The Numbers – You know that budget? Double it!

6 Years ago we bought our first property. It was so long ago that I feel like I had a little process amnesia.

Being a first time buyer was soooo much easier than being a home mover. The extra baggage creeps up on you and you don’t realise that you’ve accumulated so much stuff!

Let’s get down to the numbers.

My husband is a numbers man. He wants it all to be accounted for on the spreadsheet and adds a £200 buffer to absolutely everything! It really annoys me because I’m all up for rounding up to the nearest 10, but £200? He takes it too far!

Well, it seems as if Mr Charm was on to something.

The costly thing isn’t in things you accounted for costing a little more than expected, but it’s in the things that you had no intention of spending money on requiring money to be spent!

To give you an idea, we always knew that we had to give the house some make up. Lick of paint, furniture, art etc. We accounted for painting all the rooms and a newly fitted kitchen/bathroom for personal reasons, not really a super necessity.

As time progressed so did the need for that budget to be stretched.

Natural floorboards meant the risk of worms, stray bits and with a young child, anything that is a risk to master charm will be seen to. We had to get the floors sanded, treated and polished.

There’s also the other unaccounted area – the garden! We hadn’t had a garden for so long that upkeep and the importance of a sturdy fence was not at the forefront of our minds.

Limp water. Nothing boils my blood more than a limp shower. Power shower or nothing! That’s what we were dealing with. The bathroom was due a facelift, but lead times were a nightmare and was we really going to live with limp water for that long? I think not.

It turns out that all of those £200 add ons were welcomed and helped us in some stretched situations.

Lesson learnt? Double that budget & don’t be a home Reno snob. Another added learn for me was to let my husband get involved, two heads are better than one and after all, this is OUR home not mine!

Work-Life Balance: The Intern is equally as important as the Exec

This week I planned to share a post which highlighted the importance of Diversity, Inclusion and being able to bring your whole self to work, but I’m going to deviate slightly.

The title of this post is pretty self explanatory.

Regardless of who you encounter in the workplace, give them the same amount of respect and time that you would anyone else.

Why?

1- It’s human decency and good character

2- You never know where this person will be in years to come. Some people are extremely ambitious and may end up being your boss in a few career cycles.

3- You never know what people are going through. Some people are uber qualified, but take whatever role they can get to pay the bills or they may have just taken a career change and now need to work their way up from an entry level position due to a lack of experience.

All in all regardless of role or seniority all people deserve to be treated fairly.

Don’t ignore someone’s email because you don’t see “the decision maker” copied in. Don’t reply with a snarky tone because you deem yourself more important than said recipient.

After all, life has a funny way of humbling people. That colleague you treated horribly could be related to the person whose decision it is regarding a big contract you’re banking on signing.

I once read a really interesting quote that I think is quite relatable to this topic. It says, “you can tell the character of a guy by the way he talks to the waiter”.

Be kind.

You don’t know what people are going through or who the “real” boss is. Titles are great, but the man on the field delivering deserves a little nod of thanks from time to time.

People don’t leave companies, they leave bosses and unpleasant relationships.

NEW SERIES: Work-Life Balance

Introduction

Welcome back! 

We’ve been knees deep in a pandemic, my property woes came to an abrupt end, whilst I navigated my career/a remote promotion. I think it’s safe to say that I get a free pass for my impromptu TellMeElleCee hiatus.

Something that has been a hot topic amongst my peers, and I is work-life balance. I’ve had a few interesting conversations and they have inspired me to write this series. 

In this series, we will discuss bringing about boundaries, input vs. output and debate whether people leave companies or managers – juicy!

Feel free to engage, contact me directly and give me your point of view. Let’s keep the conversation going and hopefully bring about a better balance.

You can expect a new post every Wednesday for a mid week boost. Happy Hump Day!

Thank you Taylor Walsh – Milton Keynes Office

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while. I wanted to find the most impactful way to get the message out there and give the relevant people involved their praise.

I’m a researcher. I search hashtags, I read reviews and I ask around. Hopefully someone will stumble across this hashtag, read this post and decide to work with Taylor Walsh.

We had a really hard time selling our flat and finding a house that ticked all of our boxes. When we initially put our flat on the market with Taylor Walsh, they found us a buyer within 2 weeks and we had an offer accepted on a house they were selling. Unfortunately the vendors of the house we were buying pulled out very last minute and the whole chain crumbled. We had to let our buyers down and took our property off of the market. Fast forward 5 months, with a refreshed kitchen and no prospects of an onward purchase, we put our flat on the market (once again with Taylor Walsh) on a bank holiday and we had around 9 viewings booked in for the first working day and they were coming in thick and fast. We accepted an offer after our property had only been on the market for 2 days and the pressure was piled on! We had to find an onward purchase and the market was dry! Unfortunately we had to buy a house using a different agent as this time round Taylor Walsh didn’t have any properties that suited our requirements. The other agent wasn’t the greatest and we really saw a contrast in service and culture.

