Buying a house (or attempting to)

Tomathee

Active Member
Evening, just getting into this minefield and have a few general queries that I haven't really been able to find a specific answer to here or elsewhere, and the general forum always has plenty of people with past experience of all sorts. Apologies if anything in the post is naive, there's been a lot to take in even in the small steps we've taken just this far.

Background - Was supposed to sort out moving last year, never got round to it, this year we're taking it seriously, two year old needing a garden to run round in and all that. Currently we're in a flat on shared ownership, looking to move into a house as a 'regular' buyer. Thus far we've picked a solicitor out of three we had a quote from, filled in one set of paperwork for the housing association side of things, had the place valued and are waiting for the next step of them beginning to market it. On the buying side we've had a mortgage in principle done and have been browsing online to see what kind of place(s) we should be aiming for and where, to have a bit of background once we take a step further of contacting estate agents to view.

My first headache is when we should start looking at new places seriously. The housing association has an 8 week period to find a buyer before we can go out to estate agents to sell, and they've largely been useless in other areas so I'm not overly optimistic. On the other hand both the solicitor and valuer commented that in their experience with other properties on the estate things can progress quickly if there are buyers on hand. My concern is either a) we hang around too much and don't have anything on the boil when a buyer comes along and potentially end up back at our parents temporarily between completing selling and moving in, not perfect but could live with it for a while or b) find somewhere but are unable to move forward with offers, or make offer and hold our breath as there is no action on the selling front. This bothers me more as there is a possibility that we find somewhere and begin buying (and paying out money on things) only for seller to pull out due to incompetence on the part of our housing association sending buyers our way so that we can all progress. Partner thinks we should start once ours is advertised but I'm still wary due to the above.

When we went for our mortgage/decision in principle we had figures in mind from various online calculators for what we thought we could afford and what deposit we would have available. At the end of that we had the certificate to confirm our initial idea and show estate agents we were serious etc along with a separate figure of the 'max' that we could borrow. I assume that means agents are fine with bids over and above what is written on these agreements and they're not a ceiling to offers? As a follow up, it's likely ours will reach the three month expiry before we find somewhere so we'll have to get it redone. Should we use our same figures in terms of the mortgage size, or adjust (we'll have a bit more deposit due to extra months of saving and the valuation being higher than expected). I guess here I'm thinking if we get to negotiating and we're giving away our limit from the start, if that's even a thing that happens?

Am I right in assuming that what appears online (rightmove/zoopla/other sites available) is some way short of what goes up for sale and once the time comes to start viewing and offering we may/will find more choice and/or more houses for the money by contacting estate agents directly for properties not yet advertised?

I think that's it, although I'm sure other things will pop into my head later, it's mainly around the overlap between selling/buying but I'm sure most people have been in that position and between everyone involved it moves itself along. Obviously if anyone has tips and comments in general to add please do, it's all useful to hear.

Many thanks for reading and taking the time to offer any advice
 
D

Deleted member 498601

Guest
Hi @Tomathee, I'll give you my thoughts, but alas, that's all they are lol! I'm not sure how long you've been a shared-ownership tenant, or whether you were the first to buy your current home or not (which I think does have a bearing on your experience), but I'm a first-time buyer and we're currently buying a shared-ownership from someone at the moment - the current tenant bought the house as the first owner, so he had a rather quick turnaround on it afaik, due to no chain etc... (which is why I ask if you're the 1st owner of your current home or not).

Our experience so far went a bit like this: We got sent the details of a house by the housing association via email and arranged a viewing. The HA told us that is would be advantageous to have a DIP (decision in principle - same thing as a mortgage in principle), so I went and got one from my bank for the maximum we could borrow. We viewed the house and none of us liked it, so I politely told the HA this.

About 2 months or so later, we got sent the details of another property to look at - similar in size etc., as the first one, in a way better condition/ location, but some £30k cheaper. Then things seemed to happen quite quickly (to begin with anyway...):

