I started looking at properties in local newspapers and on portals such as Rightmove and OnTheMarket at the beginning of the year. I knew I wasn’t quite ready to buy, but I felt that it was important to start to get a feel for local prices and find out what I was realistically going to be able afford both to buy and maintain. I signed up to a couple of local estate agents in Fitzrovia, which was the area I was looking in.
My initial searches did not return much and I soon went back to the drawing board to have a think. I realised that my criteria was too precise. Firstly, I had only signed up to a couple of estate agents in Fitzrovia which is such a small area. I soon realised that to maximise the number of properties being sent to me, I had to sign up to estate agents in surrounding areas such as W1 and Covent Garden. I also started to understand the difference between asking price, and achieved price! I had set my search budget at the maximum I wanted to pay, as opposed to slightly over, with a view to actually purchasing the property at a lower price.
Once I had increased the number of estate agents I was subscribed to, along with my budget, I started to get lots of emails with a larger and better variety of properties. It was at this point, that I wanted to start going out and taking a look at the properties.
I shortlisted a selection of apartments, making sure that the list contained properties that I simply liked the look of, ‘sensible’ properties (i.e. good price, good location but without the ‘wow’ factor) and properties that were really over my budget. I wanted to see things that had varying pro’s and con’s to see whether I could love a sensible property or whether the over budget properties really were worth the money / wait to move. I met with a string of different estate agents in Fitzrovia, W1 and Covent Garden and viewed a total of 25 properties.
Funnily enough, I had seriously considered offering on a couple of properties when I viewed an apartment that I fell in love with. It was originally in my ‘sensible’ category and if I am honest I was not particularly excited to take a look around. I hate to sound cliché but it was a case of love at first sight. I immediately felt at home in the property and from the moment I walked through the door, I was already visualising my things in the flat. It was in desperate need of a lick of paint, and a bit of TLC but liveable. When I had initially begun looking, I had visions of taking on an absolute wreck of a property and making my fortune doing it up. However, I soon realised that it was going to be rather impossible to work full time and then come home and continue working on a property.
Offer and negotiation
I took some guidance from estate agents in Fitzrovia and W1 on making an offer on a property. They all suggested that I should offer low which would leave room in my budget for a counter offer and further negotiations. I did just that and then when a counter offer was put forward, I accepted it and the deal was done! The negotiation for my property was really simple, although I know that this is not always the case so it’s a must to keep your wits about you.
Memorandum of Sale and Exchange
The memorandum of sale was the important bit to get signed after having had the offer accepted. The estate agents in W1 sent me over both an electronic copy via email, and a hard copy which I was instructed to sign and return, along with my solicitor’s details. I was lucky enough to have been recommended a solicitor by chartered surveyors in Fitzrovia and so it didn’t take long to complete the memorandum. However, I took my time to read everything through and seek help for anything I wasn’t sure about.
At this point I also discussed with the vendor, the estate agents in Covent Garden and my solicitor when we could all expect to exchange. Once we had agreed a date and my solicitor had completed the searches etc., we exchanged contracts and everything went quite quiet! It was a bit unnerving at first as I thought I should be doing something, however I was reassured by the estate agents in W1 that between exchange and completion, there isn’t a lot to do apart from get ready for the move!
Our completion date was a couple of months later and when the day finally arrived I was so excited. I was called by the estate agents in Covent Garden who confirmed that they had received the paperwork and were ready to hand me the keys to my new property. I met up with the vendor and the estate agents in Covent Garden, just to double check everything over and once they left, the property was mine!