Friday, 29 August 2008

It's good to share

In many ways I am nervous about living on my own (if I ever get a flat). I am someone who really enjoys their own company but there is also nothing quite like the banter you can have with the friends you live with and you do form a kind of family bond which I would really miss.

Of course a lot of people buy a flat and rent out a room to a friend but I'm not sure that I can afford the extra room. More to the point I have never really liked the idea of making money out of friends and also of the relationship being that of landlord and tenant and all the problems that could create.

The relationship a landlord and tenant have, even if they are friends, is fundamentally different. You don't have that shared bond of not owning the place, you can't complain about the hideous colour of the curtains or why they chose those tiles and you can't just phone someone if something breaks.

So eventually we all move on and we couldn't share with friends forever but it can be really fun and I think sometimes people are a bit too keen to miss out on the experience.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Stagnant propery pool

So I am still here and still looking for a potential first flat to purchase.

I don't think there is ever a good time to be looking and although all the talk of a possible freeze to stamp duty and further price falls on flats does concern me I have waited a long time to be able to afford anywhere so I want to keep looking- and hope that I might be able to get a bit of a bargain.

The real problem I have found and am finding is that the market is so stagnant and there aren't very many new flats becoming available where I am looking.

I assume this is because those who don't have to move are probably waiting. I feel like I spend my days looking at the same details hoping that somehow the 500 square foot flat will have morphed into a 600 square foot one or stopped having scary looking bars on the windows.

I don't want this blog to be like a constant moan about estate agents because I am hearing back from some very good ones but some of them really do mystify me.

There are at least 2 properties which I have requested details for more than twice and I am just not hearing back from them. I have said i have a 25% deposit and am ready to go and... nothing... but they never appear to be sold or under offer.

I think they don't like you enquiring over the internet but I always list all my contact details so they could try and call me!

I wonder how many vendors know that enquiries have been made about their flats and those enquiring are not being answered.


Thursday, 21 August 2008

Estate agent notices I exist

Interestingly the agent for the property I saw on Saturday has obviously been chased up by the vendor.

Having called me and been very brief on Monday saying he understood I was very interested (which I had never said to either him or the vendor)and he would leave me to arrange a second viewing for myself as I already had the vendor's number (because I had been left a voicemail saying he was too busy to arrange things and could I the first time around).

Well now that I haven't arranged a viewing myself he is apparently going to be very kind to me and arrange one for me. I feel blessed with his kindness.

Unfortunately I don't think the property is for me and I don't want to waste the vendors time. I hope for their sake I have had a bad experience with this agent, if I was them I might think about changing!

Let's go inside

The Independent's house and home section is a bit of a find today.

Firstly they have a piece on designer Sara Berman's home with the all important pictures (the bedroom above is my favourite).

They also have a piece about Jamie and Jessica Seaton's (the founders of Toast) secret address book for interiors here

Wednesday, 20 August 2008


So this weekend's two viewings became one because one agent could only see me at 12pm when I was at the other viewing.

This was my first viewing as a serious potential buyer. I have been to viewings with friends and family but never on my own.

The agent couldn't come as they had such a busy weekend of viewings. I know this is very common and I didn't mind meeting the owner on my own (his partner was there too). With hindsight although the vendor was very nice and helpful as I am new to this I really could have done with the help of an agent to wrap things up and put a bit of space between the vendor and I. I am a born people pleaser and have to train myself out of the mindset of it always being suitable to be friendly with people.

I came away with all sorts of confused ideas about not being that keen on the flat but really liking the people- which I am not so silly as to think matters but they know where I live (thanks for telling them agent!) and presumably have my number as I had to phone to say could I come because the agent was too busy (thanks again!) so I don't want them to hound me!

I think the rule about having to see somewhere is definitely true. However on the other hand it also complicates issues more. I knew the block and location and that the flat needed work, had seen the measurements and pictures online (all of which were accurate I must say, not too rose tinted) but seeing the place gave me a more romatizised view of living there and having my own place.

Practically though I think that the location of the flat in the block isn't very strong and I think if I needed to re sell it people would say they didn't like it because they would feel overlooked.

From talking to other agents I know that all this having to do everything myself is unusual but the whole thing has left me with a real feeling of dissapointment in my mouth.

Is it because I am a first time buyer that the agent were so uninterested in me? Is it because I don't have enough to spend? Is it because they just don't care anymore? This flat had been on the market for months and I was really keen and the whole thing just left me feeling vulnerable to being chased by the vendor and like perhaps I was a waste of time and would never find someone I like.

I have still been looking this week but with a lot less zeal.

I am away this weekend so no viewings but I am going to continue to keep my diary of my experiences with all things property/ first time buyer.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Am I a WOFT?

I read this article in Friday's Telegraph with interest, tried to commit to memory some of the witty abbreviations and carried on with my reading.