  • We viewed the property on a Saturday morning, 1 hour after another potential buyer (whether or not they existed is unknown, but the seller seemed and still does seem like a genuine guy)
  • Prior to the viewing (on the Friday iirc), I emailed the HA and asked them for all of the application paperwork, so that if we liked the property, we could send in the paperwork immediately, instead of having to wait until Monday and juggle it all around work.
  • We loved the house, and filled in the paperwork on the Saturday afternoon and sent to the HA.
  • I tried to ring, then texted the seller our offer on the Monday and he accepted straight away.
  • We got an updated DIP as ours was about to expire - as the amount we had to borrow now was about a third less that the maximum DIP I had sought 2 and a bit months ago, we knew we'd be okay.
  • Applied for our mortgage the following week and had a bit of a hiccup with the bank (HSBC) as they wanted to see documents like the Leasehold agreement, but we couldn't obtain one without a solicitor. As our plan had been to use the one appointed by the bank (from their panel, thus avoiding another £295 bill), but we couldn't have one appointed until after the mortgage was signed, it left us in a bit of a catch-22.
  • I approached the HA for the document, who then told us that the seller or Estate Agent would be able to provide one (a bit confusing as there wasn't/ isn't an estate agent involved!). I eventually got the Leasehold agreement from the seller.
  • Back to the bank...who had the document for a week before telling us that the underwriters at the bank needed to see the leasehold in our name. I then asked the bank how we would obtain a legal document in our name for a property that we'd only looked at and that we didn't actually own yet? The bank came back a few days later to tell us that our mortgage had been approved...
  • We had to wait nearly 2 weeks for the appointment at the bank to sign our mortgage and at that same meeting, I asked about solicitors - we were told that one would contact us shortly...
  • The same day, our solicitor got in touch, introduced themselves and gave use a quote for their services. This quote came in under the other 3 I'd already done, so we selected them.
  • The solicitor sent us a welcome pack and a load of attachments on an email to print, complete and return by post. We did this over the weekend and sent out on Monday.
  • We are now all waiting on the solicitors to do their thing. They've probably been engaged by us for approximately 3 weeks now.
  • From the initial viewing to today has probably been about 6 weeks, maybe less. The solicitor has estimated in the loosest possible terms another month/ 5 weeks to complete.

So, back to your post - From my perspective/ experience, the HA aren't invested in selling the property at all, our initial email with the property details was sent by the HA, but all this was was a generic mail-shot type email, with a photo of the front of a house, a phone number for the seller and asking us to arrange a viewing. Since that initial email, the only time we've involved the HA was to send them email updates on our progress, i.e. when the seller accepted our offer, that our mortgage had been signed, details of our solicitor and so on...
In fact, in one letter from the HA to us, they stated that the selling of the property (well, 30% share of) was solely between us and the seller and nothing to do with them.

I personally think that you need to line up a serious buyer for your share, then start to look at your next property, make offers etc...Shared ownership is a god send for first time buyers imo, so I don't think you'll be waiting long at all once the HA pulls it's finger out and advertises it for sale.

Once you've got a buyer in a similar situation to where I am now (offer accepted, mortgage signed, solicitor details exchanged) then I'd start looking for your property - okay, I could pull out of the purchase now if necessary, but it gets less and less likely that I'd do that as time goes on imo - I know that this does happen, but I honestly do think that the reason to do so would have to be more and more serious the longer it goes on.

I'd also advise that you wait until you've seen something you like the look of before sorting out your DIP, especially if you're confident that you can get a mortgage for what you need. 3 months isn't a long time really for it to expire imo. You should get a DIP for the amount you want to borrow too I think. I do believe that you'd leave yourself open to some 'upwards negotiation' if the seller knew your DIP was over and above what you were offering - cynical? Yes, but I'm usually cynical (or Scottish as my wife says) when I'm the buyer of something!

With regards to online estate agents such as Zoopla or Rightmove, I'd definitely approach local estate agents in person, build a relationship, show interest etc...As a seller, I'd also speak to your HA and find out if they intend to give your property an online presence or not? If not, would they be willing to? The property we're buying has never appeared online anywhere, just an email shot to however many potential buyers were on the shared ownership scheme in our area (I guess anyway).
I suppose one advantage of the HA doing it the way they did is that they have a pot of people who are standing by to buy their first property in your area. You can't guarantee that with Rightmove etc., you can only guarantee that more people see the property, not the right people (i.e. local, ready to move, DIP arranged etc...).

I think that unfortunately in your case, there may well be some overlap, but if you can stay for a few weeks at your parents' with your kit in storage (if necessary), then as bad as that may seem, in a year's time, it'll be just a distant memory :)

I hope some of this helps in some way!
 

Tomathee

Active Member
Thanks Doug that's loads of useful info. Yes it was a new build, around 3 months from viewing to moving in, 6 years ago now. So far the HA have been pretty good, responding to emails and doing their part quickly so hopefully that will continue. Complete opposite of the usual experience with them which is why I've become a bit wary of getting caught out on how quickly things have moved and will hopefully continue to move. We've had to provide photos and brief details and they are due to have someone contact us to go through the viewing stage and onwards. Since my last post we've had a load of forms from solicitor to complete which we're trying to get completed as quickly as possible, despite the level of detail and documents they are asking for.

