How we bought a flat in London

I was told yesterday, out of love (I think), that no one wanted to see another post on armchairs and I realised (reluctantly) that this was probably true, I was forcing my current obsession onto others. Then I thought I should share my search for bathroom taps and I had an epiphany, no one wants that, especially not Mr. Brown. He is so over taps.

I wracked my brains about what to write and realised that I hadn’t explained how we actually managed to buy a flat. I’ve talked about our struggles but not our success. So, here it is, how we managed to buy a flat in London’s crazy market.

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We’d lost out, yet again, on a gorgeous two bed in Catford. I wasn’t sold on Catford but the flat was so beautiful and the area is getting re-developed, so it would have been a good investment. By this point, I think it was early June, we were pretty dejected, I genuinely believed we would never, ever, get a flat; that the market had moved beyond our financial reach (unless we wanted to live in a studio but our relationship just wouldn’t survive us living under a pile of my clothes). We spent a couple of weeks searching for something but nothing appealed and then we got a phone call from an estate agent. A flat we’d looked at back in February was back on the market because the buyer had pulled out. The owner was looking for a quick sale because he was selling his house as two flats and wanted to complete on both at the same time. I immediately put in an offer of the asking price and clearly explained our strong position – we had a mortgage in principal, our deposit in place, we were staying with family so we weren’t tied into rent or a chain. Not long after I had a phone call saying our offer was accepted. We were so excited because this was the road we had wanted to live on all along and it’s close to Beckenham, which is such a lovely town.

You see, in some situations people actually take note of you being an attractive buyer, it’s worth getting yourself in order so that you’re ahead of the curve. The owner could have had more viewings and sold it for the same price as he had offered before but he wanted speed above everything else. This also meant that we got it for lower than our original offer, honestly, it’s incredible. I don’t know how we got so lucky. I was having this conversation with a friend the other day. Neither of us believe in fate and yet when you talk in terms of buying a home everyone will tell you that you didn’t get it because of fate or that fate will give you the property that you’re destined to be with. It’s bizarre and yet… getting this flat felt like fate.

Having our offer accepted didn’t make it plain sailing though, oh no, the owner saw to that. We had to go and meet him and listened to him for two hours telling us how we had to move fast, without letting us explain our situation. Mr. Brown had to be quite forceful for us to get a word in. Then our lender was dealing with a backlog and so there was a delay in the underwriting for our mortgage and the seller panicked and told us he was going to pull out if we didn’t have our offer by a certain date. If it wasn’t for our incredible mortgage broker pestering our lender we may never have exchanged. At every hiccough the owner would threaten to pull out, it was a nightmare but we didn’t get angry (well, not that he knew anyway), we were very accommodating because we didn’t want to lose the property and it paid off. Patience is key, even when you want to scream at someone.

I guess the only advice I have is perseverance, get your sh*t together and in London, look for property that’s about 10-20% below your max. I hear the market may change with mortgage companies stress testing people so it may get easier to buy but harder to get a mortgage. It just doesn’t get better does it?

I guess you want to see the little beauty? Well, think of her as an ugly duckling who has some health issues. Here’s her beautiful frontage. I know, what’s with the cladding? *sigh*.  All that beautiful Edwardian brickwork hidden *double sigh*.

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Firstly, we knew there was damp, the owner had two walls treated before we moved in and our survey pulled up more areas that needed treating. Fortunately the previous owner had insurance, although he refused to accept that the flat had anymore damp *sigh*. Anyway. we’re having the rest of the walls treated next month so it’s fine. Always get a survey done. A property which we put an offer in on had Japanese Knotweed – aka the house eater. Without a survey the buyers wouldn’t have realised, it saved them a fortune.

The photos below are all from the estate agent. I should take some more for ‘before’.

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Living Room. Originally we were going to build an extension and have this as a bedroom but after a lot of thought we didn’t think it would be worth it financially and it will be really expensive to do. Instead we’re re-configuring (see floorplan later on). It has really high ceilings and with some love the fireplace will be glorious.

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This was the dining room but will be our kitchen. The chimney breast is going, along with some of the many doors. There are so many doors in the flat and the hinges were all painted over *sigh*.

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This kitchen of sorts is going to be the second bedroom.

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The bathroom is getting a new everything. Look at those exposed pipes.

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This is the master bedroom. The cupboard you can see is the boiler. Why? I don’t know, I really don’t know. It’s re-locating. We’re moving the bathroom wall slightly and having doors into the garden to make it extra special, I’m going to do a post at some point on how I managed to plan out the bedroom.

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See that tree at the back? Our survey said the roots were damaging the house, the owner refused to accept this. I’ll have to take a photo but when you lift up the foliage around it there is a MASSIVE root heading straight for the house and you can see the path of destruction in the paving. *sigh* Needless to say we’ve already had it chopped down. Wow, that made me sound evil but it had to go. We’re going to do some tidying up to make the garden look as big as it is as the current arrangement doesn’t do it justice.

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As you can see it makes sense to move the kitchen to the dining room and have the kitchen as a second bedroom. It seems like an easy fix on paper but as soon as we started stripping hoards of wallpaper we started coming across so many other things that need doing because everything had been done as a quick fix. Please don’t do quick fixes in your home, you will pay for it later.

So, that’s our little home, she needs a lot of work. We’re really not looking forward to sanding the floors but seeing as most of the walls need damp treatment there’s no need to strip anymore wallpaper (HURRAH) but I’ll do a wallpaper removal post soon as we’ve had quite a lot of experience, unfortunately.

4 thoughts on “How we bought a flat in London

  1. Yay I absolutely love it and can’t wait to see it in real life! You are ao lucky as looks promising to be the most perfect first home… Love your plan for moving the kitchen and bedroom, so happy for you and Mr Brown, good things do obviously happen to good people (eventually!) xXx

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