In short Taylor Walsh has always come through and it was amazing working with the team. A special mention to Felicity, Christian and George. Our target was to complete on/before the stamp duty holiday cut off and we made it! We appreciate you and hope this post drives much more business to you!

Christian/George got people through the door and negotiated the right price for our sale.

Felicity dealt with the post offer/gritty solicitor bits. She provided regular updates, was extremely patient and often worked in her personal time to get this over the line for us. She was firm, to the point and always kept us in the loop whether the update was favourable or not.

Thank you Taylor Walsh.

**Our property had previously been on the Market with Purple Bricks and British Home Sellers for a collective total of around 10 Months with no Offers made. We had more viewings scheduled with Taylor Walsh after being with them for only a week, than we did after being with Purple Bricks for 7 Months and British Home Sellers for 3 Months.

Stamp Duty Holiday – Survival of the quickest

Now is a good time to sell your property.

Houses and even flats are flying off of the market like hot cakes.

Now that buyers with as little as 5% deposit are in the mix, they have more choice and are competing with first time buyers and home movers for properties that would have previously been unaffordable and out of their budget.

In terms of applying for a mortgage, the same affordability factors apply (i.e annual salary, debt to income ratio and stress testing).

This new initiative means that those who can generally afford a £200,000.00 property, but just didn’t have £20,000.00 for a 10% deposit, can now buy a property within that price range with a 5% £10,000.00 deposit.

It’s important to note that nothing is ever done as a good will gesture. This kind of lending does present risks to lenders which is why you’ll find that interest rates are a lot higher when a buyer is presenting less deposit and borrowing more (loan to value).

Before the pandemic and the 5% deposit initiate, a 90% mortgage which meant the borrower would of been presenting 10% deposit, had interest rates in and around the 1.89% region. Now for the similar kind of mortgage, you’re looking at 3.49% interest rates. Shocking! That’s almost double!

  1. Find out how much a bank is willing to lend you & get a decision in principle (known as a DIP or AIP)
  2. Look for properties within your budget. See it, view it & make an Offer on the property within 24 hours.

“I called the Estate Agent to arrange a viewing as soon as the property came on the market and within minutes it was gone!“

You snooze, you loose

Remember, it’s survival of the quickest!

The evil chain that stole my dream home – No chain, no pain. New builds

Part 3

It’s no secret that I’m not fond of New Builds or Schemes (Help to Buy, Shared Ownership etc), but during this rigmarole I was forced to eat my previous words.

When you are buying a New Build they tend to be chain free. You don’t have to worry about an upper chain and generally just need to worry about the completion of the build of your property. You can be part of the process, choose your kitchen, flooring and a load of other bits.

If you are currently a homeowner and reading this series has made you nervous about moving, there are so many options out there, buying a new build is one.

Due diligence is key. Last week I read an article that reaffirmed my reservations about New Builds. Many people were having to move in to temporary accommodation whilst building errors were fixed, however if you know you are buying a new build, make sure you take a professional with you. A builder will spot errors at first glance before you do. There is now a board charged with overseeing the quality of new builds so issues with New Builds shouldn’t be as catastrophic as they once were.

Another way to avoid the pain of a chain is to not have one on your part.

Don’t depend on equity

If you are chain free (your house doesn’t need to be sold before you can move) then that takes a lot of pressure off of the transaction.

There are 3 ways to avoid a chain:

1. Save up thousands of pounds as a deposit for your new home. Move and sell your current home as and when

2. Have 2 properties. Turn your current property in to a Buy To Let and buy your second property by releasing equity and saving (this options means you’d have to pay a little bit more stamp duty & will kick start your property portfolio)

3. Sell your property imminently and move in to temporary accommodation. Bank your funds and wait for the perfect property

Sometimes you have to go slow to go far.

For now, we’ve put on the brakes and have turned this loss in to a lesson.

Join me soon for, “The evil chain that stole my dream home – Recovery. What’s next?”

The evil chain that stole my dream home – House hunting in a pandemic

Part 2

When we started house hunting in March 2020 it was a ghost town.

We had agents at our beck and call and were spoilt for choice. The houses that were on the market had been there for a while, no real haste and vendors were happy to get people through their doors.

As the months progressed we took our time, looked around and didn’t make any real commitments.

Once the Chancellor made the stamp duty holiday announcement in July 2020, everything changed dramatically!

We noticed that as soon as a house came on the market, it was gone within 7 days.

