved up a little, we would jet off on an adventure, and that would be bye bye savings, and hello larger credit card bill....yes I know very naughty but there we go. 

Then one fateful day we decided to visit my husbands niece, this was in April 2011.  I was given a lecture before we made the 10 minute walk to their house just up the road...let's just say, in hindsight, that lecture should have been listened to by the husband more than me.  

We got there, and visited with our brand new great nephew born in the February 2011, he was adorable, cute as a button.

Babies, so cute!
It was not the adorable squidgy cute baby that started us on the fateful path to where we are today...Nope, not was this!

Chihuahua Puppy
Cuteness overload!

A teeny tiny 8 week old Chihuahua puppy, and this was the day we met her.  So you can guess the content of the lecture I got from the husband, that's right, it was not the baby lecture, it was a puppy lecture.  It was all very well reasoned that we don't have a garden, we work full time, let's not get excited, we are just going to see the puppies, not take one home, you get the idea!

I quote my husband verbatim now when we walked home "I love her"...and that is how our family grew to 3.  I was secretly thrilled as I was just as gaga about the tiny pooch as he was!

Now, we needed to make some changes, we needed to save, we needed a garden, so the journey to move began! 

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Dipping Our Toes

So our first flat is where our DIY journey began...we started small and learnt as we went along, making our home.  Let's just say the first shelf we ever put on a wall was not even close to straight, but it never fell down, so we didn't give up.

Our first attempt at decorating and home making looked like this, a step up from the original beige we started out with when we moved in with only 2 deck chairs and a blow up mattress.  

Our teeny tiny 80s kitchen
The Husband, just after our nuptials in Oct 2009, we were in a brown phase!

Money was tight so we did it all on a very limited budget, we decorated throughout, after all paint is pretty cheap and you get instant bang for your buck.  

We also tried our hand at laying a laminate floor in our tiny kitchen, it looked fine considering it was pretend wood and very cheap.  As I chose to ignore the step where you remove the existing floor and put down underlay, it squeaked relentlessly until it was ripped out in 2010 when we renovated the kitchen.

All our furniture came either as less than stylish hand-me-downs, but mainly from Ikea, a great place for any new home makers looking for budget furniture and accessories, if fact, it is still our go to store to this day for various bits and bobs.  Although I must say now-a-days, we are less wall to wall out of the pages of the catalogue, and have now mixed and matched with other brands, thrifted, and vintage.

Where it all Began!

My husband and I are not newbies at this house buying lark, in June 2004, we sunk our meagre savings into our very first abode.    It was all we could afford as we were still in our early twenties, and I was fresh out of University.  It was all ours (scratch that, it was the banks!), and it was great!  

We bought a very sensible, solid 1980s one bedroom, ground floor flat, with plenty of storage, located just outside town, in a slightly less than salubrious neighbourhood.

We spent the best part of our twenties here, this was the first place my husband (then fiance) and I shared together, it was where we became husband and wife, we called it 'home' until October 2012.  

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