Buying my first flat - any advice?

Hello! :wave: I’m a regular viewer to this forum, as there’s so much good advice and interesting chat, but I’ve only just got around to registering for an account.

Having saved for a deposit for several years, I’ve finally been able to put an offer on a flat in London. I’m slightly terrified about the whole thing, as it has been quite a struggle to get to this point - so any advice is appreciated.

I’ve had my mortgage offer through for a 30 year from Barclays. I was very limited in choice, as my income isn’t entirely straight forward - so have ended up with a rate of 2.12%. Interested to hear whether you think that’s quite high at the moment (variable 2 yr)? My deposit is 23%. I’m full Monzo, and having read a couple of posts about Barclays not accepting Monzo, I’m a bit worried - but maybe that came up pre-offer?

I’m also very keen to keen how long it normally takes from draft contract to exchange/completion? This is the stage I’m at, and searches have only just been submitted.

Any advice or ‘things you wish you’d known’ before would be appreciated :slight_smile:


Hey Ben and welcome to the forum! :wave:

I’m no expert, but 2.12% sounds about mid-market. If I were you I’d make sure that I’d fully explored all options before settling on that. And speaking to brokers can be useful, if only to rule them out. I’m risk adverse, so I would probably look for a fixed longer term mortgage - but on the flip side I can’t see interest rates rising over the next few years. But then again who would have predicted a pandemic?

On the full Monzo point, I wouldn’t worry too much. If it turns out that the Barclays mortgage is the right one for you and (for whatever reason) they don’t accept Monzo (which feels like is against all the rulez) then just open a Barclays account and transfer the mortgage value over there. You could even try CASSing it back to Monzo - the direct debit guarantee should kick in then.

I’m sure others with more relevant experience will be here soon enough with property buying insight!

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Get contents insurance

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MSE is always a good place to look

And mortgages themselves (best on desktop rather than phone)

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Hi. Welcome.

It’s stressful and long but oh so worth it!

Who did you go to for your mortgage options? I can’t remember the %, but it’s low, less than 10% I think, for a mortgage broker to cover so they can say they are “all of market”

I struggled to start with, got denied from my bank and countrywide, but went with an independent and got a good deal in the end.

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Thank you Peter! Very useful, and I’m perfectly happy with ‘mid-market’ given it was pretty much the only non-specialist option my Broker could find that was willing to lend on my slightly complicated income.

Thanks for the re-assurance on the Monzo point. There’s so much to worry about and I’m over-thinking everything!

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It’s very stressful. This is actually second attempt, the first property I was going to buy didn’t go through the valuation successfully.

I used ‘London and Country’ - actually recommended I think on one of the MSE links above. They actually made quite a few mistakes during the application, but were resolved fairly quickly in the end.

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Do you have any other bank accounts, or is it just Monzo for you?

I ask because, while Monzo is my main account, I think I’d struggle to use it for a house purchase. Monzo’s (inexplicable, in my opinion) policy is that you need to contact them, I think, no more than 24 hours before you transfer your deposit. There have been too many reports of Monzo cutting it fine for my risk appetite. So I’d probably play it safe and use a high street bank, I’m afraid.

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I’d agree with Peter. This process is stressful enough, anything you can do to make it easier on yourself, do it without thought.

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Yes, I have an old unused Natwest - but I listed my Monzo details on the application form originally. My savings are in a Marcus, which I think is linked to my Monzo is some respect - so I probably need to make sure I investigate all that well in advance!

I also have a help to buy ISA, where I can apparently claim the £3,000 bonus via my solicitor, but it can’t be used towards the deposit (which was a bit annoying!)

Darn sight better than my mortgage rate of around 7% from Northern Crock in 2004. Took me a long time to see any progress even with a repayment mortgage

Any advice? Well

Solicitor will only ever make any progress when you chase them. Do keep on their case

Everything takes longer than expected. Some of that is natural and you have to bear with it. Someone will cock something up at some point (NR in my case) and you have to work through it as no one else will chase it for you

There will be a sudden rush of expenditure right at the last minute. Be ready. Keep back what you can

The whole thing is a bit surreal at times, but you can also feel a bit in the eye of the hurricane. That’s all normal. Don’t sweat it

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Thank you Michael, very re-assuring to hear. Gosh, 7% really puts it into perspective! I’m starting to wonder whether I could have been better taking a 5 year fixed (that was also offered), but I just decided that was too long if I didn’t like living there etc.

Will do my best chasing the solicitor. There’s no chain which should help, but the solicitor is waiting for the management pack from the freeholder, so perhaps that will be the first delay.

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Please check the length of the leasehold. If it is short you may need to work with other owners in the building to get it extended. It may be fine now, but if you want to remortgage down the line it may cause a problem. I had to do that…it went through pretty smoothly but your mileage may vary.
Getting a Mortgage on a Leashold Property - HomeOwners Alliance.

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Should do, but I had no chain either and it all disappeared into missing paperwork at the mortgage company for over a month nonetheless

Just be mentally prepared for a few hitches and you’ll be fine

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While they might need to renew it, I’ll be sorting mine individually if and when I do. Working together would be more common for taking on shared freehold than renewing leasehold

Also the law will be changing soon to make renewing to 999 years easier and cheaper (holding off now having heard that on the news a couple of weeks back)

HSBC had no issues remortgaging me a couple of times because, while not optimally long, the lease remaining period is still much longer than the mortgage term

Hi Ben,

Some great advice already given to you.

Rate is competitive for the loan to value if your income situation isn’t straightforward as specialist lenders tend to add a premium. You can always take a fixed rate with Barclays or remortgage elsewhere if eligible after the 2 year variable deal ends.

As others have said keep touching base with your solicitor and mortgage provider on a bi weekly basis to make sure they are progressing your applications.

Get contents insurance and shop around every year for the best deal.

Same for energy supplier, keep shopping around for best deals or use U switch?!

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Oh and get a Quidco account! The cash back for starting everything can be really good!

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That’s good news. The lease is 94 years, so while it won’t need renewing immediately, it’s something I’m aware of and will probably need thinking about depending on how long I live there.

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Thank you for the additional advice. Contents insurance probably needs to be high priority - I just had a look a the London crime map, and the borough I’m moving to seems to have one of the highest rates of residential burglary and general theft.

Have never used quidco or uswitch, so thanks for the recommendations.