Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Weekend viewing= good

Weekend viewing does eat into my relaxing time but I definitely get a better look at the flats than the after work viewings where the estate agent wants to go home (fair enough) and I have rushed there.

The viewing on Saturday was a really nice flat in a good location.

The living/ kitchen room is a really good size and there is a nice balcony.

The only down sides are that the flat back onto a train line. All the flats locally do because they are the ones that are within a ten minute walk but it would affect the value in tricky market conditions, although I guess they are tricky now and I'm looking at it.

The bedroom was also the smallest one I have seen yet! literally room for a double bed and barely room on either side to get in and a single built in wardrobe and that was it.

So the living space is great but the sleeping space is not so good and I would have to come up with an amazing storage solution for my clothes! Still I'm sure a snug sleeping space makes you feel secure or something. Perhaps I could hang clothes from the ceiling.

It doesn't need any work doing- it has a lovely kitchen and bathroom.

I also I really like and know the area.

The 2 bed was not available to be seen as the owner has decided to let it which I guess isn't a surprise. He probably didn't want to get less than 250K for it and I certainly would have offered less than that.

So so far it's 2 one bed flats that have been of any interest which makes sense really because they are nicer and a 2 bed is a real stretch for my budget so I'm looking at the not so nice ones.

The search continues but with all the worry about finances, banks and jobs it does give you pause and make you think perhaps the rental life is good for the blood pressure. I do keep thinking panic panic what would I do if...

Friday, 12 September 2008

2 to view

2 more viewings this weekend.

Both are 60s/ 70s architecture- not my favourite on the outside but they're not horribly ugly and buildings from this period always have lots of light and are bigger inside than more modern stuff.

A one bed and a two bed again.

No estate agent related problems this week except one who seems to have IT problems and has sent details of one property 20 times in the last 24 hours!!

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Are estate agents deaf?

So yesterday I had a follow up call from the estate agent for viewng 2.

I asked if he could find out about service charges.

I said this was my only break today (I definitely work in a deskfast and dunch type of office) and I can't answer the phone at work so could he either leave me a voicemail with the informaion or e-mail me. I leave work after the estate agents and I don't think they have to speak to me every time they impart information.

He said yes of course, no problem. He would e-mail me or leave a message with the information and I could call him back when I could or at the weekend. He completely understands and there is no need to talk to me about a simple bit of information like a service charge.

He phoned back later that day and did leave a voicemail... however it gave no information and said could I call him back as soon as I could- he has the information I want!

Great... and he is going to hold it hostage until I sneak out to phone him apparently!

Why say it's okay to not constantly talk to me if it's not?!

Well I will wait until the weekend then. I appreciate this might mean someone else gets in there first but estate agents seem to think I should treat my search as a full time job and I already have one of those and I need to keep it to pay the mortgage on the still very expensive flats they don't want to give me information about.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

No change

I feel I can write about yesterday's property news with more clarity today.

As virtually all the commentators have pointed out the stamp duty changes don't really affect people looking to buy in London as much as in some areas, however they might help me to some extent.

I was looking in the £200,000 or so bracket, I think (all things bank, interest rate, charges etc being equal). I would like the smallest mortgage possibly and it's possible that this news will help me.

Realistically for what I want I am already looking at properties out of my price range, because there aren't really any in my price range, and am hoping I can make cheeky offers. So I'm looking at properties 10-20% above budget- and I would love to come in under budget!

Now this news might mean I can make even more cheeky offers, at around the £174,999 price. However there is certainly no guarantee they would be accepted. It is still about a vendor being happy to take an offer. My offer would be low but I would intend to stick to it bar anything coming up in terms of extra costs in surveys and so on. I am not looking to gazump someone.

However looking outside my own situation this new legislation seems potentially extremely damaging for anyone looking to sell for between £175k and £225k or above. If I had bought a flat in recent years and was needing to sell now I would be very unhappy with the government.

As a potential buyer I feel a real lack of confidence in the government's ability to hold firm with policies and to try and have a long term outlook.

I am first and foremost looking for a roof over my head and a place to make a home; a secure place of my own where I can live my life. We have all been trained into thinking that with a home purchase we will also get a gain in value. This has to be seen as an extra and is not my only reason for looking to buy. However I plainly don't want to lose money that I have worked hard to save ever since I left University. I'm afraid I don't feel confident the government won't totally change all their plans again in 6 months time and I don't feel like they really want to help me!

If they had wanted to help me they could have tried a year or two years ago, or even four years ago. They didn't seem interested then, they were very happy for my parents who had worked hard all their lives to now approaching retirement act as guarantors on a huge loan for me (I would not have been). They were very happy for me to buy a property if I was a key worker, but I'm not, except that I pay lots of tax, which is in some ways key. They were very happy for me to have to consider living an hour and a half away and pay £3k a year in rail fares. Or perhaps I could have moved somewhere else entirely, away from all my family friends and connections so that I could live in a small affordable flat somewhere where I knew no one and had no quality of life at all.

Come on Boris...

match this Sicilian mayor offers houses for 1 euro

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Helping first time buyers? thoughts on government help and shared ownership

I really enjoyed this article by Ross Clarke in The Times this morning.

He is basically arguing that most of the governments scheme to help first time buyers are motivated out of self interest to keep votes. Which of course we probably do all know if we think about it but it can be very difficult if you have been waiting for years to have your own place to be level headed so an article like this is very helpful in giving perspective.

Furthermore he discusses the government's plans to increase shared equity schemes. These are something I have always avoided like the plague. I have felt that they leave you open to risk. Fine you can buy 50% of an often lovely flat in an area that you could never afford otherwise but what happens about the other half?

I'm sure the housing companies who own the other half aren't investing purely to break even. I don't mean the housing companies are looking for anything more than a healthy return on their investment but surely if the housing market continues to fall they will need to start cashing in investments.

Also what would happen if one of these companies was unfortunate enough to go into administration?

No when I finally own I want to own the whole property or own with someone I trust going into the purchase.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Viewing number two and the re sale factor

As the snappy title suggests I had another viewing today.

This property was a one bed and much smaller (about 400 square feet). It was also in a beautiful house that has been converted into flats rather than a purpose built block.

The location is great and it doesn't need too much work.

I also definitely got a good feeling about the place.

Walking home I was trying to think in an impartial way about the good and bad points of a really quite small property.

On the plus side the utility bills would be cheap, as would the Council tax (well cheaper... still obviously very expensive...)

I would have to get used to having a capsule wardrobe (something that sometimes feels appealing for about five minutes) but that would probably save me money- money which I would need to pay the large mortgage I would have on my teeny property.

But really the selling point of this flat is it's location, 2 minutes from the overground and about 4 minutes from the tube.

Of course we all know how important location is but does it make up for loosing about 400 square feet?

I kept thinking that for some people, possibly men, it might- but that a lot of women might not appreciate a small living space.

I am trying to focus on buying somewhere that would have wide appeal when I want to sell it on and it's distracting me to some extent I think- but then surely if you buy a one bedroom flat you don't expect to live in it forever and you should buy something that has wide appeal for selling on or renting should you need it.

The problem is it's hard to think with your head and not your heart when you see somewhere you really like...