In the last few weeks my partner and I have been constantly on the phone to banks, solicitors and everything I'm between to secure our first home together. When you hear this is one of the most stressful time I your life, it's right!
The Aberdeen property market is very competive. We quickly learned that! It's not only expensive, it's also very fast paced. One bedroom flats would get snapped up in days, and not only that it would go for 10-20% over the asking price. In scotland anything over the asking price you, need to pay to the seller, it can't be bolted onto your mortgage.
We have seem properties go for £20k + over the six months we were looking. Adding this to the 10% you need for the deposit that equals a huge sum of money.
We've learned a lot whilst looking at places, so ill summarise this below. I hope that it sheds light onto the Aberdeen propery market for first time buyers!
Keeping in mind that I am by no means an expert! However we noticed a few things when we were looking and I thought it would be nice to pass on some titbits of info.
First off, try not to compromise too much.
This will be your home for the next X years so you’ve got to love it! It is so easy over time to keep lowering your standards, as the bids you put in are 3rd or 7th place – its disheartening for sure!
However I wouldn’t advise on bidding on a fixer upper, especially if it involves anything to do with the roof, damp and rot or the communal areas (more on this below). Simply because your first home is a big enough challenge without all the added work added to your list. Plus it’s a huge money pit. This of course depends on if you know or know someone who can do the work then go for it, but for us, we just wanted to stay clear of these problematic areas.
Don’t get pushed to put down more money
People think that just because its Aberdeen, means they can demand whatever figure they want from you (that may be the case for 1 bedroom flats as they will be the cheapest mortgage in the end of the day).
We viewed a property that was around £190k in the centre of town. Everything was really nice about it, but there were some minor problems with the roof. We felt comfortable repairing this as long as we put down less over the asking price than we would normally
However, the owner made it abundantly apparent they wanted no less than £20k over the asking price and wouldn’t budge! Now I know Aberdeen is a crazy place to buy a flat but come on! Delusional springs to mind, especially with the problems with the roof plus the communal areas were grotty too. So that was a big Feck off from us.
This was round about the time where we were getting a bit desperate, and our standards were lowering. But it did make us realise maybe we shouldn’t be compromising with these things in the first place. Funnily enough that property is still on the market, I wonder why…
Okay so you see a flat you like but something needs fixing up in the communal areas. Most of the time everyone should pitch in to fix it, however if you see somewhere where there are trouble areas in the corridors when you view the property, ask yourself why this hasn’t been fixed up before now? This tells me that maybe some of the neighbours are uncooperative or won’t pay up for various reasons.
We avoided this trouble by buying a place where a factor is in place. This means a company takes care of everything building related outside of your flat.
Property above shops
Something I certainly didn’t know when starting out is that banks are reluctant to dish out mortgages for properties above shops (this is because its more of a fire hazard or something). Getting a property above a shop lowers your chance of reselling and ultimately can prevent you from selling a flat on altogether. You’ll be tempted however as these flats can be spacious but thanks to banks are a nightmare to sell on. Shame.
Beware the phantom bidders
This one certainly was an eye opener. It came about when we were bidding on a property above shops. As I said above, we were tempted by a spacious two bedroom flat as it was gorgeous! However I was advised by my solicitor not to go ahead and bid for the reasons stated above. Yet we really loved it so we went ahead anyway. Then weird things started happening.
The one other interested party that put a note of interest put in an offer a couple hours if not minutes after us – it was as it they were waiting for it (okay, not unusual). It was a higher bid, and the company the sellers were using (who we shall call Company A) phoned us to get us to bid £10k over the asking price to beat them.
I had second thoughts at this stage after researching a little bit and found it was indeed a nightmare to sell on, so we withdrew our bid. Then the other bidder withdrew immediately. My solicitor then told me the bid came from Company A also as the person he spoke to accidentally let this information slip.
We also a mortgage advisor contact from Company A again, who after hearing that the property we were interested in was one of theirs, quickly changed their mind advising us to go ahead and bid. It could be one big coincidence but I wasn’t so sure and I don’t like to be taken for a fool.