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!

Join me next week for, “The evil chain that stole my dream home – No chain, no pain. New builds”

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”

22nd February 2021 “The evil chain that stole my dream home – Recovery. What’s next?”

“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. 

How to Guide: Starting a New Job remotely

It’s that season. Lockdown, COVID and redundancies. But it doesn’t all have to be doom and gloom. 

Some have found better opportunities, progressed and attained better paid jobs saving more (on travel) whilst working remotely. 

Others were made redundant and forced to finally kick start their passion or made huge U turns in their careers they were previously too scared to do – 👏🏾 you’ve got this!

The field you work in will determine your onboarding, training and use of numerous systems.

Today I will be focusing on those who work in fields that doesn’t require physical labour and are able to work remotely.

5 Tips to starting a new job remotely – learn quick and stand out:

  1. Research the company. Understand it’s infrastructure, values and whose who

  2. Be bold. Add relevant people on LinkedIn. Diarise catch ups so that you can get to know as many people in the company as possible. Don’t get lost in the matrix or simply be an employee number at HR.

  3. Screen record! If you’re being taught a new system or process, screen record it! This will enable you to watch it back as much times as you want and use the video in real time when you’re carrying out the task. This limits the amount of time you bother people and will help you to be more efficient.

  4. Use a diary, notepad or virtual sticky note to bullet point your tasks. Add to the list as new things pop up and cross them off as you complete them. Use a scorecard system. What is urgent? What is time sensitive? What can be done tomorrow?

  5. Take your breaks! It is so easy to start early, eat on the job and finish late. Don’t do this! Work life balance is important and overworking will quickly turn what you thought was your dream job in to something you resent, not to mention the risk of burn out. Whilst it’s important to perform, it’s also important to work smart, not hard. Use spreadsheets, put forward innovative ideas that eradicate those mundane tasks and know that you’ve got this! Believe in yourself! 

Starting a new job remotely can be daunting, but I promise you that if you do my top 5 tips, the whole experience will be a lot easier!

All the best and congratulations on your new role! 

A buyers Market, not a sellers…

It’s no secret that Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on the entire world.

Millions have lost their jobs. Off of the back of this, many will have to take payment holidays on their mortgages, some may eventually fall behind on mortgage payments and some may even lose their homes due to repossession. 

What does this mean for the market?

I’m going to focus on 2 things today.

  1. It will be a buyers market, not a sellers 
  2. Lenders will have to recover a lot of unpaid debt and be a lot more frugal with who they lend to

What does this mean for you? 

The person with a home to sell…

  • Now is the time! Sell as soon as possible and sit on the funds. Move in with family, think about short term renting and sit on the proceeds of the sale as in a few months, you will be able to buy a bigger house for a lot less.
  • Fast forward a few months… If you take too long to take the leap to put your property up for sale, you may need to take an Offer much less than what you wished for.

Are you in a chain? There’ll be more about what can do next week… 

 The person with a home to buy…

  • Hold your horses. There are going to be many houses to choose from and many people desperate to sell them so this may work in your favour when it comes to negotiating on price. 
  • You may need to front more deposit than you may have initially planned due to Mortgage products being quite unstable. 90% Mortgages which require a 10% deposit have been pulled and reintroduced week by week. Lenders may also be a lot more picky with who they lend to, request much more information and be much quicker to decline applicants who don’t fit within their risk appetite 

Key take aways

Home Sellers

  • The time is now!

Home Buyers

  • Be patient. Fix your credit & save save save!

All information on my blog is opinion driven based on market trends, statistics and forecasts regarding the current situation. 

*Photo Source https://www.standard.co.uk/news/estate-agents-face-ban-on-for-sale-signs-6781275.html

Financial Hack: How long would you be able to pay your bills for if you were to lose your job tomorrow? Build your emergency fund, Thailand can wait.

At the beginning of 2020 my husband and I decided to house hunt. We bought our apartment 4 years ago, renovated and thought it was a good time to upsize.

We had a budget, we knew the area we wanted to settle down in and knew that our next move would be for the long term. 

Ideally we wanted a project. Something that was nice enough to move in to straight away, however somewhere that had room for a back extension and loft conversion.

Deal breaker. He needs his space – games room and I need mine, an office.

We made 3 offers on 3 separate properties. 2 Offers were accepted and then BAM Covid-19 triggers a lockdown.

This was a bitter sweet situation as we were given time to truly analyse and think about what we were spearheading in to.

We are living in uncertain times and it is said that it will be a while before life is truly back to normal and in many ways, we’re going to have to accept a new normal.   

Why I gave up my 4 Bedroom Detached House hunt and decided to stay in my 2 Bedroom Apartment a few more years…

After a self analysis of our finances and various eventualities we decided to remain put.

In our current state we knew that if one of us were to lose our jobs, the other could pay the bills 3x over before it became a strain. 

We knew that if both of us lost our jobs, we had enough savings to carry us over for a few months paying the bills whilst we hunted for new jobs.

If we were to upsize and take on a project this wouldn’t necessary be the case.

We’d essentially be taking on much higher outgoings because I wanted a shiny new house and project to get my paws in to – a want, not a need. 

The take away from this experience is to stay where you are until you outgrow your home and are bursting out of the seams. Or until you can financially make the move without any strain, taking all eventualities in to consideration. No one knows what tomorrow holds.

Keep those outgoings low.

Save. Save. Save.

Save. Save. Save and when it is time to upsize, you can do so effortlessly.

There’s a time to save, time to build and a time to enjoy what you’ve built. 

Tip: You should have enough savings to carry you through 3 months of a rough period. These savings will pay your Mortgage, utility bills and basic essential costs of living (travel, food etc.)

Why?
Theres an average of about a 3 month period from being made redundant to securing a new job and receiving your first “normal” pay cheque.

Build your emergency fund, Thailand can wait.