Thursday, 25 July 2013

The search continues (reflections on weeks 2&3)...

Image via

The searching for my first home has continued over the past few weeks (apart from last week when I was away on a residential study programme). I've now viewed six different properties - three purpose built and three conversions. I've submitted two offers, but both have been rejected and neither of the properties were good enough for me to submit a higher offer. It is all a matter of compromise, but there comes a point where you are really considering a compromise too far.

Fortunately, I don't need to rush this search, but nor do I want to still be flat searching at Christmas. I am embarking on another travel fellowship in October, so am hoping to have found somewhere and successfully submitted an offer by the time I leave...that leaves me another two months. Surely that will be enough time?

I'm having a weekend off viewing this week. My friend L is arriving from Nairobi this morning, so instead I am looking forward to a weekend of chatting, laughing, coffee, Portobello Rd, sunshine, and wherever else our travels take us.

That said, I do have a viewing lined up for next weekend which looks very positive on paper. L will still be with me in London so it will be nice to be able to take someone along for a second we shall see what eventuates.

And in other news, after a wait of six years, London is putting on a beautiful summer ... And I'm hoping it may continue for a few weeks yet (though it is at times like these that I do really miss having an air-conditioned car!)


Wednesday, 17 July 2013


I adore peonies. They were late appearing in the shops this year due to the cold spring temperature. When they did appear, they were a little more costly than my home-purchase budget allowed.

However, I popped into Waitrose two weeks ago after a flat viewing and found a little clearance on I had a vase gracing my coffee table for a week.

I love their delicacy and individuality as they open. However, now that summer has fully arrived I fear this may be my only bunch this year...

Sunday, 14 July 2013

A sunny Saturday in Winchester...

Finally, a beautiful summer has been bestowed on England. On Saturday I drove down to Winchester to meet my friend C for lunch and an opportunity to enjoy the warmth and sunshine.

Winchester is a lovely cathedral and college town. We had a lovely lunch in the Wykeham Arms and then a wander through the town. On my way back to the car I took the opportunity to capture some of the lovely architecture which graces Winchester during the late afternoon sunlight...

...and there were plenty of people out enjoying the weather in the cathedral precinct.

I'm off on a residential course this coming week, so the flat hunt will be put on hold until next weekend. The weather is set to continue fair for the next few days - so spending the days on a large university campus will hopefully offer more opportunities to enjoy it than my usual inner-city work place!

Monday, 8 July 2013

The flat search - reflections on week one...

I wasn't intending to post a great deal of information about my flat search, but the lovely Kerry commented that it might be interesting to hear details regarding buying in the London property market. So, I thought I'd post an occasional update...

Firstly, do not get excited by the above photo - this is the style of property (2 bed Victorian cottage) that I would like to buy in one of the areas I am searching. Unfortunately, this cottage (and all those like it) are double my available budget. So this first week of viewings has all been about understanding what is in my price range and setting some realistic expectations.

So far I've viewed conversion flats (where an older, larger property is sub-divided into flats), purpose built flats and even a new build property....and after 5 viewings, I'm coming to accept some realities.

1. My flat is very unlikely to have street appeal (as in, it could quite well be ugly). I'm hoping that is not the case, but beggars can't be choosers.

2. I'm trying to work out how small a space I am actually prepared to live in. My budget will generally afford a 1-bed flat - but what is proving depressing is that most are so tiny even all my current London belongings would not fit in (not to mention what is waiting in storage in Australia). My current rental flat is about 50 square metres and I'm trying to find something at least that size. If I tell you I viewed a flat at the top of my budget on Saturday that was only 38 square metres you will understand my dilemma. And yes, my current and future flat are about the size of an Australian/US granny flat...this is the reality of buying in London.

3. London remains in a property bubble - which makes it particularly difficult for first time buyers. There are a lot of buyers in the market at my price range (which is at a level where we are all trying to avoid the stamp duty tax owed on a property rising from 1% to 3% of the purchase price). Consequently, there is a rush of viewings as soon as a property comes on to the market and they generally go under offer within 24 hours (at asking price or over). I did briefly consider waiting a little longer to see if prices dropped again, but if the GFC didn't significantly impact London prices, I think I'd be waiting to no avail.

I am in the fortunate position that I am in no rush - I don't need to vacate my rental flat by a certain date which helps to remove the pressure to choose something that I regret. Because of the competition from other buyers I did start to feel last week that I just needed to buy something before I was priced out of the market entirely. But I viewed a flat this afternoon that I had high hopes for - yet, when I was in the property it was easy to see that the compromise re size was just too great.

So my current plan is to keep looking in my chosen areas for the next 3-4 weeks and just see what becomes available in my price range. If the market remains as it is currently, then I think my preferred compromise is to look slightly further afield and be able to afford a bit more space, even though it will extend my work commute (to over an hour each way).

I'll keep you posted...