After looking at several properties, me and my partner found our dream first home in November 2019. It should have been a really simple sale, as we are first time buyers and the chain was already finalised, but the whole process turned into a bit of a nightmare! We finally completed on the house after 5 months in April 2020, but it was not without a lot of drama.
It is not uncommon for house sales to be very complicated and have lots of stops and starts in the process, but I am sharing my experience with buying a house as it was a particularly wild journey – from one major health crisis to another.
Problem One: The Survey
When we first made an offer, we had tried to knock down the price as we suspected there were a couple of costly issues with the house. Our first offer was rejected because they claimed that they had already dealt with it, and the estate agent confirmed this.
However, after we got a full survey done on the house, we soon discovered that our concerns were valid, as there were a number of issues that would be costly to fix. This was really scary for us, and for a while we thought we would have to say goodbye to the dream house. A full house survey is like an absolute worst-case scenario booklet of doom and reading it will make it seem like the house will fall down around you in seconds.
We were pretty set on it though, so we ended up in a bit of a battle with the estate agents and sellers to get some of the issues fixed. There was a lot of miscommunication from the estate agent, and ultimately a lot of the problems are still unresolved; however, we are happy enough with the house.
Problem 2: Christmas
Winter is meant to be a really quiet time of year for house sales, but unfortunately that does not mean that things happen quickly. Because we were at the point of sorting out our mortgage, surveys and solicitors by December, it meant that a lot of things got put on hold due to Christmas.
The solicitors were shut for a fair amount of time over the Christmas period and it really put a halt on the whole process. The solicitors are responsible for doing all the relevant searches for the house, and dealing with a lot of important paperwork, all of which takes weeks ordinarily, let alone with extra time on top!
Problem 3: Someone in the Chain Had a Stroke
We were just about to set a date for completion when someone at the top of our chain unfortunately suffered from a stroke. Because of this, they needed to change the house they were buying to better suit their healthcare needs. We had to postpone completion for at least a month, with a date set in March, to ensure they had the time they needed to recover a little and have work done on their property.
It’s hard to be frustrated when someone has suffered a healthcare emergency, but it was still a little difficult to have to put our move on hold when we had already committed to packing up our belongings and getting things in place to move.
Problem 4: Coronavirus
A problem affecting pretty much everyone in the world, Coronavirus had a pretty big impact on our house move. We were meant to be moving in March, but the lockdown had just been imposed and it was not established whether moving to a new house was considered an ‘essential’.
We were going to attempt completion anyway, but our house would have to remain empty for a while as we were unable to book any removal or delivery people to help with moving furniture.
There is also a lot of paperwork involved in moving home, and with the solicitor’s office working at a reduced capacity, it became increasingly difficult to get things sorted quickly.
When the government finally announced that it was ok to complete on a house purchase and move, we were set until…
Problem 5: A Second Stroke
We discovered that the day before completion the person at the top of the chain who had suffered a stroke had unfortunately had another, and they would be unable to complete. The seller’s solicitors had been furloughed due to Coronavirus and had not informed our solicitors that the second stroke had happened.
Because it was such short notice, we did not have time to redo a contract. We were worried as we had already exchanged contracts and were legally bound to complete the following day, but the solicitors thankfully managed to postpone our completion for a couple more weeks.
Problem 6: Completion Day
On the day of the new completion date, everyone still seemed unsure as to whether completion was going to take place. When you buy a house with a mortgage, the mortgage company is meant to send the money the day before completion, so it is definitely all ready to go on the day.
However, the day before our completion date was a bank holiday, and the bank had not transferred over the money for our seller’s new house on time. This meant that they had no where to move to if we managed to complete on our contract.
We would have been happy to renegotiate our contract, but the solicitors were unable to do that and forced us to complete the purchase on that day. Our poor sellers had to leave without a house to go to, which I imagine was particularly difficult considering the COVID-19 situation!
We officially owned the house by 3pm on the day of completion.
Problem 7: My Name is Spelled Wrong
Despite being right on all of the paperwork I submitted, the solicitors somehow managed to get the spelling of my name completely wrong on a number of really important documents, including the deeds to the house and the land registry forms!
It is pretty essential to have all your details correct on the documents for the house, so this is a big deal and it still an ongoing problem I’m trying to get fixed at the minute. I’m not talking about a simple mix-up either. My entire surname has been omitted, and there are letters mixed up and missing from my middle names! It is a bit of a nightmare, as this has been submitted to places like my local council too, so all the letters I’m getting are addressed to the wrong name!
Problem 8: We Are Unable to Move In Yet
While I’m relieved to have finally got things sorted with purchasing the house, at time of writing we are still unable to properly move in due to COVID-19 restricting the ability to move our furniture. We’ve been able to take over things like books and DVDs that we’re not using at the moment, but we won’t be able to get our bed or sofa delivered for a while yet.
Fingers crossed all will be sorted soon and I can start making this house a proper home!
If you’ve had any trouble with buying or selling a house I’d love to hear about your experience, so leave me a comment below!