So today I thought I’d share with you a bit of a personal post about my guilty secret, namely my obsession with the housing market and visiting property portals like Rightmove, Zoopla and Purple Bricks. Browsing these websites has been something that I’ve done on a very regular basis (probably weekly) for as long as I can remember. I’ve always dreamed of having my own home and even as a student I kept my eye on property prices back home, always on the lookout for the perfect property.
Of course I knew I had no chance of getting on the property ladder at this point, but looking at houses for sale became kind of a hobby for me. I’d look at all the super expensive properties and imagine what it would be like to live there, creating a fantasy in my mind. I’d also look at the cheaper more run down properties and imagine how I could transform them with a renovation project. Actually owning a property always seemed out of reach though.
Then my husband convinced me to go see the bank manager and enquire about mortgages. It turned out we could get one after all, but living in such an expensive part of the country and knowing exactly how much properties cost in this area, I knew we wouldn’t be able to find anywhere halfway decent in budget.
As soon as I left the meeting with the bank manager I was straight on Rightmove and lo and behold I found us a lovely little flat, that was in a great area, was in good condition, with a lovely south facing garden and was within budget. We didn’t look at any other properties, we just put in an offer straight away! You may think that was a crazy thing to do, but having monitored these websites and the local housing market so closely for years, I knew that this was the perfect little gem for us to start family life in.
And we still absolutely love living here. Especially as we’ve been working through our list of minor renovation projects. We put in a completely new bathroom, we did a kitchen makeover, we updated the living room and we started to get the garden in order. Slowly but surely it’s all coming together. There’s still lots to do. We’re hoping to create a utility room, do a bedroom makeover, build a bespoke cupboard in the hallway, lay new flooring throughout and get some proper flooring put down in the loft.
We were pregnant with our first daughter when we moved in and we’ve since had another daughter so if I’m honest, the flat is getting a bit too small for us now and we could do with a four bedroom house instead of a two bedroom flat. I’ve been to see the bank manager again to find out what we could afford. I’ve kept my eye on this nifty tool that allows you to see if your home has gone up in value and by how much. I’ve had an estate agent come round for a refined valuation, and I’ve been obsessively monitoring the market. It saddens me to say that our budget just won’t stretch very far in this area.
Most properties are way over budget. Any that come close are either too small, or awful and would need a hell of a lot of work. Only problem being we’d max ourselves out getting the mortgage so we’d have no funds left to pay for renovations or even to save up for them. I can honestly say in all the years I’ve been monitoring the local housing market on the various property websites, I’ve seen about five places I’d happily move into and wouldn’t want to change too much. And they have all been way over budget!
The images that you can see in this post are of a house that went on the market recently with Purple Bricks. It has been renovated by a local property developer that I know. Every project that she takes on results in properties that are beautiful, well thought out and just perfect, really. I would have bought this property in an instant had we been able to afford it. It was on for over half a million pounds though, which is way over budget. But it offers exceptional value for money in these parts. An offer has been accepted on it recently so it’s no longer on the market sadly. But I think you’ll agree, it will make someone a gorgeous home!
We, on the other hand, are left with a serious dilemma. Do we continue to do all the projects in our flat that will make it exactly how we want it and more suited for our situation, so we can stay here long term? In doing this we would risk spending too much money on it and never be able to recoup that money if we do ever sell. Or do we hold off on doing too much work and keep the ceiling price in mind, just on the off chance we one day sell up and move? This would mean potentially spending years living in a flat that doesn’t meet our needs or make us happy.
The big thing we have considered doing is a loft conversion. We are very fortunate in that our flat benefits from quite a large loft space that could easily be turned into the extra room that we so desperately need. We’d have to spend £20-30k on this project and the estate agent who came to value our flat told us that this would be utter madness and a waste of money. But would it? If it means that we could stay here long term and have the flat work for our family can you call that wasted money?
How much would it cost to move again? Removal costs, estate agent fees, stamp duty? Isn’t that even more of a waste of money? If we buy a bigger house, we’d also have a bigger mortgage and our monthly repayments would be a lot higher. So we’d have less disposable income to spend on doing things as a family, days out, holidays, generally making memories and saving for the future. Is that worth it?
I’m really not so sure. What do you guys think? Have you ever been in our situation? Are you obsessed with property websites too? What is the housing market like where you live?
Images c/o Purple Bricks used with permission.