My partner and I have only viewed five houses but we have learnt so much! So here’s an insight into our house hunting experiences along with a few tips about looking for your first house!
House number 1:
I was convinced that this was going to be our house, it was in an ideal location, it had a separate dining area, plenty of parking, the bedrooms looked spacious and it even had an extension with a large kitchen leading onto a decked garden.
When we arrived to view the house we realised the driveway was smaller than we thought and it would only fit one car. That didn’t put us off though as the downstairs was great, lots of natural light, a lovely garden and a kitchen that needed just a bit of work here and there.
When we went upstairs our hopes and optimism were quickly squashed, the bedrooms were tiny! You’d just about get a bed and bedside tables in the main bedroom, maybe a small set of drawers at a push. The bathroom also felt squeezed in; in place of a regular door was a concertina style plastic door to allow room for the sink. All of the upstairs radiators were rusted and the windows seemed very draughty in places. It quickly became evident that it would need a lot of updating and even then it would still lack space.
LESSON LEARNT: Don’t fall for clever camera angles and pretty pictures!
House number 2:
This house came onto the market a few weeks later, it seemed to tick a lot of boxes and it was £25,000 below our top budget. We booked a viewing and were told that it was a corporate sale therefore the viewing would have to take place during daylight hours as the utilities had been switched off.
We got to the property and there were already a few people there. We assumed their viewing had overrun… we were wrong! The house was a repossession (aka a corporate sale) and it was an open house style viewing. The downstairs of the property was okay but the upstairs was a disaster: there was a broken and dated bathroom suite, a mouldy and rickety en-suite, a box room with a cot full of babies clothes, rotting window frames, a garden full of toys and broken furniture… the list goes on!
The estate agent informed us if we were to purchase we would have to dispose of any goods left in the house by the previous owners. There was a skip load! We were also informed that if we were to put an offer in on the house it would remain on the open market with the offer advertised. This means anyone could come in with a higher offer at any time until contracts were exchanged. The estate agent also advised us the house needed about £10,000 to get it up to a livable standard; it seemed too much to cope with for first time buyers.
LESSON LEARNT: Beware of “corporate sales”!
House number 3:
We booked viewings for house 3 and 4 at the same time as they were on the same street. However, on the day of the viewing the estate agents called to say an offer had been accepted and the vendor was no longer taking viewings.
A few days after our viewing on house number 3 was cancelled I got a call saying they were accepting viewings again as there was an issue with the offer they had received. On the day of the viewing we were met by a stereotypical twenty-something year old estate agent. He invited us to have a look around on our own then proceeded to follow us into every room! It was a tad awkward.
I decided to take the plunge and ask what the offer they had initially accepted was and what had gone on with the buyers. He quickly caved and told me there was an offer of £134,000 but the buyers money was tied up so they couldn’t go ahead.
The house was okay but it had a bit of an odd layout. The boiler was in the worst place ever and there was very little room for a fridge freezer. Still, it had potential so was on our maybe list.
LESSON LEARNT: Don’t be scared to ask questions!
House number 4:
We went to viewing number four unsure sure what to expect as we had been told the vendors would be showing us round. We thought it might be weird looking round someone’s house with them there! We knocked on the door we heard a dog barking – and as you know we are huge dog lovers so I was excited that I’d at least get to befriend a dog!
To our relief, the sellers were so friendly, they made us feel relaxed about snooping round their home and they gave us so much information about bills, work that had been done on the house and what there was in the local area. We were so impressed with the house and we came away grinning like idiots – we absolutely loved it and could see ourselves living there. The house was immaculate and ready to move into with no work needed.
The only thing we struggled with was the fact it was a little on the smaller side and at the higher end of our budget. It also wasn’t the style of house I wanted, I love period properties with character and this was a newer style build. We both kept saying we needed something to compare it to to get an idea of what else we could get for out money. There wasn’t anything else on the market that we liked and we went to bed that night extremely confused.
LESSON LEARNT: Be prepared for confusion!
House number 5:
The day after viewing number 4, I got a text from my partner saying my dream house had come back onto the market! My heart nearly stopped, it’s a gorgeous 1930s semi-detached just around the corner from where we currently rent. I was so excited and immediately booked a viewing for the following day. When we arrived at the house I was expecting to be greeted by an estate agent, we were instead greeted by the owner who was a lovely elderly gentleman… who happened to be a priest! He welcomed us in, began showing us round and told us his life story.
The house was nice but something was missing. Nearing the end of the viewing the priest wanted asked us what we thought, so I just said it’s lovely – not wanting to say I wasn’t sure. He the wanted to know more about us; I think he wanted the house to go to the right people. He said “it’s lovely when you’ve got married and are looking for your first home”… I swiftly stuffed my hand in my pocket to hide the fact I have no wedding or engagement rings! We quickly thanked him and left before the next people arrived for their viewing.
In the privacy of the car I admitted I didn’t like the house, my partner was relieved and said he hated it! Neither of us could see ourselves living there and the thought of maintaining such a big house was daunting. It would have taken so much time and money to get it to feel like our house that it didn’t seem worth it. I was a little deflated that the dream house didn’t live up to expectations but I was relieved to know that space wasn’t as high on my list of priorities as I had originally thought.
LESSON LEARNT: Prepare for the unexpected!
House number 4 again:
After viewing the “dream house” and not liking it we were straight back to thinking about house number 4. We called the estate agents and asked to book a second viewing, this time during the day so we could get an idea of the natural light and to get a proper look at the garden. It also allowed us to look at it with a renewed perspective after seeing a bigger house with more space.
We went back a few days later and spent time really looking round, taking in the space, the finish of the fixtures and fittings and the garden. The vendor was kind enough to make us a cup of tea and again answered lots of questions. We spent about thirty minutes there in total and asked everything we had forgotten to ask the first time round. We also spent a bit of time chatting with the vendor about their plans for moving as well as talking about our love of dogs.
We went home that evening even more sold on the house, our doubts about the size had disappeared and a lot of our confusion was gone… so watch this space for more news on house number 4!
LESSON LEARNT: Go with what feels right!
Happy House Hunting,
Thrifty Clair x