How to Buy a House – An Update

Two weeks ago I shared a post about my decision to sell my family home and buy another. Relocating from Knebworth in Hertfordshire to Royston. Things move quickly in the house buying world! Go read that post if you haven’t already, super useful for setting the context of my house selling/buying decision and also the process and costs of buying and selling a house.

I want to share the last two weeks of house buying drama to demonstrate how ****** stressful it is, but how things can work out in the end.

House Viewing day 11th Sept

The boys and I spent Saturday 11th Sept viewing (too) many houses. I booked in 6 viewings and dragged those poor boys around them all. Bribing them with a nice lunch at the Weatherspoon’s in Royston, coffee and ice cream from the cute courtyard coffee shop that we found on our wonders.

House one

Was amazing. It was brand new, open and light. The main bedroom had an actual dressing area AND an en suite. The garden was small, and it was right on a road, not so good, but I can compromise. 20 people were viewing it that day The power of wanting an obviously popular house took over. I made an offer that afternoon for £362k. It was on market for £350 to £375k.

Houses two and three

Were awful. They were total renovation jobs. Yes, they were £350k or below, but really not an option for me. Single mum who would quite like an easy life with my next house. One house I walked in and walked straight back out again, it was like that flat in Trainspotting. Gross.

It may look nice, and on a good road, but inside was disgusting. Honestly worst house I’ve ever seen. An £80k refurb needed.

House four

Was a decent second option. It felt dark and enclosed, but with some work it could be nice, maybe needed £20k spent on it for redecoration, another £20k knocking through kitchen into dining room.

Houses five and six

We got bored by then, so binned these houses off! They were not great options so it was fine to not view them one had no garden and very close to train line. The other one on a super busy road and too expensive.

An offer on House one

Back to house one. We went to the estate agents office on the Saturday afternoon, that same day and made the offer. I was my usual super friendly self and told my story. They knew how important for me and us it was to find a house. They were expecting several offers to be made and all were to be submitted to the seller by 5pm on the Monday. Monday was a traumatic day as there were a few phone calls and a bidding war ensued. I ended up putting my offer up to £375k to ensure I was the top bid.

Tuesday, I heard nothing, except a phone call from the agents to say that the seller needed ore time to think about the six offers he had. Despite mine being the highest. Alarm bells were ringing.

Actually there was….

Wednesday passed, joyfully at a big Christmas event in London, so at least I was distracted with Prosecco. I called the agents at 5:30pm. What on earth was going on, I asked? Turns out the seller was using the agents and me, and the other people who made offers to create a bidding war. He had an existing buyer, whom I was told previously had left the process, but turned out hadn’t. They had come back and matched my offer and promised to exchange in two weeks time. That seller, I’m sorry but what a @@@@.

He wasted the time of everyone viewing that house, along with a few days of time for the agents all for him to get an extra £20k on his sale price. What an unreasonable, selfish, greedy man. Karma. That’s all I’ll say. Karma will prevail.

Fast forward to Wed 22rd Sept

After the events of house one, I chilled out from the trauma, and took a few days off house searching, apart from the odd Right Move check. I viewed a house on the way to Newmarket football on Monday 21st, but it wasn’t suitable. At that viewing I told about another good property soon to come on the market, within 24 to 48 hours. I was primed and ready.

The agents Thomas Morris, the same as the first house mess, called me Wednesday morning and I booked a viewing of this new house that afternoon. They assured me they would do what they could to look after me, help me to find a house and they did. The house I viewed was three houses away from the first house that the offer was made on, but better.

The garden was much bigger. The kitchen/dining area had the most incredible light. It is tucked around a corner near a teeny park. The main bedroom doesn’t have a dressing area (did I ever really need a dressing area??!!), but does have nice fitted wardrobes, and a lovely en suite. I’ve always wanted an en suite, is that sad? NO!

An offer was made

I liked it and made an offer of £367k the next day and asked for it to stay off the market. The house price was £350k to £375k. I received a phone call Friday 24th September lunch time asking me to up my offer, closer to £375k. I went to £372k. The last phone call at 5pm on Friday afternoon was Fiona from the agent to say ‘OFFER ACCEPTED’.

I was shaking with excitement. I hugged my boys and my neighbour Shelley who is very upset that we are leaving, but also happy for us. Then I called Anita, one of my best friends to let her know. She had been helping me with the amounts to offer over the Thursday and Friday. I messaged my other close friends with the update, then ran to the hairdressers for my eldest to get his hair cut again (I’m sure this is now every 4 weeks!), Mum life, constantly switching from one job to another.

What Next?

Now the juggernaut of English legal processes and checks can start. The legals and surveys have already started on the sale of my house in Knebworth, and now they can begin on the house I am buying. My solicitor will do a great job and be quick, I know them well after the last two year (****** painful) divorce process.

Chain wise it’s nice and simple, there are three houses involved and four families. The lady whom I am buying from is moving to new build.

Refer back to my article from two weeks ago for all the processes and costs that will now kick in. My estate agent is sending me an expected timeline for everything. Fingers crossed I am in by Christmas, although I suspect it will be earlier. Just got a feeling.

Sort out the Finances

I can now phone Santander to arrange for the porting of my mortgage from one house to the other. It will unfortunately incur a redemption penalty, as I’m downsizing within the time period of my fixed rate deal. I am expecting my mortgage to reduce by around £90k, the redemption fee is therefore 3% or £2,700.

This is a HUGE deal for me to reduce my mortgage. Ever since my divorce settlement in 2020, that resulted in me keeping the family home but buying out my ex-husband, I have been extremely uncomfortable with the size of my mortgage. Let’s be honest, a £320k mortgage for a single self-employed mum is a lot of debt.

It may be ‘good’ debt (debt to fund an asset going up in value) and I can afford the monthly payments, but the total amount owed scares me. My monthly repayments should go from £1,236 down to around £850. £400 saving per month. I might put some of this saving back into mortgage overpayments, or maybe just make extra pension payments. I really want to be mortgage free by 60, just 15 years away. If not before.

Oh to be mortgage free

Side note, but my friend Faith Archer of Much More With Less, has always inspired me with my financial freedom journey. She became mortgage free in her 40s and has no consumer debt. She relocated from London to Suffolk meaning that she could buy a house outright. We often compare spending diaries for projects with PensionBee and each time we compare I always think, wow she is so lucky to not have a mortgage or any debts. Thankfully I am now part way there, with no consumer debts as of Sept 2021 when the car loan was paid off IN FULL:-)

Hope you are loving the drama of these updates. Ill be back with a time line update post in a couple of weeks, where hopefully Ill have a rough idea of a completion date. Thanks for reading! And if you are buying a house, good luck!!

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Lynn Beattie

Aka Mrs MummyPenny

Personal Finance Expert

I write about personal finance made simple, lifestyle choices that will save you time and money, as well as products and services that offer great value.

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