What I Own: Liz, who put down a £45,000 deposit on her house in Kent
Welcome back to What I Own, our weekly series where we chat to homeowners about their buying process.
Last week we were up north speaking to Kasia in Warrington, but this week we are heading down south.
We’re talking to Liz, who moved into her Kent semi-detached house five years ago and posts updates over on her Instagram page @prettyprospectcottage.
This is what she had to say about getting on the property ladder…
Tell us a bit about yourself, Liz.
I’m 35 and, after working for eleven years in an accessories design agency, I’ve branched out on my own and have recently launched an interior design and home staging business called The Harmonised Home.
Whereabouts is your property?
We live in Sidcup in Kent – close to my husband’s family. It’s a lovely area with lots of amenities and a lovely community feel.
When did you move in?
We moved here in June 2016.
How much does your property cost?
We bought our house for £414,000.
How much was your deposit?
Our deposit was £45,000.
What is the monthly cost of living here now; both mortgage and bills?
Our mortgage and bills come to close to £2000 a month.
How did you save up for your deposit?
We scrimped, saved, begged and borrowed all we could – the rents were getting so high for ridiculously small spaces. We did stretch ourselves to get a house as our first property, rather than opting for a flat, as we thought it better to not have to fork out on stamp duties and fees twice in a short period. We knew we wouldn’t have stayed in a flat for long.
What was the process of getting a mortgage like for you?
It was a true rollercoaster ride, one minute we thought we had all we needed the next our financial advisor told us he’d made a mistake and we had to rework all of the figures and money we had to make it work out again.
Where did you live before this – were you renting or living with family?
We were renting in the same area and our contract was soon up for renewal (which always meant the rent was going to increase).
What made you want to buy rather than renting?
The monthly cost of rent on a small two-bedroom flat without a garden was more than the mortgage payment on a four-bedroom house. We knew that if we could manage to get a deposit together, that buying a house and taking out a mortgage to get the bigger space just made more sense.
How did you find this property?
We hunted and hunted for the right place, I think because we were coming from a small rental flat to looking round houses we had started to make compromises in our mind and offer on places that just weren’t right for us. Luckily we didn’t get those houses.
We saw this one pop up online and made an appointment to come along for the open day. When we walked in the estate agent told us the price was more than what it stated online so that threw us, as it was already at the very top of our agreed mortgage in principle. The house was an absolute dream, the rooms were bright and airy, there was a lovely spacious garden and it had so much potential for us to make it our home.
That night I wrote a little card to the current homeowner, telling him how much we loved the house and how perfect it would be for our family. I told him we were going to offer every penny that we had in hope it would be enough and I included my mobile number.
A couple of days later he text me to say thank you for the card and that he had had the offers in, most of which were 10k or more over ours and that, basically, we had no hope.
I just couldn’t let it go, I text him straight back to see if there was any room for negotiation, I knew we couldn’t stretch to an extra £10,000 but we might have been able to scrape two or three together by the time it was all going through. After a few days of speaking and negotiating we managed to work out a deal, and by some miracle he accepted our offer.
I don’t know what swung it, I think making ourselves real people, a real family, in his eyes rather than just being another number in a list of numbers made us stand out for him. It’s definitely something that I would do again and I advise my friends to do it, too.
What’s the inspiration for your interior decor style?
I get inspiration from everywhere – from the places we’ve travelled to, to Instagram, Pinterest and other people’s homes. I love the traditional details mixed with more modern features.
What’s your favourite room and why?
My favourite room(s) is the lounge/diner. I recently finished decorating this space, I’ve added back a lot of original details, panelling and ceiling roses and I completely refurbished the 100-year-old floor. The room is beautifully bright while still being a relaxing and cosy space. I’ve learned a lot of new skills along the way.
Do you feel like you have enough space?
Even though this is a large property for a family of just three, I come from a large family of twelve, so when we have guests it starts to feel small, I’d love to have more of an open plan entertaining kitchen, as I love to cook for my family and friends.
Do you have plans to change the property?
Somewhere down the line, I would like to add an extension as this would help the functionality of the house. I would add a utility room, and make the kitchen a larger kitchen-diner more suited to entertaining.
Have there any problems with the property that you’ve had to deal with?
When we first moved in, the survey had thrown up a few things that we knew would need sorting out first. As this property is Edwardian we had a survey done on the drains as well and that showed some issues, so that, as well as a precarious chimney stack and a random boarded over window, were the first major things we did. It’s been a learning curve and you soon realise that making small changes can lead to bigger problems in a house where the walls are wonky and crumbling.
What do you want people to know about buying a home?
I think my best advice would always be don’t just accept that if you make an offer you’re just going to be a number on a piece of paper/email. Make yourself stand out from the crowd in some way and if you can get a direct line of contact with the seller it really helps. This will also help when you’re going through with the purchase as you can check in with them during the process and you can work together to speed things through rather than dealing with lots of people in the middle.
What are your plans for the future, in terms of housing?
The dream would be to stay here and eek out all of what this house has to offer. The interior designer in me would love to purchase more properties in the future to transform into beautiful homes for other people.
Shall we take a look around?
We’re looking for people to feature in What I Own:
What I Own is a Metro.co.uk series that takes you inside people’s properties, to take an honest look at what it’s like to buy a home in the UK. If you own your home and would be up for sharing your story, please email [email protected]
You’ll also need to be okay with sharing how much you’ve paid to live there and how you afforded the deposit, as that’s pretty important.
If you’re renting, you can take part too! What I Own runs alongside What I Rent, which is the same series but all about renting. Again, if you’d like to get involved just email [email protected]
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