What I'm hoping/think will happen is that we'll hear from interested people in the next couple of weeks and do some viewings that I'm confident will lead to an offer(s) and progress early on. That should be quick enough that we will be little or nowhere on our own viewings, apart from my intention of viewing one or two that almost fit the bill but not quite, just for benchmarking and so that we can avoid the 'falling in love and buying the first place we view' thing. Then come the time we are looking, we know it's a serious deal and can get on with things.

Definitely with you on three months being nothing, our DIP expires in a week or two and I suspect we'll not be in danger of needing this one. Good idea on waiting to get a new one and using a specific figure, they said we could do it over the phone but we wanted a face to face first time, so next one should be a quick call.

One other thing I missed asking folks opinions on was the whole area of negotiating/offers. From reading around it varies a lot and as I guess should be expected will depend on the individual set of circumstances. I see 10% banded around a lot, or 'start 20% below and come up to 15% below', 'if you're not embarrassed by your first offer it's too high'. I get that it depends on stuff like previous sales in the area, how long it's been for sale, if there are particular things that need rectifying etc, just wondered if there's any other 'rules of thumb' to use. On the one hand I wouldn't want to limit us to only looking at places advertised at or below a certain value when taking into account a negotiation/haggle or whatever we call it could mean certain (hopefully nicer) places advertised above said limit become within reach. And likewise I wouldn't want to edge upwards assuming that we'd negotiate down to our budget and end up with a string of disappointments and wasted time for all.

Many thanks again for reading and replying
 

SteveCritten

Distinguished Member
Offers do depend. I am the biggest advocate for "negotiating" but I have offered asking once. In fact it was on the one I just purchased. It was a bungalow that was up for £140k and it had been up for months as it was over priced. Needed new kitchen and bathroom. I had sort of decided I would put an offer in for £120k but I was buying some others that were better value but that fell through. Miraculously the owner of the bungalow suddenly became desperate to sell quickly and brought the price down to £120k on the Friday so I booked a viewing asap and went on the Saturday morning. They had 5 viewings already on the Friday so I offered the asking as I knew it was worth that and people would offer the same and I didn't want to lose it (for reasons I don't want to discuss on a public forum).
 

Tomathee

Active Member
Thought I would update for anyone else that comes by in a similar situation.

We were contacted by the estate agent acting on behalf of the HA fairly quickly after the valuation, with more forms to complete and a draft advert to correct. While that was going on they forwarded a couple of people to do viewings within a day or two, must have been on an existing contact list. A few days later it went online, more viewings, within 6 days we'd had a steady stream of 5-6 viewings, a few of which were definitely interested and went off to do the application to the HA, one of which had already done it through missing out on another of their homes so we accepted. We've just had the memorandum of sale and a request for someone to visit to do their mortgage survey. All smoothly on that side of things it seems.

On the buying side we've been contacting more and more estate agents and stalking rightmove. Typically in the weeks before viewings and offers there was a decent amount around and now it feels like it's gone a bit quiet but I'm not sure if that's us narrowing our requirements down. Possible viewing on Friday to look forward to, she likes it a lot but I'm not convinced so it will be a good bench marker if nothing else. One 'headache' I've been having is nudging our budget upwards, firstly when we reached another savings milestone in the year plus that we've been beating around the bush, then with the good news from the valuation, and then with browsing online with a view of listed prices around 10% over what we actually want to/can afford to spend.

Surprisingly I haven't really had any hurdles or questions that I've to add on here. One thing I'm curious on is peoples experiences of waiting times. Such as we could potentially be waiting around for an undetermined length of time for the right house to come up whilst our buyer is waiting for ours to be vacant. Specific dates haven't been mentioned yet but they seem keen so I imagine it won't be long before it comes up. We're keen to move and don't want to drag it out to the point they drop out but obviously don't want to rush into somewhere we don't really want either. Wondered what others have done in that instance, apart from offering assurance that we're looking all the time I'm not sure there's anything else to be done?

Thanks for reading & any comments
 

aerodynamic18

Distinguished Member
Tbh if we ever sell our house we are in and can't find a house we love we will move into rented accommodation for a while. This will not jeopardise the sale and also make sure we don't buy the wrong property. This is exactly what was done when I was growing up and worked well.
 

busterbenny2001

Distinguished Member
We sold our pub a few years back, had nowhere found to buy, took the kids to spain for a month came back bought a caravan lived in it for 6 months in a camp site beofre we found our house!!