I was set up for email alerts and was quite quick to book viewings, but before we could get through the door, the house had been sold subject to contracts!

A trend that was quite apparent was that home movers were making the most out of this stamp duty treat.

The stamp duty holiday meant that people could use this time to size up, relocate and make money! (Equity)

Let’s bear in mind that we were in the thick of a pandemic and forced to stay indoors for the foreseeable. If your 24 hours, 7 days a week is going to be your home, then it may as well be somewhere you feel comfortable and love being.

We saw city lovers opting for properties in the country/the outskirts of the M25 due to the flexibility of working from home and not having to commute in to corporate inner city offices. Not forgetting to mention that you get a lot more for your pound outside London.

What you’d spend on a 2 bedroom London flat, you could buy a 4-5 bedroom house with generous garden space outside London.

Ultimately the housing market was booming, it was the right time and everything was working in every home owners favour.

UNTIL we were all reminded time after time that we are in a pandemic, people are dying and services aren’t running at their usual speed.

Our chain fell apart because the upper upper chain had a Covid fatality and the middle chain participants had quite a bit of strain placed on their relationship due to lockdown Covid side effects.

All in all house hunting in a pandemic is not for the faint hearted.

Resilience, empathy and speed are key.

Chains fall apart, people let you down, but our lives are priceless and as long as we hold on tight to those, we have all that we need!

The evil chain that stole my dream home – Background Story

Part 1

In this series I will be detailing the personal experience of trying to buy & sell property throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

2 weeks ago I shared disappointing news on my Instagram I had received a week prior. 

My husband and I were in the process of selling our flat and buying a new family home with a garden in acknowledgement of our son turning 1 and the need to size up. 

This all fell through 1 day before exchange was due and 2 weeks before completion was due.

Many had questions, many were scared, many didn’t want this to happen to them, so here we are.

Enjoy the 4 part series.

March

In March 2020 we put our property on the market. A week later the country was placed in a lockdown due to the rapid spread and threat of the COVID-19 virus.

This was not a great start to a journey we thought would be quite simple given my background and the fact that we’ve bought a property before with ease.

Everything was bought to a dramatic holt. No movement.

May

Things began to ease and we started to house hunt and made Offers on 2 properties – these were accepted. Now we just needed to find a buyer for our flat. Fast forward a few weeks – we lost house 1 because we took too long. With the seller being on haste, she sold the house to a chain free first time buyer for a lesser amount.

The second house was still in the works and both the agent and seller were patient with us.

July

In July 2020 the Chancellor announced the stamp duty holiday. This was great news for us. This stamp duty holiday meant that our expenses were to be bought right down. We then understood that we had more money to play with. It was a matter of, do we look for bigger houses? Or continue with what we had been looking at, presenting more deposit bringing our mortgage down/doing a more luxurious Reno job. 

August

At this point we’ve had around 5 viewings. No serious offers and everyone commenting on our slightly dated kitchen. 

September 

Aware of the stamp duty holiday potentially coming to an end in March 2021, we started to house hunt in September 2020 with the hope to exchange contracts and complete on our Sale/Purchase around December 2020 – January 2021

October

The second house we had made an offer on in May had been sold at this point due to our lack of a buyer. We were okay with this as we wasn’t too keen on all of the works the electrics needed. The house was a detached Edwardian home and needed a full rewiring (alarm bells).

Later this month we had a buyer! We began to give up hope until this lovely man came for a viewing with his business partner, shook hands with my husband and determined a gentleman’s contract had been made. 

We began to scramble because we no longer had a house we wanted. We immediately started to view properties, short list and then we found the one!

It was beautiful, had a drive, garage and a newly fitted modern wood burning fireplace.

We made an offer, it was accepted and the rush was on!

Days later our solicitors couldn’t get hold of our buyer and he advised that he was no longer looking for an investment flat as he had previously only dealt with houses due to leases bla bla bla. 

This was very disheartening and meant that we were now causing delays for the house we were buying.

November 

The agent that was orchestrating  our purchase of the house was great and quickly helped us find suitable buyers. We had viewings after viewings and eventually accepted an offer with the condition that things had to proceed quite quickly. 

December 

Searches had been paid for. Leasehold paperwork had been paid for. The solicitors we’re going through the motions and satisfying as much as they could.

Everyone in the chain was getting itchy feet. Things were dragging and our buyers were taking their sweet time. Eventually they got their mortgage sorted, searches back and we all awaited exchange/completion dates. Given the festive season, we knew this wouldn’t take place until the New Year

January 2021

COVID-19 was lurking. Some in the chain became victims and there were layers knocked off of the upper chain – this meant that it went from 6 parts to 4 parts.

