Buying your first house is a bittersweet combination of seeing your ambitions of owning property become a reality and watching all your hard-earned cash exit your bank account in one fell swoop.
Like many first-time buyers, my fiancé and I were keen to do everything right and so set about doing our research and speaking to friends and colleagues who had been through the process before.
Having the mortgage in principle agreed was a relief in itself and with a solicitor engaged, it seemed like we had cleared the first hurdles. We were feeling pretty confident.
We pinpointed our dream property in January but in spite of our offer being accepted in a matter of hours, the rest of the process wasn’t without the odd glitch.
The result of our three-hour mortgage meeting was that the bank’s computer system crashed, losing all the forms we had painstakingly filled out with the adviser over a rather clever Skype-style set up; we were in Edinburgh and he was nearly 500 miles away in Bournemouth.
“That does happen sometimes” he told us, which didn’t have the desired effect of reassuring us about our choice of lender.
Technical glitch aside, they offered a competitive rate and had promised we’d get £500 back on completion of the purchase, which counts when you’ve just signed away 29 of your good years to pay back a substantial loan.
I decided that my role in actually sealing the deal would be more about offering occasional support than actually dipping my toe in the world of negotiations.
I was convinced my creative talents would be best suited to interior design, while my colour blind but business-savvy other half dealt with the legal side of things.
It wasn’t long before I realised that I would be required to do a little more than wander the paint aisles in Homebase in search of the perfect duck egg blue and so set about contemplating the big decisions like whether to fork out for a full survey, or would the Home Report suffice.
Processing the mounds of paperwork required patience and naturally we were champing at the bit, eager to move in and make our mark on our new purchase.
Writing our wills was a wake-up call. It felt like rather a macabre task for a pair of twenty-somethings but it’s a good idea to be prepared.
We threw in a couple of powers of attorney just to be on the safe side.
Hidden costs, it seems, is a recurring theme of the house-buying process.
Just when you think your carefully drawn up spreadsheet covers everything, you are reminded of something else that needs to be insured; it’s no longer just contents but also the building and even your life.
We ordered furniture in good time. It’s the small things you take for granted in a rental property that you suddenly realise you don’t actually own. Like cutlery or a kitchen bin.
The lack of smaller utensils was a challenge easily fixed. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for the bulkier items of furniture.
The sofas take eight to ten weeks to deliver, the salesman told us in February. We had won his undivided attention as soon as we walked into the shop and announced we were there to furnish an entire flat.
It’s nearly June and we’re still sitting on the floor.