Saturday 29 September 2012

Things I Learned From Buying A Flat

  1. If there’s anything else in life which you need to devote energy to, sort it out before you start the process of buying. Double if you’re buying and selling. Once the process starts, people will be calling you at any time with any question, usually whilst you’re at work, but sometimes in the evening. You’ll need your resources to sort this out. You may also like to warn your friends and family in advance that, temporarily, they are not your number one priority (unless their house burns down or something).  
  2. Other people’s advice can be useful, but remember, this is YOUR home – not theirs. If you want to buy it and you’re not sure the seller will go for a lower price, ask if you’re prepared to risk losing the property for the sake of potentially saving a few thousand.  
  3. This is not the time to be a shrinking violet. You are paying people – the solicitor, the surveyor, anyone you get in to fix the property – to do stuff for you on the biggest purchase you’ll ever make. Forget being polite and retiring and be prepared to be a pain in the bum if you need to. If all else fails, pretend you’ve turned into the most assertive person you know, and think about how they would handle it. 
  4. Where the north-east isn’t riddled with underground streams, it’s riddled with disused mines, and many properties are leasehold flats, which are complex to sell. Don’t get the cheapest solicitor, get a GOOD solicitor who knows the area. 
  5. If you’re not sure, ask, ask and ask again. If you don’t understand it, get them to explain it. If you’re not sure if the garden with the large dead yucca plant in belongs to the property you’re after, get the estate agent to find out. See point 1. 
  6. The estate agent may push you to complete the sale so that they can get their fee. Be prepared to ignore this for as long as it takes to conduct as many checks on your potential new home as you require. 
  7. Insurance, insurance, insurance. Don’t complete without it! (See aforementioned "House burning down" comment.) 
  8. Buy a large bottle of wine and keep the number for a decent takeaway handy, you’ll need it for the first night. Also keep nightclothes, bedding, toiletries, towels, tea, coffee, biscuits, loo roll and lightbulbs handy.  
  9. If people offer to help you move, accept the offer with joy, and go buy or make a big cake for them to eat whilst helping you move. Free help is great.
  10. But do think about what you'd like them to do on the day, else you'll spend Moving Day with people crowding round you going "What do we do next?"
  11. You may also like to lay in a bottle of Scotch for if either a) it all goes wrong, b) the central heating packs in - that's why the Scots invented it in the first place.

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