Shit, 35 years, how old will I be when it ends?
That was what was going through my head when I first received my mortgage offer for the cute little house myself and Dan are lucky enough to have bought. Somehow getting a mortgage doesn’t seem so scary when all you’ve done is think or talk about it – but seeing it written down and signing up to 35 years of repayments however is terrifying! Despite the fear, it is the best thing I have ever done and am so proud of myself; I was a 23 year old homeowner, something I never thought I could achieve! So, with that in mind, I am writing this post to walk you through some of the process of being a first time buyer, busting some myths and also letting you know that if you are saving for a house, yes you can do it!
Step 1 to buying a house: Commitment.
You have to really want to buy a house, in order to buy it – it’s a whole bloomin house! It is not a handbag that you can skip a meal out and use the money to buy it instead, you really need to save all you can. This is assuming you are not rich AF and if you are, lucky you, please share the wealth with your fav blogger right here 😉 So myself and Dan got together in summer 2012. We decided probably around Easter 2013 that actually, we rather liked each other and yes we want to live together. Renting for us wasn’t ever an option – we didn’t have the urgency of having to move out of our family homes so we didn’t need to do it. I realise not everyone is in that situation but I will say avoid renting when you can (I know if you are madly in love with someone you just want to shack up but holding off is way best in the long run!).
So after we made the decision to save up for a deposit on a house, that is exactly what we did. We didn’t book holidays together, we didn’t go for meals out unless it was celebrating something, we didn’t spend a fortune on clothes or anything else. We properly saved. I took on another job teaching hair styling one night a week and saved my earnings, when really all I wanted to do was hit the city and go shopping mad!
I have heard so many people ‘wanting to buy a house’ but they go on a night out every weekend or go on foreign holidays twice a year – things I would have loved to do but had to sacrifice in order to save. If you are one of these people, you really can do it, promise, just put the effort in and believe! Also, there is a lot of help from the government at the moment (thank you Mr Cameron!) for first time buyers. We utilised the ‘help to buy’ scheme and only had to pay a 5% deposit, which yes is still a lot of money but it is a damned sight less than if you bought a house not using that scheme. Also, there have now been the help to buy ISA’s introduced. Unfortunately I was too late to get one of these but as long as you are saving a certain amount each month, the government will top this up and essentially give you money! You can have one each also which is handy to know, if you save the full amount and have one each in a couple buying a house you could get £6,000 from the government! (If you want to read about this more, click here, it explains it better than me.)
Step 2: Choosing the right house.
All I will say is, if you are buying your home with a partner, be prepared to fall out. You can absolutely guarantee that one of you will like a house more than the other and it might take longer than you thought to choose somewhere. It is amazing how fussy you become when you are spending that amount of money on something, and rightly so! One suggestion to help with this is to both write a list, putting down all of the things you want in your new home. Once you both have your lists, compare the two and then see what you have in common and hey presto you have an idea of where you’re headed! We chose a new build house in the end, but we viewed 3 other places before deciding and it took a few months to make this decision. You need to consider whether you have the time and money to do any work to an older house that might need doing, whether you have time to keep a bigger garden looking good, the location of the house, what the parking situation is and value for money. What is more important to you, where the house is or the actual house? You might be able to get more for your money in a different area if you aren’t tied to one place.
Step 3: The waiting game.
Once you have your deposit and you have a house in mind, it is time to sort the nitty gritty. Ideally, you will have been to a mortgage advisor and spoken theoretically about what you can afford and different mortgage options you can go for, before looking for a specific house. One you have actually chosen somewhere, you can apply for a mortgage in principle and make an offer. I won’t go too much into the detailed process of house buying as once you get involved, things tend to just happen and even if you haven’t a clue about what the process is, you will come out the other side an expert! All I will say is that it takes an age, a real age! The times I was in tears at the fact solicitors are taking too long with something or why haven’t I heard back from the bank, what has gone wrong I would ask myself. I know it is easy to say looking back but I really wish I had calmed down a little and realised that it will all happen when it happens and that stressing out won’t solve anything! As we were buying the new build it was also a matter of actually having to wait for the house to be finished until we could exchange contracts and (as is mostly the case in new builds) we were only given a weeks notice that we could move in and complete the sale. This meant having to be ready to go but unsure of exactly when, as you can imagine, stress! It is all so worth it now though.
Step 4: Enjoy!
So you’ve gone through the boring stage of saving money, the stressful stage of the actual sale process and you’ve got your house, wheyyyy! Hopefully you will have saved some extra money to buy furniture and decorate, that is obviously the absolute best part of getting your first home! Our place looked like a florist in the first week or so of having it, people are so kind and we got some lovely gifts that we have as part of our decor. Having a colour scheme and making a mood board for each room is probably the best place to start and pinterest will be your best friend! I would definitely shop around when choosing things like which broadband provider to use or which electricity company to use; Always mention you are undecided and that you are considering using a competitor, it almost guarantees you will be offered an introductory price, the companies want your business! We have lived in our first home for just over a year now and still there is so much I want to do interior wise, I need it to be an Instagrammer’s dream home, I won’t stop until it is, haha! Seriously though, don’t feel you need to rush and have the perfect looking place to start with – you have done the hard bit in getting the place, everything else will come. I think if you go in too quickly and decorate everything in the first week, you often have regrets and change your mind, it is best to build up the rooms.
I hope this has inspired you and spurred you on to believe you can buy your first home, in a time where it is all over the media about how impossible it is – you can do it! If you are in the process already, take a breath, the end will come and one day soon you will be relaxing in your new pad feeling smug! If anyone wants to get in contact if you have any questions on the house buying process (I know I had a million questions as people band about so many rumours and wives tales about house purchasing) you can get me at Justhollieblog@hotmail.com. There is so much more I could say on this topic, if I get frequently asked questions I will do another post on more specific aspects for you xox
….Yes, I know I take too many pictures of wine. Shhhh.