Lifestyle | Help to Buy Experience & Moving Vlog!

I'm finally sharing our moving over on our YouTube channel and I realised I never really chatted about buying our first home on this blog at all. I briefly covered it in my '10 Things That Happen When You Move' post, and I've mentioned it in passing since, but in terms of the hows and whys, nada. So today as well as sharing that vlog with you I thought I'd talk a little bit more about that process.

When You Wish Upon A Vlog Moving Vlog YouTube Thumbnail

To begin with buying a home wasn't on our radar at all. It was something we figured we'd do eventually, but we'd decided not to devote to much time to thinking about it until after we were married as it just wasn't something we thought was feasible for us. The amount we'd have to save for a deposit seemed so far out of reach that it wasn't worth it and as we were young and also happy and comfortable renting it seemed like we had plenty of time to worry about it later on in our lives. When my Mum first hypothetically offered to lend us money for a deposit we even turned her down as property in our area was so expensive that it still wouldn't have been a possibility.

" just wasn't something we thought was feasible for us."

Harry and I first moved out in 2014 into a small one-bedroom flat with one of the cheapest rents in town. It was in one of the nicer neighbourhoods and had everything we needed. We bought furniture that maximised storage in the small space and lived there comfortably for three years until we decided last year we'd really like to upgrade. Our ideal home was walking distance to town, had a balcony, dishwasher and potentially a second bedroom. It was also out of our price range and we realised if we looked just half an hour away we'd get so much more for our money. With new developments springing up over Essex all the time we initially had our hopes that a nice new apartment would be bought to let and available to rent by the time our contract was up.

"We bought furniture that maximised storage in the small space"

For the first time we properly researched exactly what it would take for us to buy a property instead of rent and looked into the various help to buy schemes available, namely Shared Ownership, Equity Loan and Help to Buy ISA. With the Help to Buy Equity Loan you need a 5% deposit and the government loans you the other 20% leaving you with a 75% mortgage. Having looked into some of the Help to Buy developments available to us, albeit slightly further afield, we finally realised that this was something that we might be able to manage so long as we were able to qualify for a mortgage.  At this point we went through an online mortgage calculator with Nationwide (which was surprisingly quick and easy so I'd highly recommend giving that a go) and then met with a mortgage advisor.

Fitting a Bathroom Suite

When we found a set of apartments in September that were due to be ready a month before our current contract ended we set up an appointment with the sales representative and a viewing of the show home.  Although we couldn't walk around any of the actually plots that were for sale, the location was exactly what we wanted and the properties were all being built to the same specification as the show home which was stunning. It's hard to remember exactly what happened as to be honest it was a bit of an adrenaline fuelled blur! Basically there was no sales pitch or bluffing; the rep simply asked us which plot we wanted and got us on the phone with a mortgage broker. Luckily we had all the documents we needed to hand and were able to email them across straight away so we got a 'mortgage in principle' in about an hour. She then went through various paperwork and took a reservation fee. I was in a bit of a stupor at this point as I couldn't quite comprehend that we were actually committing to buy our own place!

" was a bit of an adrenaline fuelled blur!"

Shortly after reserving we were able to go over floorplans and choose tiles, kitchen cabinets and worktops which actually sounds more fun that it was but it helped the fact that we were buying feel a bit more real. The next few months were spent printing and signing paperwork to be sent off in the post and phone calls between the mortgage broker and solicitor. It was a dull process made duller by mistakes and delays and learning a whole new vocabulary of terms. We exchanged contracts weeks after we were meant to due to being in Florida, not being able to contact our solicitor and then Christmas but it didn't matter too much as the expected completion date of our new home was delayed by two months anyway. We were able to have a site visit for the first time just before Christmas and see how the flat was coming along. This was the most exciting part of the process as for so long we'd just been going off of floor plans with no real idea of how it would look and feel. A dark December day wouldn't be my recommendation for viewing your new home for the first time and it did make it seem a little dingy (the fact it was still a building site also didn't help) but being able to walk around and envision how all our furniture would fit was a big reassurance. 

Disney Store Shipping Cardboard Box on Wooden Table

When it came to actually completing you'll know if you read my other post (linked above) that I was anxious about a lot of 'what ifs?' that could go wrong but thankfully all of the money (that's the deposit, help to buy loan, mortgage and solicitors fees) transferred and we were able to pick up the keys as planned. The move actually went really smoothly but that may be due to being able to take our time as we'd had to move out of our rented flat a few weeks before so all of our stuff was at my Dad's house and we were able to move at our leisure. Unfortunately flooring wasn't included in the cost of the property and we weren't able to afford to have it fitted beforehand so Harry and my Dad spent the first few days and the next few weekends laying laminate planks across the whole flat. It's definitely something I'd recommend you spring for if you are faced with a similar choice but let's face it, if you can't afford it you can't afford it! Thankfully there wasn't any snagging that needed to be done and everything worked perfectly except for the extractor fan in the kitchen which was easily replaced by a workman.

If this post has been really boring to read, it's probably because buying a house isn't nearly as exciting as you think it will be! We were so incredibly lucky and grateful to be able to get on the property ladder but aside from the delirious moment of reserving your home, visiting it for the first time and (obviously) moving in, the process is actually really tedious! The fun part starts when you get to buy new things and decorate and that is something I'll be sharing a lot more of on this blog, but for now I hope you enjoy the vlog and this little insight into buying our first home! 




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