First-Time Buying: What I Learnt

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One of the most exciting things about having young team members is watching them take their first steps onto the property ladder. Over the last few months, a few of our team members have made their first property purchases, so we sat down with with Lydia, the first to complete her sale, to see how they found the experience:

I should probably start by saying that I wasn’t actually looking to move out when my sale fell into place; I was just really lucky that everything pulled together in the way it did

I should probably start by saying that I wasn’t actually looking to move out when my sale fell into place; I was just really lucky that everything pulled together in the way it did.

I should start by saying that I actually did this process a bit back-to-front in that I viewed the property before I had my finances in order. We would always recommend that anyone looking to buy has an agreement/decision in principle before you begin actively viewing, just so you know what numbers you’re working to.

On the day of the viewing, I met the agent at the apartment, and she explained that there were actually two flats available in the complex, both ex-rental properties owned by the same landlord, who was looking to sell.

The first was the one I’d seen on the website: a 2-bedroom flat with open-plan living room/kitchen/diner and an en-suite in the master bedroom. It was lovely, but I couldn’t see myself living there. The second flat, though, was a different story: walking in felt like coming home. The layout was different, with a kitchen separate from the living room. It still had 2 bedrooms, the master with an en-suite, but in this one, both the master bedroom and the living room led onto a balcony overlooking playing fields. It was light and airy, and it just felt right.

I rang Ella on the Monday and said that I wanted to make an offer but needed to get my mortgage sorted (something I should have started doing before this stage!) I got in touch with Mortgage Advice Bureau through Alexander & Co and went for a meeting with Steve in the Aylesbury MAB office the following week. Steve was absolutely brilliant; he clearly knew exactly what he was talking about, and his reassurances and easy-to-follow explanations to my questions gave me real confidence. I went from not really knowing what a mortgage was to being to explain to my friends who were also looking to buy. I learnt so much from Steve and I can honestly say that going to see MAB was the best thing I did in the entire process.

Having been to see Steve, I asked the Ella team to do me a conveyancing quote with Gilroy Steel in Buckingham. Claire and her team were very efficient, and I received a quote within 10 minutes of asking Ella for one.

I made an offer on the flat, which was initially rejected, so made a second, which was accepted. The process started well, with things moving well, but came to a grinding halt due to the COVID-19 lockdown until May. Like most other buyers in this position, it was pretty frustrating, but the situation was out of my hands.

In June, things began to pick up again, and the last few pieces of the sale fell into place the following month. I picked up my keys on 17th July, and, after such a long process, spent most of the day pinching myself that it had actually happened! Then the fun started: picking out furniture, choosing paint for the walls and so on.

So, what did I learn?

I think this whole process made me grow up, a lot. I’ve always been pretty mature, but I feel like I went from a kid playing at being an adult to an actual adult throughout this process.

I also learnt that it takes a crazy amount of paperwork to get a sale through and that a good solicitor can make a huge difference. Luckily mine was fantastic, but the seller’s solicitor were not great and held up the sale by several weeks.

What advice would you give?

  • Ask every single question you have, big or small, stupid or not
  • Keep on top of your solicitor and the agent.
  • Know that everyone in this process wants it to go through: the seller wants to sell; the agent wants to sell; your solicitor wants their fee. This sale going through is in their interest as much as it is yours! Property sales are team efforts, and you are a key player, so do everything in your power to help
  • Paperwork is a bit arduous, but do yourself a favour and read it all, word for word. Also be fast and prepared when it comes to responding.
  • Above all other advice I could give, I would say that any potential buyer should go and see a financial advisor/mortgage broker. This was far and away the best thing I did, and it gave me the confidence to make the offer and get the ball rolling.

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