So over the Christmas holidays Mark and I decided; right Glasgow - we love this city, we're not going anywhere in medium-term future, let's buy somewhere to live. To be honest, the thought wouldn't have crossed my mind, but my husband is an accountant - nuff said.
So we decided that since we had a long holiday that extended a bit into January, on our return to Glasgow, we would blitz this buying a flat and nail it in a couple of weeks max. We did manage to wade through a sea of mortgage providers and all that melarkey pretty successfully in that time period - Mark made a ton of spreadsheets, as he does, so that did the job quite nicely. We manage to view a good few flats in that time. But as for finding the flat, well it's mid Feb and considering the fact we still haven't found one we're happy with yet, we may have just been a little optimistic... See it turns out a nice flat in our budget is more than likely to have any of a whole range of problems.
Let me present to you three flats that we have seriously considered to illustrate:
Numero Un: Let's call it Knotweed flat - Great flat, convenient area for everything, good amount of space, has a converted attic (!!), very cheap!
Read the home report and... Japanese Knotweed in the back garden, asbestos in the roof, falling apart chimney (bear in mind this is a top floor flat) to name but a few "3" (the worst rating it could possibly get) level serious issues.
Do we take the risk or do we not?! A dilemma that we have yet to make up our minds conclusively about...
Numero Deux: aka Flat of Bling. This flat was in pretty much the same location as the first, had almost as much space minus the converted attic. Neighbours were nice (we even knew one of them!) Home report looked pretty good, the deco was in their words "better than average". Not sure if "better than average" meant tasteful; think silver sparkly toilet seat and multi-coloured lights embedded into the dining room floor.
Now you may think, what's the problem here, decoration is easy enough to change. But it's hard to consider changing it, when the less than likeable rather irritating owner gives a running commentary as she takes you round a tour of the flat on how much everything cost (a lot!), how she put her heart and soul into making it hers. As horrible as I found some of it, I didn't really feel I had the heart to buy it off her and then tear out all of her heart-felt blingy work.
Matter has been taken out of our hands at any case, because our solicitor thinks it's too expensive for what it is, and is currently trying to barter down the price. Secretly felt rather relieved about that.
Numero 3: "The house in a tower block" ticked all the boxes and it wasn't too far from where we lived now. The owners were really nice; that always sways me more than I think it should! But it seemed I was more attached to the area we had been aiming for because we thought we could afford it more than I thought, and the thought of moving further away from the beloved area where I work just now or some of my fantastic esol students who have recently also moved into that general direction was surprisingly less than appealing. We've had to change one of those tick boxes.
That's just a small number of the flats we've seen, and there have been some other possibilities on the horizon so it's not like this is all there is! But it most definitely has become more confusing and complicated than we thought it would become.
Here's some advice, if you ever fancy buying a place yourself and have never done it before.
- Have an idea of what you're looking for before you go looking for it - it saves time.
- Read the home report before you go view it. You get better at that the more you do it. I have become a master in home report skimming, I just keep my eyes out for those buzz words for example having a pitched roof is apparently pretty important, my dad convinced me on that one!
- An important question to consider, especially if it has any structural issues: is there a factor, and if there's no factor, are the neighbours nice and approachable?
- Turns out finding and buying a house/flat in 2 weeks is a little unrealistic, allow for a bit more time than that if you're gonna do it.
- Get a good solicitor you can trust, that helps a LOT!
Have to say, I'm enjoying the adventure of not knowing and having to let God lead us inch by inch.
Just watch this space.