It was understood by all parties that completion had to take place 2 weeks after the exchange of contracts due to the top of the chain’s situation.

14th January – the day before the anticipated exchange of contracts. We receive a call from the agent letting us know that unfortunately the sellers of the house we were hoping to buy are no longer proceeding for personal reasons. Everything fell apart. 

FAQ’s

What is the Stamp Duty Holiday? 

On 8 July 2020, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a temporary stamp duty holiday that cut the rate of stamp duty to zero per cent for all properties £500,000 or under until 31 March 2021.

What is Stamp Duty?

Stamp duty is the tax governments place on legal documents, usually in the transfer of assets or property. … These taxes were called stamp duties because a physical stamp was used on the document as proof that the document had been recorded and the tax liability paid.

What is a Chain?

A chain is a series of linked house purchases which are mutually dependent for a successful outcome. Your chain consists of the person you’re selling a home to, and the person you’re buying from.

Join me next Monday for post 2 of 4.

There will be a New Post every Monday of February 2021

8th February 2021 – “The evil chain that stole my dream home – House hunting in a pandemic”

15th February 2021 “The evil chain that stole my dream home – No chain, no pain. New builds”

Coming soon “The evil chain that stole my dream home – Recovery. What’s next?”

How to Guide: Dealing with Solicitors and ensuring your Property Purchase is dealt with in a timely manner

Over the years we have discussed putting in the ground work to ensure that your credit is up to par and you have the right processes in place to save more than you spend.

We then went on to discuss the Mortgage Application process, affordability and the difference between a Mortgage Broker and going straight to a High Street Bank.

In the midst of the above we discussed the valuation process, covenants and the enemy of progress that is known as Japanese knot weed.

We’ve briefly touched on making an Offer on a property and ways in which you can justify offering 5 to 10 thousand pounds less than the asking price.

Today we are going to focus on the last leg of the property acquisition process – Solicitors!

It is so easy to get tangled up in a tumbleweed of legal jargon and be scared away by the legal process, but it is quite simple, especially with Residential purchases.

Below are my top 3 tips to dealing with solicitors and ensuring your case is dealt with in a timely manner.

  1. Fill out all questionnaires and property packs following the instructions of your solicitors to a T. If it says to use block capitals and black ink, do it! If for whatever reason the solicitors forget to do something later on down the line, they can turn that delay back around on you and claim that they were waiting for “correctly filled out forms”.

2. Reply to all emails in a timely manner responding to ALL questions. If you need to do a little bit of research, do it. Don’t reply to an email in parts. Respond answering all questions in one go. Be very specific and over share if you think any detail will help. Delays often occur when solicitors have a response to question 1 & 3, but are waiting for a response to question 2. This may come weeks later and get lost within the email thread.

3. Searches. These need to be done promptly as some can take up to 6 weeks to come back. Some solicitors require some sort of payment before carrying out any searches as these are non-refundable and will need to be paid for whether the transaction goes ahead or not. Pay the fee and get the ball rolling from day 1.

There are so many other details we can dive in to, but the top 3 have sometimes been the difference between someone completing on their purchase in 7 weeks and someone completing in 7 months.

“Movers are more likely to benefit from the Stamp Duty holiday than first time buyers”.

Original picture: Woburn Sands area

It’s no secret that we are in a pandemic. The Government has been updating us quite frequently regarding new procedures and initiatives to help the economy and those who are going through a really hard time.

One of the initiatives that was announced was the Stamp Duty holiday. This was a bid to boost Britains housing market.

What this means is that someone who decided to sell their home and buy a new one would no longer have to pay stamp duty on the new property providing it cost them £500,000 or less.

This initiative doesn’t do much for first time buyers as they haven’t had to pay stamp duty on the first £300,000 of their first property for some time, however, previously they would of had to pay 5% on the excess amount between £300,001 – £500,000. 

As soon as this initiative was announced, the housing market picked up massively. The boost most definitely took place!

Home owners used this opportunity to save thousands of pounds. 

To give you an idea of how great this initiative is, check out this example:

Someone sells their house for £350,000, moves and buys a house for £400,000 as they want to upsize and have enough equity to do so. In 2019 and even up to 8 July 2020, they would of had to pay £10,000 in stamp duty. 

Fast forward to now, this person would pay £0 stamp duty hence the urgency in the housing market.

Many people are trying to move, upsize, downsize and the rest of it before the end of March 2021. April 2021 is the beginning of a new financial year and looking at the deficit the country is currently in due to furlough, bail out funds and the rest of it, we are all going to pay with the potential increase of taxes and the return of stamp duty!

We also have another issue on our hands. Due to the property demand being high, many are prepared to pay a lot more for certain properties in the way of a bidding war…

This is a discussion for next week.