Cheap great way to save a bit more and you will be a buyer ready to go.
 

Fat_Tony

Distinguished Member
Ive taken tenants on a short term let aswell. Generally because they were house hunters and couldnt commit to a year. In both cases they ended up wanting to stay longer than the initial period agreed as home buying always seems to take longer than expected.

If you speak to your local estate agent, they might know a landlord who would be willing to be flexible for a short term let.
 

Tomathee

Active Member
To further update, hard to believe it's now almost a month since we sold. Apart from the aforementioned survey taking place last week nothing has really happened on the selling front.
On the buying side we had a couple of days off last week after a holiday and lined up a dozen or so viewings. Before I was chilled but now I see where the comments about such a stressful experience come from, and it's only just beginning. Only two panned out into us wanting to make offers. We both liked them equally and knew the pros and cons of each against the other. Finally decided when one revealed they wouldn't drop below a certain price to meet the price of their next home (after having us sweat over night, bizarre tactic?), and the counter offer on the other was close enough to make it silly making a second offer in between. It was also cheaper and needed less work doing (next town along the dual carriageway but due to roads/traffic circumstances is similar travel time to our most regular destinations). That was Saturday so we're now waiting to see what's next. We've had an up to date decision in principle done so I guess there will be forms and paperwork from solicitors and estate agents to look forward to.

Obviously getting a mortgage sorted out is a biggie for us to do now. One thing we've had over the course of contacting estate agents is them promoting their mortgage advice/consultants and whatever else they may be called. Are these worth using rather than trying to suss it out on individuals websites/branch appointments? It was handy seeing their comparison tool with a load of lenders but is there a catch? I thought cost, I think one was £499 however they had a buyers incentive thing of £1k, so overall they're giving you money unless I missed some of the spiel. Also potential really dumb question but this one is a different estate agency to the one we went through an hour or so with filling out details and looking through offers and rates etc, can/should we stick with this one or go through it all again with the agent that sold to us?

Now we finally have somewhere with a price we can start thinking about what deposit to put down and what to keep back for improvements and other savings/rainy day type stuff. I've gone by the % loan to value and we agreed a while ago that 90% is a good target (rather than 90-95%). Going more in doesn't make a large difference in monthly cost until the 85% mark. Now I see that 85% is reachable but leaves almost nothing leftover, but in our situation it would be almost £100 less on the monthly payment. Another headache for the pile.

Thanks for reading
 

Solomon Grundy

Distinguished Member
Definitely check which legal services provider is sorting out the paperwork. Currently remortgaging and forced to use LMS www.lms.com and their "trackmycase" feature and they are useless. Actually they are worse than useless to the point of ineptitude. I would advise anyone to select another lender rather than deal with them. They are either lazy or just plain stupid. Everything takes ages, they lie about not having paperwork which has already been confirmed as received previously. So far their delays will cost me over £300 in interest but I'm not holding my breath in the hope that it won't go higher.
 

SteveCritten

Distinguished Member
I use a broker these days, somebody I know well who gives me a preferential rate but it saves most of the hassle and paperwork side. Some providers will only give some of their products via a broker anyway. I always go for the one that is cheapest after the fees etc.
In your situation I would stick with the 90% and have enough for the renovations, you can always refinance at a later date when the renovations are done when hopefully the revaluation will mean it's at a better % loan to value.
 

Tomathee

Active Member
Cheers guys, after speaking further found out that the guy recommended by the agent we're buying from is independent and free (guess he gets money from whoever we go with). In terms of renovations I might have overstated a bit before but it needs almost nothing doing outside the usual decorating. I have a bit of an idea floating about getting a garage or outbuilding on the off-road parking space but that's a bit of a way off. Today's headaches were around fixing or not. Using the same building society calculators we've been using for ballpark figures this far it's about £80 a month extra to fix for 5 years over 2. The tracker cost was the same as the fixed cost, wasn't really sure why, thought it would be dearer to fix it?
I'm also struggling to wrap my head around the chain/completion routine. We were first timers before into an empty place so straight forward, think we completed one afternoon and moved in the following day. As we have our seller and his seller plus perhaps others further along it maybe asking the obvious but how does that work come moving day? They can't move until they receive the readies from us, and we can't move until we receive the same from our buyers etc. Does everyone move on the same day, aka sellers seller, then seller, then us, then our buyer? If so then it's a bit added hassle for us being shared ownership as they collect keys from us rather than agent so could turn up anytime after the money is sent over, if what I've read is correct? I had thought of an idea where, if we were to go with the 10% deposit for our new place we can just about cover that with savings alone, so could potentially do the completion on new home and be covered (seems to be that sellers should be out around lunchtime-ish, so I guess that maybe gets pushed later into the day the further down the chain it gets?), and give ourselves even a day or two before the completion on our sale for moving out? Don't know what the potential issues might be there that I'm not aware of.
 