Later that day the agent rang about my first viewing on Saturday morning. They were sorry but they were very busy (really?) and the vendor would show me themselves. I didn't mind this, I know it's quite normal and didn't really think more of it. However when they didn't bother to reply to my e-mail confirming the details or to follow up with a call I started to wonder- do they think I'm a WOFT? (waste of time).

I found myself slighly offended. I am certainly serious about looking, although this flat was at the very top of my budget I felt almost that I should go back to them and say I was interested just so they didn't call me a WOFT.

To be honest I feel it's the agency that are the WOFT. They failed to respond to 2 e-mail requests for information in 2 seperate weeks. They didn't come to the one viewing on a weekend of a flat they are the sole agent for, which has been on the market for a year.

More on my first viewings to follow...

Friday, 15 August 2008

How to avoid buying the wrong property

So this morning The Times offers us these top 10 tips on how to avoid buying the wrong property.

The advice feels very timely as I'm off to look at flats this weekend.

It's good to know that the factors they think are important are mostly the ones I had in my mind.

However when I read the article as a whole I did think that many London flats should be discounted altogether. Point 1 tells us to 'Avoid at all costs: busy roads, train and Tube lines, and the flight-paths of major airports, especially those marked for expansion' surely all of London is on the Heathrow flight path at some point during the week, all of London is near busy roads (unless you can bag a lovely mews house which is not quite in my price range)okay not all of London is near a noisy train but if you want to be near enough for a five minute dash in the morning you can often hear the tube/ overground train.

Perhaps the list should be a bit different for London.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Toaster perfection?

I just received one of those e-mails companies send you about new products they have available for you. It was entitled kitchen essentials... I thought it's always worth a peek, for research you understand.

This product strikes me as absolute genius, a toaster that also poaches eggs- what's not to like about that?

Granted it's not the prettiest toaster I have ever seen but I would be willing to overlook that (or put it away after use) in return for a perfect poached egg on toast being made while I was in the shower every morning!

Higher or lower: which floor?

Following on from yesterday's dilemna regarding whether it's better to buy a one or two bed flat I wanted to discuss another issue that plays on my mind- whether it's better to go for a higher floor or the ground floor.

In short the ground floor positives are: no stairs to deal with for anyone older or with any mobility issues, being far easier when bringing in/ taking out furniture, shopping etc, more sense of space and often a garden or the sense of a garden.

Ground floor negatives are: less security- a big one.

The pro's of going for something higher up, as I see it, are: greater security, possibly nice views, possibly better leg muscles.

The cons of higher floors are: the issues with shopping, buggies, getting furniture in and out, access for older people.

I have done some web based research and can find no mention of ground floor flats either being worth less or harder to sell. Neither can I find any information about flats in tall buildings being sold for more/ less (except where they are in an awful block where the lift doesn't work or isn't safe- but that's a whole other issue).

In truth no property is ever going to be perfect to everyone- or it's price would certainly be far out of my reach- still in a tough market these things are being considered more- and therefore I have to think about them when I think about any potential properties.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

One bed or two?

Looking for a property to purchase is surely never simple. This is my first time but I'm sure the dilemmas are no different whether like me you can't decide if you should stretch to a 2 bed or go for a more keenly priced one bed, or if you can't decide between the 5 or 6 bed house. There always has to be compromise.

I am currently speaking to mortgage brokers and estate agents about if I can afford anything in the area I would like! However it does seem with the softening in the market that some 2 bed flats are becoming within my reach. However it would be my extended, more highly mortgaged reach.

I am by nature cautious about this kind of thing but the security of having an extra room to potentially let out if needed feels attractive on the one hand. On the other of course I have read that it's 2 bedroom flats that the country as a whole is over supplied with. Added to that were I to sell a one bed might be more attractive to the first time buyers I would be most likely to sell on to.

An estate agent told me during the boom times that a one bedroom flat was the best investment because people were always looking for them. However given that at the time I was clearly a single person who might potentially be looking to purchase a broom cupboard perhaps that's what he would have said...

So this weekend I have two to view, a one bed and a two, oh what would be best to do!

There should be one of those guides for dummies on property, or an equation. First time buyer+ low attitude to risk+ uncertain economic outlook=

But what would the equation say- 1 bed or 2?

An introduction

A Home of One's Own borrows from Virginia Woolf's famous essay title: A Room of One's Own.

Woolf argued in this essay that 'a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction'. I am stretching this idea to say that in the modern world young women and men must have a home of their own to both feel and be perceived as successful and, to my mind more importantly, to develop and grow.

I am female and am 27 but I would like this blog to be relevant to anyone of any age, whether they own or aspire to own property, or not, or don't!

For the sake of background and context I live in south- west London and work in central London. That hopefully doesn't mean this blog will be Londoncentric. I love London very much and obviously it is perhaps what I know best and what I will have experience of- but I am interest in the property market madness across the UK.