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!

Questions to ask when viewing a property

1. When was the last time the *electrics were checked? (Particularly important for Victorian/Edwardian houses, not so relevant for New Builds)

2. Has there ever been any water damage to the property? Flood, roof leak etc.

3. How long has the property been on the market?

4. Roughly how much are the monthly property related bills? Water, gas, electric, council tax, Building insurance2, internet

5. How old is the roof? (Particularly important for Victorian/Edwardian houses, not so relevant for New Builds)

6. Have the owners done any renovations within the last 5 years?

7. How long have the owners lived here?

8. How far is the supermarket/train station?

9. What is the parking like? Do you have an allocated spot, drive way or is it first come first served?

10. Whats the crime like in the area? 

11. Does the property have a restrictive 3covenant? If the Agent is unsure, dig!

12. Is there a 4chain? How quickly does/can the owner want to proceed to completion?

Ultimately, the seller/agent has one goal, sell the property! Take what they say with a pinch of salt and do some research of your own. Ask friends that live in/know of the area. Get a feel for the vibe on the street.

Go to your official viewing in the day and once you feel like you are willing to proceed with the purchase, visit the property and its surrounding area in the night to get a real feel for what it’d be like living there. Pay close attention to noise, anti social behaviour, over crowded parking etc. 

1Electrics are particularly important, you can reasonably knock off £10,000 from the asking price of a property if the electrics have not been given the once over within the last 10 years. This is something you will definitely have to get done as soon as possible, this involves checking plug sockets, making sure no wires/cable are frayed and checking that the lights are working properly with no buzzing sound. Worse case scenario you will have to rewire the property. Rewiring a property is not cheap, but if required, is essential for older houses to prevent electrical fault damage which can ultimately lead to fires etc. 

2Building insurance is a necessity and legal requirement for a House. It is not required for a flat as you are covered under the ground rent that you pay to the Landlord/Freeholder. 

3A restrictive covenant can encourage neighbours to be to create harmony and deter anti social behaviour. It can also prevent you from carrying out certain actions like extensions, loft conversions or converting the house in to flats etc.

Obtain copies of the properties title from the official Land Registry website to be sure there’s no surprises.

4A property chain is created when more than one buyer is involved in a transaction. For example, say you are buying a home from someone and they are moving to a new home they are buying from another. That is an upward property chain, meaning that your completion date (when you move in) is likely to be affected by the date when your seller can move into their new home too.

If you’d like to add to the list of questions to ask when viewing a property, feel free to comment below. Happy House Hunting!

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.

Financial Hack: Turn £100 in to £21,600 – Your 18 Year Old dependent will thank you!

The most daunting thing is the creation of life and the responsibility to lead, teach and grow the little human you’ve brought in to the world. 

They never chose to be here. That was down to us and our significant other. Now that they are here, we have to ensure that we set them up for success and entrench some core values. 

Many people are broken and make warped adult decisions due to a fragile childhood, non existent good examples and lack of nurturing. 

Financial Hack: Turn £100 in to £21,600

As 2 parents, you can both individually set aside £50 a month for your child – Or £100 as a single parent.

Over 12 months this £100 equates to £1,200

Over 18 years this £100 a month totals to £21,600

Once your child hits their 18th birthday they’ve already been given a head start. You can give them these funds, but also teach them financial intelligence. They can continue what you started 18 years ago and build on the funds (£100 per month), purchase a car or invest in their education. 

The options are limitless, but the important thing is that you’ve led the way, given them a booster and your dependent will most definitely thank you for this!