Thursday 4 June 2015

We're leaving home, bye bye...

I can't help quoting songs.  You can probably guess that by my blog title.  It seems I mostly quote songs from the '60s as well.  We shall blame the fact that until the age of 13 I listened to nothing other than my parents record collection (featuring French cabaret music from the 1930s up to classics from the 1970s) and Classic FM.  I was a bit of a strange one.  If you don't know, I'm slightly misquoting an amazing Beetles song, She's Leaving Home.  Epic song.  Check it out.

I digress.  I'm not here to write about songs today.  No.  Not at all.  We have decided to put our house on the market and move to somewhere (hopefully) bigger.  We still want to stay in the same town.  Our families are nearby, our friends are nearby, the boys have a life here, Ethan is settled into his school.  We like our town!  It has everything we want, a pool, a seafront, the oldest continually running cinema in the world (yeah!) a library, great cafes.  Excellent schools/nursery's/preschools.  We should be getting a brand new softplay soon as well!

Our house is lovely.  We've been here for 11 years now - how time flies - and in that time we've completely renovated the place.  We've replaced the front door, back door, windows, internal doors, kitchen, bathroom, had a door installed so you can access the garage from the inside and set up a utility area in there, had decking put out the back, paved the front drive, had cavity wall insulation put in and the highest level of loft insulation put in, put low energy LED bulbs in all lights, repainted (several times!) re-carpeted/floored, painted the external garage door, had all guttering etc replaced, had a new fuse box, had a new boiler, landscaped our garden and put in a lovely summer house.  Whoever buys this place will have such a fantastic home and we are going to find it very hard to move!  However, when we moved in we were a couple on our own.  Now, we are a family of four.  Two young boys.  One day, we are going to have two teenage boys and they are going to be big and have a lot of stuff.  We already feel crammed in and one bathroom/loo is no longer enough.  Especially once I start toilet training Felix in a few weeks!

No... it's time to find something a little bigger.. and I thought it would be worth recording our moving journey on here.  After all, it's quite an interesting subject!

We have never sold a property before, this is all new to us.  This house was our first house.  This will be our first experience of buying and selling at the same time and being in a chain.  Already, just a few days in it's been a roller coaster!

Last week we looked around a property and whilst it needed quite a bit of work we both fell for it.  At that stage our house wasn't on the market as Pete still wasn't sure about selling.  We wanted to make an offer on this place despite ours not being sold.  This house had been listed for about 2 months already and hadn't had any offers on it so we felt quite confident.  I made an offer just under asking price and low and behold, someone else made an offer on the same day!  Typical!  The other couple had already sold their place and were living in rented accommodation so the vendor went with their offer.

To say it was gutting would be an understatement.  A week on I still feel a burning annoyance when I think about it.  If only we'd acted sooner!! Life is full of iffs and butts, isn't it!! Still, one thing I can thank this experience for is that it lit a fire up our butts!  We got moving on listing our house and making sure it looked as good as possible.  We checked our financials so we know exactly what we can stretch to money wise (very important!).

My top tips for getting ready to sell would be:

- Work out what you can afford.  How much are you currently paying in rent/mortgage a month?  Can you afford to pay more?  Research current mortgage and interest rates.  Be aware that interest rates change.  Know about the length of terms on mortgages.  You don't have to get a 20 year mortgage, you can have a 25, 30 and even 35 year (age dependent!) term.  We can afford to borrow more if we go for a 30 year term.  Make sure though that you over pay if you can and decrease your term when you remortage, if you can!  When we bought our first place we took out a 35 year mortgage.  That was 11 years ago.  We have now paid off £30,000 of the amount we borrowed and our term is now 16 years remaining on a 20 year mortgage.  We would hope to do the same again this time around because we like the idea of being mortgage free as soon as we can!

- Look around your house and see what quick, cheap and easy changes/improvements you can make to help your house stand out.  Mow the lawn, tidy up paint work.  Clean your windows and doors.  De clutter.  Give your bathroom and kitchen (especially oven) a deep clean.  Put some hanging baskets up outside your property.  Make sure your garage door looks good (if you have one).  Weed your driveway.  These things are all small but they make your property look cared for.  Remember you are selling a "lifestyle"!

- Get addicted to Right Move!  It helps you know what's out there for you to buy but it also helps give you an idea of what your house is worth, how quickly similar ones are selling and how many others there are on the market!

- Get your house valued - by more than one agent!  It's more than likely agents will give you a very similar quote but the more you meet, the more you get an idea of which one is "for you".  Ask around for recommendations.  Some estate agents have better reputations than others.  Some will be great at selling larger properties, some better at renting properties etc..

- Ask questions.  Inform yourself.  There are important questions you need to ask before choosing which estate agent you want to sell your house through.  Don't just blindly accept what they say.  You must ask them:

1) How long is my contract with you?  If I list my house with you and it's not selling, how long before I can break out of the contract and list with another agent?  You don't want to be stuck with an agent you aren't happy with.

2) How much is your fee?  Estate agents make their money when they sell your house.  They take a percentage of the amount you sell for as their fee.  This can be any amount they want it to be but is usually (these days) in the region of 1-2% of your final sale value.  Please note that VAT is usually added on top.  By speaking to two different estate agents I was able to negotiate our fee down from a flat rate to a rate of 1% of final sale value including VAT (so all we will pay is 1%).  This is pretty competitive!!

3) EPC - something all houses need when selling now is an EPC (energy performance certificate).  EPCs are valid for 10 years so it's well worth getting one done as soon as you decide you want to sell your house.  In fact, once your house is listed for sale you have to provide one within 7 days otherwise it will be withdrawn from the market.  Many estate agents will offer to arrange an EPC for you and now doubt it will be fine and done quickly.  However, it will be more expensive.  A good idea is to look around for someone who conducts EPCs in your area.  I was able to arrange one for our house at a cost of £50 and it was done within 24 hours of my request.  This saved me a bit of money.

- View as many houses as you can, even if you think they aren't right or aren't in the right area.  We have found so far that ones we almost dismissed have been the ones we've liked the most!

- Expect a rollercoaster of emotions.  Moving and buying/selling is really emotional.  Offers are refused, houses can take longer than you think to sell, buyers can pull out, other people make an offer on a house you love and it goes to them.  It's a real emotional ride!

- Be flexible.  Estate agents will likely be calling you at short notices to ask if people can view your house.  As much as you can, say yes.  Although it's stressful in the interim, it should help you get a sale more quickly!

- Make a list of your must haves.  It's likely that you will have to make some compromises when you move but it's good to make a list of the things you feel you really don't want to budge on so that you end up somewhere that you'll really be happy.

We're very much at the beginning of this journey and discovering things as we go along.  It'll be interesting to see how it all pans out and of course I'll share the journey with you.  I'd appreciate any advice though - have you sold and bought before?  What was it like for you?

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