SteveCritten

Distinguished Member
The potential issue is one slack solicitor goes for a long lunch and misses the deadline, usually around 3pm. Yes all have moneys have to be sorted at the same time.
 

Tomathee

Active Member
Thanks Steve, the other alternative we have is completing our sale and using one of our parents spare room for a night or two until we complete our purchase. May mean hiring a van twice for the bigger furniture but it might be worth it to save on hassle. Fairly sure I'm going to rent some storage for a few weeks once we have dates confirmed either way. Problem with a flat is we can start packing but there's nowhere to put filled boxes. Add in a nosey child and I wouldn't get very far. Benefit of this is I can pack off anything that will fit in my car gradually in the weeks leading up to moving day(s), hire a van for the bigger stuff and any spare time use it to empty the smaller stuff back, then do the leftovers with car in the days after.

First hiccup the other day, our sellers lost out on a house they had been negotiating on. Agent said they had several viewings lined up this weekend so hopefully a positive update tomorrow from them. No other movement really. We had a form to send our solicitor with details of where we are buying but I think I'll sit on that until we hear that the chain is complete, don't want to start paying for surveys and searches etc. We also met the independent mortgage adviser I mentioned. Very useful and informative, although couldn't get as far as planned due to the aforementioned issue.
 

Tomathee

Active Member
This has gotten way more complicated since I last posted....

End of June our buyer withdrew, "work relocation". As our seller still hadn't found anywhere we kept quiet while agent pushed some more viewings through, thought it may benefit us as it gives them more time to find something without any pressure from our buyer. One of those was successful around a week later. A day or two after our seller also found somewhere and so chain complete. Now all of a sudden seller estate agent is on for progress update (would have been around 6 weeks since original offer) and I assume through communicating with our agent finds out about the change in buyer (they suggested keeping quiet on the withdrawal obviously so that our purchase wasn't pulled out of). Did mortgage application through independent advisor, says give it two weeks. After the two weeks chase it, he chases and turns out they won't offer us what we need. Reason given - our son goes to his grandparents 4 days a week and nursery 1 day, they say if our parents became unable to look after him we wouldn't be able to afford full time nursery?! Not sure how that's any different to the risk of things like job loss or another baby but that was that. Their offer was something stupid like only £6k below what we wanted as well so highly annoying. Financial guy found another deal, slightly cheaper monthly but no cashback, which we didn't really need too badly anyway. That was the other day so now we're waiting for that to be approved (had a message to say it's being underwritten, whether that means it's further than original application I don't know).

On the selling side we're waiting to hear about their lender doing a survey, been a bit quiet but agent says that could take two weeks, so more waiting.

Stupid as it sounds I'm still trying to get my head around moving day and the idea people can be sitting outside the new place with a van full of stuff. Brother has offered his spare room for me to put all the non-essential stuff in gradually (books, DVDs etc). But even so I can't see how everything else will go in one trip - sofas, wardrobe, chests of drawers, dining table and chairs etc. We're not exactly round the corner so it would take most of the day to do the two or possibly three I think it would take, even with as much cleared in the weeks before as I can. Obviously we have to be out for them to move in so the only way I can see around it is the completion day of our purchase is a different day (before) completion of our sale. Otherwise it's van hire twice for storage and then onwards etc, all getting very confusing.....
 

Sandman

Distinguished Member
I don't think you will be get access to both houses at the same time. The keys for the new place wont be released until you have handed in the keys for your old house.
 

Tomathee

Active Member
The roller coaster continues....

We had our survey done on the place we're buying, hear that it's gone through and they've sent a mortgage offer, beginning of last week we finally hear our buyers survey is booked. Next day phone call, buyers have had a domestic and separated... No point repeating the parts that can be repeated in public but safe to say I was irritated.
Luckily agent had someone who had recently missed out on a property in the area. They were interested and so we agreed to them viewing same day, cue girlfriend doing a rush job on tidying up the de-cluttering/non-essential packing we had started. He wanted it, was already approved for the shared ownership hurdles, went with the same solicitor so they could carry over the searches already started/done. Did mortgage application within a couple of days and now waiting to hear back on that. In the meantime I think our buyers and those above haven't dropped out yet, although I can't imagine there will be much more patience as I know from estate agent calls that some or all are ready to exchange...
 

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