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Monday, 2 February 2015

Learning to play the property game

We have officially started our house search - hurrah!

As I mentioned in a recent post, I have several BIG plans for 2015 and probably the biggest of these is to finally get on the housing ladder. At long last Chris and I are ready to buy our first home. We have a hefty deposit saved, mortgage broker ready to go, solicitor waiting in the wings, and all our finances in order. And we are first time buyers - i.e. chain free. It's going to be easy, I thought naively!

If only it was that simple...

This blog isn't called Dared, Determined, Done! for nothing and finding and securing our dream first home will be seriously challenging as I'm starting to learn. It's going to take all the grit and determination I've got.

After years of watching national treasures Kirsty and Phil (I love those two!) grace my television screen I figured buying a home would be a fun challenge. From watching countless hours of "Location, Location, Location" it appeared that it was finding the house you want to buy that's the hard part - like looking for a needle in a haystack. On that programme once the buyers eventually find 'the one' they make a quick call to the agent, negotiate a bit and job done. The house is theirs. 

How wrong that is! We are actually facing quite a different challenge...

In just a few short weeks of looking in our ideal area we found a house we love, put in an offer, and were quickly and spectacularly "gazzumped" (I'm already speaking the house hunters lingo you see) by something horrid I've just discovered known as a CASH BUYER. Yes, there are actually people out there with so much cash to spare they can just go buy a whole house with their loose change and still have enough left over for a celebratory glass of bubbly. 

The house is lovely and we are really disappointed, but onwards and upwards! Or so we thought... 

We have now learned of a new horror that we have to face on the property battlefield. The nightmare that is the OPEN HOUSE DAY. Ugh! Whose god awful idea was this?! Certainly it was not dreamt up by a buyer, most definitely it's the brain child of evil estate agents.  

After bouncing back (very quickly I'd like to add) from the disappointment of missing out on the first house, we were back pounding the streets viewing more properties. After viewing seven (yes, seven) houses in one day we found another gem. Only to quickly learn that shortly an open house day of viewings is to take place where lots of nasty cash buyers will be crawling around with bags of money ready to hand over. Arrrgh!

The whole thing is a total nightmare. Seriously, how does anyone cope with this madness without having a nervous breakdown?! Also, no one tells you how much time it takes to search online, speak to agents, book viewings, go to the viewings, have follow up calls with the agents etc... How can I field all of these calls whilst I'm at work trying to do the job I need to pay the mortgage I'm soon going to be paying? We have only been properly looking for a couple of weeks and already I can feel myself getting completely overwhelmed by the whole process. 

We have London friends who lost out on eight houses before finally securing their current home. I'm now starting to realise just how stressful that must have been for them. We had hoped to avoid all of this pain by forgetting about buying a house in my beloved London, the city where I was born and the place I've called home for the past 32 years, and instead buy in a pretty, historic commuter town near the country village where my parents live. We figured that by skipping the madness of the London property market we would manage to avoid the insane pressure of open house days and bidding wars. We were wrong.

But - I refuse to get down hearted. We have only been looking for a short while and I'm sure we have many more weeks, or more likely, months of this insanity ahead of us. So I want to try and enjoy it and treat the whole thing as one big learning process. Already in the past week I have learned that if I pay attention I can actually (shock, horror) hold my own in a long meeting with a mortgage broker - something I never thought I'd be able to do due to my shocking lack of ability to comprehend anything to do with numbers.

We've blocked out the diary every Saturday for the foreseeable future and we're going to find our dream house. I know it!

Looking happy on our first day of house hunting - little did I know what lay ahead!

If you would like to leave a comment below I would really welcome any thoughts or reactions on this post. Leaving a comment is easy. Simply write your comment in the box below the post (don't forget to write your name!) then select "Comment as: Anonymous" and click the "Publish" button. I moderate all comments so it may take a day or so before you see your comment published on the blog. 

Thanks, Celia x


  1. Are you looking north or south of the river? I only ask as I'm trying to identify the town you're standing in.

  2. Hi Enna - thanks for commenting on my blog! :) In that picture I am standing on Guildford High Street as we're looking in that area. It's a really lovely part of the country. Are you house hunting right now?