I was in a very privileged position at the age of 21 when my parents were able to buy me my first home. A lovely, 2-bedroom flat near central Manchester which I absolutely treasured.
In 2010, after 4 years in my home, I made the decision to move to Birmingham and my flat had been rented out until June this year. With property prices not really moving and with increasing burdens on landlords, it made sense to sell the flat and with the money I got from it, it’s a good sum towards a deposit on something else – when I finally decide where I want to be living (I love being in the city centre but it would also be nice to have a garden….or at least a balcony!)
When I first started the process of selling the flat, I emailed my mum to say that I had no idea about any of this. Mum’s response was “now you can learn”.
So I did, and I’m going to share with you all a handful of the things I learnt about selling a property….
- it costs loads of money – there are fees and other costs at every turn and they add up quickly. We made a spreadsheet at the start of the sale process with things such as estate agent fees and legal conveyancing costs but then kept it updated with any stray costs that popped up along the way. I hadn’t thought initially about the cost of sending thick envelopes of signed forms by recorded delivery nor the £8.75 to get ID certified at the Post Office (and with 3 owners, a lot of these costs were multiplied by 3). All of these add up quickly and will cut into your final balance.
- tenants can be rubbish – the tenants we had in the property were extremely uncooperative about allowing viewings which meant the property was on the market a good few months longer than it should have been. In the end, we served notice on them, allowing us more flexibility with entering the property to show potential buyers. And sure enough, after a difficult 5 months, we received a suitable offer within 2 weeks. The tenants then decided they didn’t want to move out until it suited them, which in the end was a week before we completed but nearly 3 weeks after they should have been out. When the check-out inspector sent us the check-out report, I was utterly horrified to see the state of the property and the level of damage (the sofa was missing an entire seat cushion and just had some throw cushions sitting on top of the sofa-bed frame underneath). It’s worth noting that the tenants were a young, married couple…It certainly opened my eyes to the way in which some people choose to live, and frankly it’s disgusting.
- there is so much paperwork – hugely grateful to Mum who filled out a lot of the paperwork but I couldn’t believe how much there was to do. With a leasehold flat, there’s additional forms too. I signed my name so many times that it stopped looking normal.
- agents are just out to get their fee – we dealt with a number of different people at the estate agents who had been managing and then sold our property and all but 1 of them were completely rubbish. They never replied with information when they said they would; they didn’t return phone calls; they didn’t keep us updated on the sale from their side; they weren’t great at sorting the issues with the tenants. Ultimately, they get their fee regardless but they obviously don’t care about the service they provide. Be prepared to constantly be chasing for updates.
- things move really slowly, until they don’t – I can safely say that I’m glad I wasn’t in a chain whereby I was selling a property to buy another. The added stress of a house move would have sent me over the edge. With the issues with the tenants and just the standard time it takes to go through the sales process, everything felt as if it was taking forever. Then, quite suddenly, we were told the buyer wanted to exchange and complete on the same day, which was in 3 business days’ time, but that a lot of the paperwork needed changing and re-doing as he was now buying under a business name and not as an individual. So after 7 months of waiting, it went full steam ahead in a couple of manic days and then it was done.
Without the support of my parents, I’d have been totally clueless. As independent as I am, and have been for a long time, there are still times that being an adult has me baffled!
Things to do with my car are another area I come unstuck with. Are there any ‘grown up’ responsibilities which still make you feel like a clueless child?