I had a plan. A plan that seems to resonate with most 14-year-olds. A plan that, let’s face it, was utterly ridiculous giving my inability to save, but nonetheless, this plan involved buying a house, getting married and spawning a human by the time I was 30. Fast forward to 23 year-old me and I would have laughed in your face whilst sobbing into my bank balance if you’d said I’d be in my current situation.
I’m 29 and we own a flat.
Now this is great and all, but let me tell you this – buying isn’t fun. There’s a whole bundle of stuff that people magically forget to tell you and you’re often left questioning your intelligence.
Note: This sounds stupid but I’m clearly not a property expert or solicitor. This is my experience of buying a home in Scotland and shouldn’t be taken as gospel. Capeesh? Cool.
An eejit’s guide to buying your first house in Scotland
1. Use one of those ISAs the Government is ranting and raving about
Sure they’re not great and you can’t *actually* use it towards the deposit but you can essentially get free cash to put towards your mortgage. In a nutshell, they add a 25% bonus on what you save (there’s a cap, obvs) but I’m talking an additional £3,000 with a Help to Buy ISA or up to £32,000 (open at 18 and it’ll max out when you hit 50) with the new Lifetime ISA.
2. That deposit you’ve saved up probably isn’t enough
You’ve saved and saved and saved some more and you’re finally ready to run at the best house you can find with all that cash only to get your soul crushed by the fact you probably need more. You’ll need a chunk of cash for solicitor’s fees (I’ll get onto that in a minute), factor fees (if you’re in a newer property), double mortgage payment for the first month and, if you’re like us, you’ve probably come from a fully furnished place so you’re going to need to buy some things to sit on unless you excel at making box forts.
3. Estate agents never answer their damn phones
You want to look at one of their flats they’ve got listed, but will they reply to any of their emails or pick up their stupid phone? No they won’t. Keep trying until you get through to them.
4. Pictures lie
Don’t presume the place is going to look just like it does in the guide. If the place you’re going to view has been on the market for some time, it probably looks a lot different now.
We went to view a place that had been on the market for a year and happened to have two students living in it. The place was destroyed and everything needed to be ripped out. Basically don’t get your hopes up until you’ve seen the place in person.
5. Get the Home Report
Yes they’re around 52 pages and yes they’re not exactly exciting to read, but they have all the details in there that estate agents don’t tend to tell you. This was one of the main factors of us going with one flat over another because the windows were damaged, but they kept that little nugget to themselves.
6. MAKE SURE YOU DON’T HAVE STUPID NAMES FOR EACH OTHER ON YOUR DAMN PHONE
Those names pull through into emails if you have it saved to that contact. Emailing your mortgage adviser AND solicitor CCing in ‘Fuckchops‘ is one way to make a memorable impression…
7. If you’re going to a mortgage adviser, you need a solicitor too
This sounds obvious, I know, but I’d seen it a lot on forums that people presumed they were the same thing. You don’t need a mortgage adviser (if you’re confident enough you can easily approach banks yourself) but most of them are free and only take their cut directly from the bank. We used First Mortgage and they were super nice.
8. Solicitor’s fees are terrifying
First thing – don’t try to find a solicitor until you have a rough idea of what you’ll be spending.
It’s probably not wise to go for the cheapest person you can find because you will get what you pay for. The cheaper ones probably have a lot more clients so you’ll struggle to get their time and during one of the most stressful events of your life, it’s probably best that you can actually get in touch with the buggers.
But, before all of that, ask around. Ask your colleagues, friends, family, anyone who’ll listen to you about their recommendations. We scouted around for a while before settling with a solicitors who’d been recommend around three times and asked for a face to face meeting so we could get a feel for them. Also ask for an itemised list of costs – yes they do charge for scanning.
9. Stamp duty
Once you’ve got your list of costs from your solicitors, you’ll notice something hefty on there called Land Tax. That is your estimated Stamp Duty for the place you’re buying and it’s included in the cost of the solicitors. We freaked out when we got out fees though because no one had made that clear and we presumed we’d need to fork out more cash to cover it.
10. Offers over are pretty much the bottom line
In most cases that’s the least they’ll accept unless they’re desperate to sell. Check the valuation in the Home Report – that’ll be what they’re wanting if not more. You also can’t put in an offer on a flat without a solicitor (unless they’re doing it through one of those fancy all online places) so make sure you have one in place before you get this far.
11. Don’t let it get you down
Your first offer will probably get rejected. You might not even stand a chance, but try not to let it bug you too much. That place clearly wasn’t for you and you’ll find something that’s perfect eventually. Promise.
12. You’ll need to print off your life
Once your offer has been accepted (good job), you’ll need start wasting a lot of paper. This will differ, but you’ll need:
- Proof of where your cash came from so statements of your savings, letters from your work etc.
- Two forms of ID
- Two utility bills with your name(s) on them but these can’t be printed by you. They need to come from the companies.
- Bank statements from the past 3 months
- Three P60s
- Info about any credit you have
- And probably your soul.
None of this is fun. You’ll have sleepless nights and you’ll argue with people for no reason but I promise you it’s all worth it. It’s nice to sleep in a bed that’s finally yours and paint every damn wall you can see.