Hey everyone, in this blog I thought I’d share my experiences of first-time home-buying… not the fun house viewing or rightmove scrolling which I’ll cover another time, but about the true / hidden / unexpected costs of home ownership – from mortgage affordability to, why address changes… This won’t be a glam one, but if you’re looking for a bit of sarcasm and some advice (non-expert) on your own home-buying journey, this one’s for you.
Before you get sucked into trawling through gorgeous homes and being disappointed with what you can(t) afford… the most logical (boring, but sensible) place to start is thinking about… WHAT CAN I REALLY AFFORD?
BUT, I REALLY WANT…
Be realistic with your expectations. If you’re anything like me and waste too much of your valuable life scrolling through picture perfect homes on instagram, you might not necessarily have the most realistic expectations of what you WANT versus what you can AFFORD.
Champagne tastes, prosecco budget springs to mind
Use a mortgage calculator on a comparison site to see what you can really afford based on your (or combined) monthly income + the deposit amount you’ve saved (or kindly had donated by parents please and thank you). Now, imagine your worst paid month (especially if you work on a commission basis or are planning on starting a family with perhaps one income for a while) what will you have in the bank after the mortgage and all your other necessary life expenses has gone out?
It’s also a good idea to check your likelihood of approval before you make an application, you don’t want any rejected applications affecting your credit rating in the future! You can use an affordability calculator or online mortgage broker like Habito, who will give you a ‘mortage in principle’ estimate without any marks against your credit score 🙂
I mean, why they don’t teach us this stuff at school, I’ll never know. Pythagorus hasn’t really come into use, but a way to navigate around mortgages and what all the jargon really means would have. It’s a bit like signing your life away when you buy a home, you’re essentially agreeing up to pay for something every month, that’ll only really be ‘yours’ and not the banks in circa 25 years… lottery win depending (ever hopeful!).
To try and make sense of all of it, I did a lot of reading around online – there are different types of mortgages (who knew) and you have to think about how many years you want to repay, what upfront deposit you can afford, as well just what interest rate you’ll pay (fixed or varied anyone?)
My best advice would be to SHOP AROUND!
USE WEBSITES LIKE MONEYSAVING EXPERT (gotta love a Martin Lewis…) TO COMPARE THE BEST MORTGAGE OFFERS, DON’T JUST ASSUME IT’LL BE YOUR BANK (IT PROBABLY WON’T)!
In the end, we’ve chosen to go with HSBC, they had the lowest fixed 5 year interest rate, which means our monthly payment won’t change for the next 5 years and we know we can afford it each month for at least that long, for peace of mind.
The application process was fairly simple and all online, which if you’re anything like me and hate holding or talking to a robot was ideal!.It can take up to 6 weeks for the application to go through, but we were confirmed within 3 weeks and all ready to roll!
THE EXTRA EXPENSIVE SURPRISES
Now, I bloody love a surprise… but not the sort of expensive surprises you get when buying a home.
If you’re sensible or clued up, you’ll know there is a stamp duty to pay when you buy a house – around £8000 for an average 2-3 bed. First-time buyers can get this waived on properties up to a certain value or often with new builds… but it’s something to budget for.
Then you’ve got the solicitors fees… fun times. About £1500 for lots of very tedious paperwork to read through and sign. Oh, and you have to chase them too.
Not to forget about the homebuyer survey. Now depending on the age of your property, you may want to get a full survey – we opted for the middle ground, which is a homebuyer survey around £600. Which at dozens of pages long is pretty comprehensive. Although survey ended up being a debacle in itself (reported damp when their wasn’t any) it’s super important to get a survey done before committing to owning a property which at worst case could be actually falling down…
Then you’ve got the costs of moving itself… removal vans… boxes… trips to a fro. We used Anyvan.com to move the bulk of our furniture (mostly because it wasn’t precious) and then transported most of our belonging ourselves, in our Ford Focus because we’re gluttons for punishment (removal men are expensive!) If you do use this route, just make sure your anyvan option is insured… and pre-empt you might get a few dents taken out of your doors / walls… they’re about speed, not care!
Oh, and don’t forget…
- House Insurance
- Cancellation costs for any existing utilities you can’t / don’t want to transfer
- Change of address on car insurance … because those few lines of text is a lot of ‘admin’ to charge a fee *rollseyes*
- Postal redirects
- Any outstanding rent for the remainder of any existing tenancy agreements
Once we were in and everything was signed & sealed I’ve never been happier, but they do say moving home is one of the most stressful (and expensive) things you can do in life & I agree.
But, being a homeowner is the best feeling in the world and I love having something that is ‘ours’, so if you can afford it (and when the world goes back to normal) GO FOR IT!
If you’re embarking on your own home-buying journey & my ramblings have been of any use, comment below with any questions you have about buying your first home / moving and I’ll try and pop some more advice in my next blog.
Until next time,
The unexpected costs of home-ownership: a guide for first-time buyersTweet