Daily #42: Exchange, completion

Merry Christmas! I’m scheduling this post because I just don’t see myself having the time. I hope everyone has a lovely Christmas day!

I’m again just going to finish off the telling of our house buying process. As I said yesterday, once we knew the value of the house, and subsequently the required desposit, it was far easier to project the total costs.

The next step was to apply for a mortgage. We’d already received a number of Decisions in Principle (which is essentially the lender saying that they would lend you a certain amount based on the information you give them). In the end, we decided to go with Nationwide. At the time, they included the mortgage arrangement fee (around £1,000) in the amount borrowed, and offered a £500 cashback on completion – which was nice to receive once we got there.

One of the costs that one could incur around this time is using a mortgage broker. For us, we didn’t feel it was worth it, and they can charge quite a high amount. We had free consultations with a couple, but they were unable to get quotes that we couldn’t find online ourselves. As such, we instead used an online broker through Quidco. This meant that the process was done for us, but the cashback from Quidco covered both the broker fee and gave us and extra £100 for using them. So we made money by using a broker, which suited us just fine.

We also had to find a solicitor. I won’t go into the many factors which go into choosing a solicitor, as there are so many and everyone’s experience seems to be different. We chose our solicitor as they were affiliated with the estate agent we were using, and were locally based (which made it easier when we needed to visit them in person).

From then, the process honestly just involved a lot of emails, and a lot of waiting. Every so often we’d receive a large amount of paperwork in the post, which we’d diligently fill out and return to our solicitor. My partner would chase the solicitor often, which I’d fully recommend. Another tip that we learned is to email the solicitor just before 9am – so our message would be at the top of their inbox when they started work.

It’s a bit of a chore, but we were really in love with the house, despite only having viewed it twice. It’s bizarre really – even in a car, you’re allowed to test drive it, but when making one of the biggest purchases of your life, you’re only going to see it for around half an hour before deciding to buy it.

All in all, our process was fairly uneventful. The only hiccup that occurred was in April. We were about to exchange contracts in the coming week, when we were suddenly informed that those at the other end of the (mercifully short) chain were buying a new build, which would not be ready until the end of June. Therefore, after packing half our belongings, we had to wait a further two months before moving.

Once we got to exchange, the real costs started to pile on. The seller takes a ‘deposit’ at exchange, which essentially just proves that you have the money. We originally thought we therefore needed two deposits, but they are the same. These were both 10% for us. However, as we were using our Help to Buy bonuses, we wouldn’t be able to hand over the full 10% bonus until after completion. Therefore, we negotiated with the seller’s solicitors to provide a ~9% seller’s deposit, which worked out perfectly.

We also had to then pay the solicitor fees, which came out to £1,500 for us as it was a fairly simple purchase. Appliances were the other major cost for us. Our flat was unfurnished, but came equipped with a fridge, freezer, washer/dryer and dishwasher – which we had to buy new for our house.

It’s hard to provide an overall estimate for how much we spent, but I’d place it somewhere around the ~£26,000 mark. We were lucky in the sense that we didn’t have to buy a new set of furniture straight away, as we had the essentials from our flat. That would have added another few thousand to our total.

We’re just now getting new furniture, and starting to ‘do up’ our living room. I might provide an update on that soon. Once again, Merry Christmas!

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