“It’s hugely exciting, mildly terrifying and extremely stressful. But I cannot wait to get a house that we can officially call ours.”
Love It or List It – that’s the question.
If you have no idea what I’m making reference to here, then you need to sit yourself down for the night, turn on Channel 4 and binge watch Kirstie and Phil’s “Love It or List It” – it’s oh so good and fulfils all my interior dreams (and my need to be nosy).
Anyway, before I digress too much, let’s chat all things houses!
As many of you will already know if you follow me on Instagram, Harry and I have decided to “list it” with our current house and move on up the property ladder. Technically for me, I’ll officially be joining the property ladder. Our current house is owned by Harry and as he loves to tell everyone, I’m his “tenant”… cheeky.
It’s hugely exciting, mildly terrifying and extremely stressful. But I cannot wait to get a house that we can officially call ours.
I’ve instantly starting pinning interior inspo, thought about new furniture I want, followed a zillion interior accounts on Instagram and it’s all I seem to be thinking about, and talking about, to anyone I can get to listen. So, I thought it was only fitting to share it all with you too – the process, what we’re looking for, and where we’re going from here.
Fingers crossed we’ll be homeowners in the not too distant future!
Step 1: Choosing to “list it”
Let’s take a minute to rewind to three years ago. That’s when Harry first bought our current house we’re living in. I was finishing up at Uni, so not only was it logical for us to move in together as I’d secured a job in Birmingham, but I guess we also kind of fancied the prospect of living together too…
We moved into a two up, two down Victorian terrace house. The interior was shocking, and in all honesty, I found it hard to see past it all. Imagine terracotta, yellow and bright green walls EVERYWHERE. But, Harry quickly made his mind up and voila! It was ours. There was no real heavy-duty work that needed doing straight away (thank goodness), but the decorating was something else. Four coats of paint in every room later, and I think I can say with confidence that this house has put me off painting for life. In fact, the thought of doing it all over again is nearly enough to make me question what the hell we’re doing.
In the three years since we’ve lived here, we’ve now painted everywhere, changed all of the flooring and upgraded the bathroom. It’s a lovely, neat little home. As excited as I am to have more living space, I’ll also miss it hugely. I’m a sentimental kind of gal when I want to be.
Harry and I had been talking about moving house and buying together for a few months before this point. I don’t think either of us took it too seriously as Harry had not long started his own business. For us, our next logical step was to look at upgrading the kitchen as that was the last thing that really needed doing. That idea was soon squashed after we got quotes through – £10k minimum. The estate agents soon advised us that this wouldn’t be a good use of our time, or money, so here we are! The decision to “list it” was made.
Step 2: Our “must-haves”
When moving to any home, you’re always going to have a list of “wants” and “would likes”. I’ve talked before about all the things we’ve learnt and wish we’d known before having our first home. This time around we definitely have more of a check list than we ever did before. The “would likes” are things that would be lovely, but aren’t compulsory right now. Things like a bigger garden, or an ensuite bathroom. That being said, we also have some firm “wants” too – the non-negotiable things that our next house must have. These include:
- A house in our ‘ideal’ location in Birmingham – as much as I like where we live now, it’s just not the area we can imagine being in for the long-haul. Our ‘ideal’ location is of course mega expensive (it’s always the way isn’t it?!) but it gives us the lifestyle we want. The convenience of being walking distance to shops, things to do on our door step, generally a nicer area to live in and good schools (although that thought alone seems mad right now!)
- A 3 bed house – for me personally, I can’t see any point in paying a huge amount of money to move for a like-for-like house. It’s got to offer more – a lot more – than what we currently have, and so rightfully so, it’s time to move up in size.
- Space to grow – we’re not viewing this move to be another 2-3 year house. We want to be in it for a long time (I’m thinking more the 5-10 year mark) and so we need to be able to have enough space to grow. Our current house is lovely, but it’s small and after three years, we’re ready for more living space. We want enough room that we’re not living on top of one another, enough space to have guests over without it feeling cramped, and enough space to grow in.
- A bigger kitchen – we’ve been living with a galley kitchen for the past 3 years and I can’t tell you how much I hate it. I don’t enjoy spending time in there (I’m using that as my excuse for why I don’t like cooking and sticking with it), it’s too small if there’s more than one of you in there at one time and we’ve both just about had enough!
We soon learnt that finding a house you both love is not the easiest, and there’s always got to be compromise somewhere along the line. For example, when we first started our search, a drive was originally in my non-negotiable list. I soon realised that for a house in the area we want, that’s within our price range, that just wasn’t ever going to happen. Once you start viewing houses, it’s actually a lot easier to understand exactly what it is you want and you soon learn what’s actually really important to you. Right now, we’re not buying our ‘dream house’ and we’re both well aware of that. So, compromise is a given (this time around anyway).
Step 3: It’s all in the finances
Unfortunately, houses are not cheap. Who’d have thought?! Annoyingly, because Harry has already bought a house, the fact that I’m a first time homeowner gets disregarded. We therefore have to pay the full whack of stamp duty. And my oh my is that painful.
When you buy a house, it’s so easy to get caught up in just thinking about the mortgage and how much you can afford each month. It’s also easy to forget that you’ll need extra money, right now, to pay for solicitor fees, surveys and stamp duty on top of the money you have for a deposit. It’s a very pricy ordeal.
We’ve worked hard to save enough money, but Harry and I have definitely not gone down the traditional route you’d expect – and it’s not one I’d necessarily recommend either. We still don’t actually have our mortgage in principle yet, but we’ve found a house we love. See the problem?
With Harry having his own business, it wasn’t until very recently that you could apply for a mortgage before you’d had accounts for at least two years. A few banks have now changed that, and you’re able to apply for a mortgage after one year of accounts. This is what really spurred us on to take the plunge and start house hunting – although there’s still no guarantee you’ll be given a mortgage. Harry now has his accounts, but we’re still having to wait on his accountant to sort through them.
While waiting on all of this and after checking our affordability ourselves, we thought we’d start looking at houses in the area to see what came up. We decided we wanted to start looking at houses straight away. I know house hunting can sometimes take months, even years, and so we didn’t expect to find anything quickly. But, the fourth house viewing later and that was that. It completely surprised both of us.
What can we say. It was just a feeling we had when we were there. I tend to think of it the same way as when people try on “the one” for their wedding dress. When you know, you just know. I walked in and could instantly imagine us living there. It felt homely.
It’s expensive. Very expensive. It’s still a Victorian terrace house that definitely doesn’t look bigger than our current house from the outside. And it’s far more than the top of our budget we originally agreed on. But, it’s so much better than what we have now and there’s so much potential to make it a real “wow” house. We’re so excited about it, and we’re so ready to be able to put our own stamp on it. For now, we’ve just got to hope we get that mortgage in principle ASAP and can put an official offer on the house. Then, we’ve just got the task of selling our own! Wish us luck!
Oh, and if you have any tips or tricks for moving house and keeping stress levels down, please let us know!