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House-Hunting Truths

Here are some things I’m finding that I’ve had to get used to this week.

Suddenly calling my boyfriend my partner — We’re still only 25, and yeah, we’ve been together 9 years this year, but that’s still weird.

Perspective — In no other realm is £200,000 considered cheap.

Getting prepared to hand over all our money in the world in the blink of an eye — This game moves quickly, and it’s crazy and scary but apparently how things need to be done.

Rightmove and Zoopla are not the house hunting saviours they claim to be — Actually speaking face-to-face with estate agents and (unfortunately) sales people (when it comes to new builds) is how to get things moving, so it feels kind of similar to job hunting. So while you’ll be asked 50 times what your email and the first line of your address is, it seems like it’s the best way to actually get to see a house you might (if you’re like lightning) be able to put an offer in for. Also, apparently some estate agents put things up on a right move for the hell of it rather than because they’re actually available.

Help-To-Buy is not actually particularly helpful — The age-old saying that if something sounds to good to be true then it probably is. While it sounds incredibly attractive to pay much less for a house now than you would without the help of this government scheme, the whole thing seems designed to land you in even more debt in the long run. Correct me if I’m wrong but this is how I see it; with Help-To-Buy you’ll be able to borrow 20% of the value of your new home interest-free for 5 years (brilliant, where do I sign up?). Here’s the catch, after these five years, when you’re likely to be thinking about re-financing, you can either pay off the lump-sum, because people can often manage to save that amount of money that easily in that short space of time, or you can add it to your mortgage, meaning you’ll owe more money on that than you did five years ago, with interest. It seems to me that they’re really taking advantage of non-forward thinkers and here was the real kicker that put me off it for good – if after 5 years you want to sell your home, you have to pay 20% of that value rather than the original amount of money you borrowed. Brilliant.
I would bet – given that reserving a home under help-to-buy with new builds is half the price, that most developers are in kahoots and with some having such great sales people, it’s certainly something I would watch out for.

No viewing before open houses — Because even though someone can come out from under your nose and steal a home you want to buy anyway, it’s more courteous that everyone should view it first, on the same day, in the most intense house-viewing circumstances ever.

Everyone’s got an in-house mortgage advisor — It looks like this house-hunting ‘journey’ is really going to teach me to say ‘no’.

Lists are not enough — With phone calls, call-backs, e-mails and my own Internet scouring, it’s already kind of difficult to keep track of where I’m going, what I’m looking at and what my next step is. Like, I’m meant to be going to an open house today, the viewing is at 3pm but I have no idea where it is, I wrote the first part down but was meant to get an e-mail and that’s as far as it got. Worst part, I don’t remember who it was with so I can’t even give them a call-back to find out; they’re in a long list that has since started to mean nothing to me. Good.

I’ve likened house-hunting to job hunting a lot this week and if you’ve followed me for a long time, you’ll know how much I hated job hunting after I first graduated. It’s still not something I would say I’m particularly enamoured with but luckily it’s not something that’s on my mind right now anyway. House-hunting might even be worse, because at least you’re not giving away £hundreds of thousands to get what you want when you’re looking for a job and even with that scary money element, there still comes rejection. Awful.

Obviously I’ve just got to see how it goes and while I’m still excited, I’m scared and frustrated too, I’ve had enough of horrible carpets, wonky cupboards, upstairs neighbours and no double glazing, I just want to get things going.

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