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Help - first time buyers in London

(26 Posts)
frazzledlondoner Mon 16-Nov-15 10:32:45

Hoping for some nuggets of wisdom. DP and I are looking to buy our first place. We are tied into our current lease in our rental property until the end of April so can't actually move til then but are starting to look now. We are looking South east (Hither Green, Catford, Lee, Blackheath borders etc) for a 2 bedroom flat. Don't want to go further out (eg Bromley etc). Our first baby is due in March.

We have a mortgage agreed in principle. Offered up to 450,000 but our deposit only allows us to go to 375k absolute max as we don't want to put in less than 10%.

Is buying in London currently as bonkers as they say? I have a very cautious DP who likes to think everything through extremely carefully and I am worried if what I have read is true we will miss out on stuff because others will get in there first. Is it also true that properties go for way way above the asking price, as if that is the case there doesn't seem much point in us viewing stuff for, say, 380?

Any tips on first time buying in London very gratefully received.

IShouldBeSoLurky Mon 16-Nov-15 12:00:12

It is not nearly as bonkers as EAs would have you believe smile We recently had an offer accepted on a house in Blackheath and while there's not an awful lot around for your budget I'm sure you will find something lovely.

Your strongest point is your ability to move quickly. If necessary, could you complete before April and either take a hit on a month or two's rent after you move out, or stay in your rented flat while you do any work you need on the new place? (If you bought somewhere that was a bit of a project you could save some money too, obviously.)

Realistically even if you had an offer accepted tomorrow you wouldn't be in a position to move before about the end of February, especially with Christmas in the way, so if I were you I'd start looking and make low offers on the basis that you're able to proceed fast.

I viewed this place a while ago (actually the ground floor one, but had a nosey at the 1st floor flat too) - it's lovely and has been on the market since the beginning of October.

frazzledlondoner Mon 16-Nov-15 13:33:57

oh thank you, that gives me some hope! Yes I know Blackheath will have way less around for our budget but Catford/Hither Green etc seem to have a few places we can afford. We're not really fussy about many things other than the fact it needs to have 2 bedrooms. And we really don't want a fixer-upper smile

We could try to get out of our lease earlier (our landlord might be sympathetic) but I don't think we could really afford more than a few weeks' overlap as we live in Islington and rent is extortionate (and I'd be on maternity leave by then).

So much to navigate, feels very stressful confused

IShouldBeSoLurky Mon 16-Nov-15 14:15:50

Have a look at the place I linked to - it really is fab if you don't mind the kitchen being a bit small. The area is lovely - much nicer than Catford or HG.

redstrawberry10 Mon 16-Nov-15 14:22:54

We could try to get out of our lease earlier (our landlord might be sympathetic) but I don't think we could really afford more than a few weeks' overlap as we live in Islington and rent is extortionate (and I'd be on maternity leave by then).

don't under estimate how long it can take to complete. it can take a long time.

I would say don't worry about the timing of moving a few weeks here and there. You are making a huge financial decision, so don't complicate with what will ultimately be insignificant amounts of money (relative to your big purchase).

frazzledlondoner Mon 16-Nov-15 14:53:23

Ishould - I grew up in Catford so I'm ok with the area, but I will do smile

redstrawberry it's more about what we can afford to be honest - after the deposit and moving costs we really will have a very limited amount left for overlap! Staying later would be ok as we'd just negotiate an extra couple of months - it's more if we had to leave earlier and we still had to pay our rent while paying a mortgage. We simply couldn't afford to do that.

TreadSoftlyOnMyDreams Mon 16-Nov-15 15:33:24

I would be aggressively looking now before you are too shattered to trail half of south london on your weekends smile While the market moves fast, it is usually a minimum of 12 weeks to complete from the point at which an offer is accepted unless it's a really short chain and you can very easily make an offer which stipulates that you wish to complete say two weeks before your lease ends [enough time to get the painters and carpet cleaners in and book your removals team]. It's also good [in my experience] to have the mortgage all signed off before the baby is delivered.

As an ex first time buyer what really worked for us was to completely narrow our search to a very small area. If you get the relevant postcodes you can a) register for alerts for new properties coming online and b) figure out if there is a local estate agent with a good selection of the type of property you want. While they will all have all kinds of properties agencies like Hampton International tend to have more at the high end of the market. A good local estate agent will still give you advance warning before properties hit the window if you've built up a relationship and things should be quieter now at this time of year so you are better placed to get a bargain. Don't underestimate your buying power as first time buyers who can move quickly. We got £25k off the asking price of our first home with a cheeky offer [backed up subsequently by the survey] when the first set of buyers pulled out and the seller didn't want to lose the property he had offered on.

Don't assume you are ruled out of Blackheath and Greenwich. Charlton and Woolwich borders are also worth considering as lots of green space and the schools are good. Trust me, as soon as your baby is born you'll start checking them out. There's also a ton of mother and baby groups.

This might be worth considering. It's awkward for public transport though.

