There have been times when I never thought I would get to the point of being able to write this post.
It was almost 12 months ago that I began looking for my first home to buy. After finding a flat at the end of August last year, things began to fall apart in the purchasing process and I eventually walked away from the sale in October.
Once I returned from my fellowship trip, I started to attend property viewings again. The re-start of the process also allowed me to review my priorities - and rather than looking for a small flat in London, I decided to push my search further afield where I could afford a small house and garden.
Of course, the re-start of my search coincided with a booming property market in the south east of the UK. There was even a marked difference in what my budget could afford from when I started searching a few months previously...and as the time went by over Christmas and New Year, I could literally see the prices rising on my search alerts.
I set myself a broad search area - I was getting details on properties across Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire and Hertfordshire...pretty much anything that was on a main train line into London with a commuting time of 45-60 minutes. Still, the market was flooded with buyers, so it was still a long and drawn out process to find something I liked, could afford, and was successful with submitting an offer.
Finally, in late February, I found a lovely little Victorian semi-detatched cottage in Kent. It was a popular listing, so I was delighted when I heard a week later that my offer had been accepted.
If only the rest of the process had proceeded as smoothly. The past three months have involved arguments with the mortgage valuation surveyor, roofing contractor reports, and vendors further up the chain throwing tantrums and threatening to pull out of the chain. Which only confirms how unnecessarily stressful the property purchase system is in the UK. Finally, after three months of ongoing negotiation, paperwork and stress, contracts were finally exchanged this week (although the attempt was started on Wdnesday it wasn't until a few minutes before 5pm on Friday afternoon that it actually occurred...nothing like drawing out the pain of this process until the last possible minute!)
So, I have a new home....the completion/move-in date is imminent, so I'll be back soon with some more pictures, and an ever-increasing list of projects that I'll be undertaking over the next year or two...