Inspired by Mummascribbles’ fab post ‘It’s our home-iversary‘, I thought I would share our story of how we got on the property ladder. It’s quite a long story so here’s the short version if you’re in a rush:
1) Move back to parents’ house after university.
2) Start putting £500 of monthly wages into a savings account.
3) After 5 years, purchase a ‘Buy-to’Let’ property to rent out to students.
4) After getting married, get the London experience by renting in Brixton on a bills-inclusive deal.
5) After 4 years renting and a baby, move into in-laws while deciding where to live permanently.
6) Sell ‘Buy-to-Let’ property and put money towards a deposit.
7) Bulk up deposit with personal savings and extra funds from parents (on both sides).
8) Investigate areas and do house-viewings. Decide between do-it-up house projects or a new build.
9) Choose our area and go for a new build.
10) Move in to our first family home as home-owners!
I lived out when I was at uni and paid the rent myself with my wages from my weekend job at Birthdays the card shop. Being Asian, you are expected to move back home after uni, get a job and get married. Well I moved home and got a job. The married bit, I was like noooo I’m only 22! Living at home was good, I didn’t pay any rent and was able to save up. After 5 years, I was still nowhere near the ‘getting married’ stage, but had saved up enough money for a deposit to buy a property.
PURCHASE A ‘BUY-TO-LET’
Actually I lie, I was totally ready for getting married, but sadly my other half’s grandma had just passed away, and with a year of mourning, we had to put off wedding plans for a year. The thought of putting my life on hold for another year made me make my biggest impulse purchase ever, and I bought a 3-bedroom ex-council flat in Portsmouth! Why Portsmouth? Well I knew the area from growing up, as my closest cousins lived there, and you get a lot more for your money there. I rented the property out to students at nearby Portsmouth University, and although there was no profit, their rent payed the mortgage.
RENTING IN LONDON
Moving on 2 years, we did get married, and decided to rent in London. Knowing we would never be able to buy a property in London ever, we decided to rent for a few years so we had the experience of living in London. Luckily we found a bargain in Clapham/Brixton, where an elderly Jamaican man was renting out his one-bedroom basement apartment on Ferndale Road for only £825 per month including all bills! If you know London, you know this deal is rare! We loved our first married home, Tyler’s first home too, and we lived there for 4 happy years.
MOVING IN WITH IN-LAWS
When my maternity leave ended, we had to move closer to my mum as she was going to look after Tyler when I went to work. But we still had no idea of where to settle for our permanent home. So we moved into my mother-in-law’s home for a year. You would think we would have saved on money that year having no rent again, but it was so hard living in one bedroom that we went shopping all the time!
A crazy thing happened a month in. I got a call from Portsmouth council saying they were going to do major works to the block that my student flat was in, and my share of the cost would be roughly £1800. At least I thought that’s what the woman said. The next day I got a letter saying my share of the bill was £18,000. That’s right – 18 THOUSAND POUNDS! I did not have that money. Seriously I wanted to cry. We didn’t even have our own home and suddenly I was expected to shell out £18,000 for somewhere I didn’t even live.
SELL THE BUY-TO-LET
I had to sell the flat, and luckily Christies Letting Agents who looked after my flat also had a sales department, and a they knew of a buyer who would buy it off me. My lifesavers! It wasn’t an easy sale, what with new landlord regulations coming in, I had to pay for lots of work to the flat before the sale went through. It took 6 months and I got just under what I paid, so not too much of a loss in the whole grand scheme of things.
BULK UP DEPOSIT
The money from the sale, together with help from our parents and more savings, meant we had a nice sized deposit. We still had to decide on where to live.
CHOOSING WHERE TO LIVE
One weekend we went to Windsor and LOVED it – it was like a mini-London outside of London, the tourists, shops, river, swans and most importantly polite kids with nice accents. This was where we wanted to bring up Tyler. A 20-minute drive from my parents, and 40 minutes from my in-laws – it was the perfect location. We looked at a few houses, and one that was really affordable turned out to be pre-fab – basically these houses were built quickly after the war and this one had steel foundations or something. Risky. Then the housing market went quiet, so house-hunting went on hold.
SHOULD WE TAKE A GAMBLE?
We had another mini-break near Christmas time in Birmingham. This city has just had a £500 million regeneration and it is just so vibrant now! We were really inspired by this city. We stayed in a 3rd floor apartment that Tyler loved, he was running in and out of the rooms, sitting by the window people-watching, just so happy. This made us decide that a new build apartment was more suitable for us, and we thought we’d take a gamble on an area that was about to be regenerated like Birmingham.
So we chose our area, near Windsor in Berkshire, and we looked at houses and new-build apartments. The houses all needed work doing, and one smelt so bad that the estate agents wouldn’t even go inside. Then we looked at these amazing new-build apartments, shown around by the most reluctant sales agent (he really hated his job!). But they had sold all the parking spaces, so there would be nowhere to park my car. No good. Then he said the block opposite was still being built and they would have parking spaces. They were going on sale in March 2014.
PICK OUR DREAM PROPERTY
We knew this was where we wanted to live, and I was checking their website daily to see if they were released yet. The weekend they were released, we went there on a Saturday morning and picked the best corner apartment – with a view of a railway station for Tyler, floor-to-ceiling windows, 2 bedrooms, bathroom, ensuite, brand new kitchen and appliances. It was such a gamble – we could only view it from the outside as they were still building it. We had the reluctant sales guy again, and we said we want it. We put our £1000 holding deposit down and 10 minutes later it was reserved for us! Quick or what!
THE BUYING PROCESS
My husband’s best mate’s ex-brother-in-law is a mortgage broker, so he got us a good deal, and we got £500 off the house price for using their recommended solicitor. A month later we paid 10% of our deposit and then a week later the rest of it (scary!). And then we got the keys!
We were the third family to move into our block – so it was like we had it all to ourselves – pretty cool. Slowly other neighbours moved in, it was like being at university halls, waiting to see who your neighbour was!
We felt like we were dreaming those first few months – our very own home at last, and such a luxury one too! I think you can probably guess the town we moved to. But if not, I will reveal all in next week’s post! Stay tuned 🙂