Eldest Daughter and Boyfriend have just stepped onto the housing ladder, my thoughts return to when we took our first step onto the same ladder, and off again, on and off, on and off, what rollercoaster ride it was.
We were very late onto the ladder ourselves, living in rented property until the girls were well into their school years. During our years as tenants we moved about here and there, often swapping houses with other tenants, moving the contents of a whole three-bedroomed house from top to bottom on just one day.
This time we were unable to swap or transfer to the area we wanted to be living in so we looked into the option of buying our own house.
The first upward move on our roller coaster ride was when we found that our landlord, a housing association, had set up a scheme to pay tenants to move out and free up a house for a new tenant. Our timing wasn’t good, and by the time we actually found out about this scheme, we only had a matter of about two months to complete the purchase.
Bearing in mind that out financial situation wasn’t good, we searched out, and found a house, and organised a mortgage and all in the very limited time allowing. Then as we were about to go ahead, the housing association moved the goal posts. The house we were about to buy was on the market because the owner had been renting it out and no longer wanted to be a landlord, but the housing association said that because the tenant was being moved on, (albeit to another property which was already arranged) they wouldn’t pay the incentive we had been offered to vacate our rented house and so the move was all off.
Well, as my Nana used to say “You can do anything you want if you set your mind to it, you just have to want it badly enough.” It wasn’t that I wanted this particular house so much as I wanted to move out of Milton Keynes, I’m sure to many people it’s a wonderful place to live, but to me, for many reasons I really wanted to move.
We’d sunk our meagre savings into this house, setting everything up as far as we could and now the rug had been pulled from under us. If we didn’t get this house, I really believed we would have been stuck in Milton Keynes for ever and as much as I’m really quite a mousey person, I can be very much more if I really put my mind to it. If I remember rightly, we were to use the incentive from the housing association as our deposit and we had almost no savings, so my next step was to contact our mortgage advisor who somehow managed to find us a 100% mortgage, and the sale was on again.
Hubby had already transferred his job and was commuting for the best part of 45 minutes each way to work and back, I arranged a transfer from our local store to one within walking distance of our new house and put in our offer for the house. Since there weren’t any of the housing programs on tv to advise us, I didn’t know any better and offered the full asking price, which was instantly accepted with a promise to take the house off of the market so no one would offer more. Next we waited for our mortgage people to dot a couple of I’s and cross a few T’s and here’s where the rollercoaster took another dip.
Our mortgage provider decided to value the house at less than the asking price which meant they offered us a mortgage for their value and it was short of the amount we needed, slamming our hopes again.
I spent a very tearful night and even though Hubby advised me to just let it go and cut our losses, I wasn’t ready to give up yet. The following day I phoned the mortgage people. I wanted to know why they’d valued the house at lower than the asking price. The man on the phone was very polite, quite taken aback I think by the little female voice questioning his actions. He very clearly explained that the was situated on quite a busy road, especially so at school times where the traffic could become quite congested. It also sat on a bus route so would be disturbed by regular heavy traffic passing throughout the day and until the wee hours of the morning. He also explained that the local shops were close enough to cause parking congestion and that the public house on the corner might be the cause of unsavoury behaviour during opening hours.
I let him finish, then had my say. I explained that I had three children of school age who at the time were travelling to and from school on public transport so the school being so near to the house was one of the main reasons we had chosen it, that I didn’t drive so the bus stop outside my house would be perfect for shopping trips in either direction. Again since I didn’t drive, the local shops were in a perfect location, and lastly, with the public house so near on the next corner, I would never have to wonder where my husband was. I asked him to take into account this new information, and to go away and value the house again. Would you believe he actually did – and came back with the value matching the offer I had made at the asking price. The move was on again.
This next rise of the rollercoaster was very short-lived, the mortgage advisor contacted us with the information that the calculations of our repayment hadn’t taken into account a loan we had for a car at the time. We would have to find another mortgage deal and set it all up again, with another charge for setting everything up again. Whoosh ! straight down we went again, but this time I put the brakes on the fall. I insisted that since we had given all of the car loan details to the mortgage advisor it was their mistake and so they should pay the new fees. To my surprise, they did, and we were soon all set up with all systems ready to go.
There was a slight hiccup at the visit to the solicitors to sign the final papers. It would appear that our mortgage was 100% with a cash-back incentive. You have to remember that at that time the banks were throwing money around like there was no tomorrow, but as our savings had all gone and we were now running in the red, when the solicitor told us that our cash-back came at the end of the deal, and the solicitor fees has to be paid at the beginning we were stumped. We ended up robbing Peter to pay Paul, and then using the cash-back to quickly pay Peter back before he noticed.
The solicitor had a long list of fixtures and fittings which were or were not included in the sale, the carpets were not and we were asked to pay extra if we would like them to be left for us. To be perfectly honest even if we had wanted to pay for the carpets we couldn’t, so we politely refused the sale but added that if they had no use for the carpets and to save them the trouble of taking them away they were more than welcome to leave them behind. I was actually astonished to hear that they had paid someone to come in and remove the carpets to take them to the tip.
We set our completion date to coincide with the last payment of rent to our landlord so that we only had one month to find both rent and mortgage payment and left it to the solicitor to finalize the last of the paperwork.
After a week or so of not hearing anything I phoned to check everything was going according to plan only to be told the keys were there waiting for us, the exchange of contracts had been made and the house was ours. As much as it was finally good news to hear that the house was ours, this was a disaster for our finances. They’d exchanged two weeks early which meant we didn’t have enough money in the bank to cover both rent and mortgage.
One last time I dug my heels in, I sent the solicitor off to look in his notes and there he found that we had actually said at our meeting that we had a delayed completion date to allow us to pay the rent. It was too late for him to do anything about the date, he’d completed ahead of schedule and so the only thing left for him to do was to pay up. They paid the first months mortgage for us.
So with three excited girls I caught the bus from Milton Keynes after school, and we set off to collect the keys to our new house. We picnicked with pie and chips in the one upstairs bedroom with a carpet and waited for Hubby to join us on his way home from work.