Your landlord will be flexible if there's a new tenant ready to move in and/or he/she needs to redecorate before they move in. While it is tempting to try to get it to the wire, if there are any delays it's very difficult to sofa surf for a few weeks with a small baby so be find to yourselves.

Things to consider:
Get a good survey
Its the most expensive thing [bar your child] you will ever have. Have as many viewings as you want and have a good poke around.
Have a plan B if it all falls apart - where will you move to and rent for a year for example?
Take a critical eye - where will you put a pram, how will you get it up the stairs. Is there a garden that you can put a paddling pool for a toddler in. Can you store a bike/kids bike/car seat [even if you don't have a car] ?
Is there the remotest sign of damp - you will stress about the baby
Where is the nearest school, would you send your child there.
If you are going back to work, are there lots of nurseries on the way to the station
Is the location right - is it physically practical to travel to your respective places of work and be back in time for a childcare pick up at 6....

TomHaverford Mon 16-Nov-15 15:44:08

I would consider woolwich, specifically the royal arsenal. We are moving just now. It's a fab place to live, lovely cafe/pub, fantastic doctors on site, concierge and residents gym. Crossrail will be coming soon and excellent transport links already (DLR, National rail and river bus).
Also a lovely place to have a baby! Lots of things to do.
If you move soon you should still be able to get a nice two bed for 375.

frazzledlondoner Mon 16-Nov-15 15:50:02

thank you for fab advice treads, really helpful.

tom I am a bit biased against Woolwich - an ex boyfriend lived there about five years ago and as a Londoner it was one of the only places I've been I've ever really felt properly unsafe, but perhaps the area is on the up?!

frazzledlondoner Mon 16-Nov-15 15:50:29

oh and yes we are definitely considering Charlton!

TreadSoftlyOnMyDreams Mon 16-Nov-15 15:56:39

Ditto but it looked 's a completely different place

TreadSoftlyOnMyDreams Mon 16-Nov-15 15:56:56

Gah - looked like a completely different place when I was there recently.

TreadSoftlyOnMyDreams Mon 16-Nov-15 15:58:11

Keep an eye on the streets around Sherrington Road school in Charlton. Loads of buying and selling activity there

TomHaverford Mon 16-Nov-15 16:57:51

Yeah it is a completely different place, esp in the arsenal. Everyone always comments on how it doesn't even feel like London as so quiet and green. It's really well maintained and we will be very sad to leave! Def worth a look! They have a farmers market there the first Sunday of every month I think (or Saturday- better check!) which is a lovely time to look around.

Last praise I will sing I promise- it's a fantastic investment if you are looking to move on a bit later with the crossrail etc, and the fact that people don't really consider woolwich as nice until they get there. Quite a bad rep until recently!

BananaPie Mon 16-Nov-15 18:40:28

Have you thought about schools? Crazy early given the baby isn't even born yet, but you may not want to / be able to afford to move again for primary school. Worth pinpointing schools with decent ofsteds and moving nearby. The council should publish info on recent admission distances.

SomedayMyPrinceWillCome Mon 16-Nov-15 18:42:17

Will you really be able to buy a house / move with a tiny baby? What if you go over your due date?

I'm sorry, I know this completely misses the point of your post

CityDweller Mon 16-Nov-15 18:52:44

someday why can't she move with a small baby? I just moved house with a toddler and 2wk old! Not a barrel of laughs, but doable!

SomedayMyPrinceWillCome Mon 16-Nov-15 18:54:33

City - you're a braver women than me.

Happy home hunting OP

WelshWereRabbit Mon 16-Nov-15 19:26:07

Would also recommend Charlton / Blackheath Standard area. Good local shops and transport, walking distance to Greenwich Park and outstanding primary schools.

frazzledlondoner Mon 16-Nov-15 19:35:29

Some I'm due march 1. We won't be moving til end April at the earliest. And can extend our lease if necessary.

Not got much choice anyway. I know many, many people who have moved with a newborn! I have lots and lots of family support.

frazzledlondoner Mon 16-Nov-15 19:36:42

Welsh we're viewing that place on Saturday! Just seen a couple of flats in hither green, was very impressed by the area.

TremoloGreen Tue 17-Nov-15 15:55:19

Have a look at sydenham. We sold a lovely spacious 2 bed garden flat there for 380k last year and prices haven't risen much... asking prices are higher than selling prices for sure.

Belleende Tue 17-Nov-15 16:53:13

One thing. If you go on mat leave and your wages go down, your mortgage offer might go down as well. My mortgage Co asked for my payslip every month right up to completion. Was a race against time as my bump got bigger!

frazzledlondoner Tue 17-Nov-15 22:01:15

Belle that's very worrying!! Luckily I get full pay for 18 weeks before stat pay so should be ok just about...

PettsWoodParadise Tue 17-Nov-15 23:04:23

Just a plug for the outer suburbs. They aren't as scary as some think and I have colleagues who are closer in that I am but their Commute is longer due to where they live. For your budget you could get a 3 bed semi with a garden in zone 5, in a nice area with great schools. I also have ten trains an hour during the peak to four London termini so good options too should job change and you don't really want to move.

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