There is no doubt that COVID-19 has made us all re-evaluate a lot of aspects of our lives. Prior to relocating to Wiltshire in 2017, I spent 12 years living in a one bedroom ground floor flat, which had limited communal outdoor space. It was also on a busy road in South West London/Surrey – so smack bang in the middle of the commuter belt. Whilst it was my first home and allowed me to get on the property ladder, by the time I left, I had grown out of the space.
Even just a few years before I moved, I never would have imagined leaving London – I didn’t “do” the countryside and I didn’t like fresh air. Then a series of events occurred and it made sense to look at property outside of the M25. What I could get for the equity in my flat was mind blowing.
I did look at a flat in Wiltshire (which due to family reasons was where I was looking at moving to) which would have meant I could be totally, or almost, mortgage free, but I decided the compromise was too much.
In the end I found a great three bedroom detached house, which was £50,000 less than I sold my flat for. With the lease extension (which I had to do as part of the sale) and the legal fees, I didn’t end up reducing my mortgage, but the space I now have has been a blessing every day since lockdown. I know a lot of people are not as fortunate as I am to have a room where I can work from home, separate to my main living space, and also private outdoor space.
The stamp duty holiday ends in April 2021, and this may mean to a slow of the housing market. House prices may even drop up to 8% due to the stamp duty re-introduction as well as rising unemployment due to COVID.
Where to start?
Whatever your reasons for moving are, wanting that outside space in case of further lockdowns, wanting to relocate or even up or downsize, you need to work out what you can afford to borrow.
A great place to start is with a mortgage calculator. This will allow you to take figures from your budget and work out how much you can afford to borrow based on your salary, but also taking into consideration all your expenditures. Just make sure to include costs such as legal expenses and removal costs into all your sums.
Once you have a figure in mind comes the fun bit! House hunting! If you’ve got this far, hopefully you know roughly what you are looking for, but it’s always a good idea to look at other properties. I really didn’t think I’d like the house I ended up buying based on the estate agents photos. I went purely to see what I would have to compromise in order to get a detached house. It actually turned out that the house was amazing and the photos were terrible. Another property which I thought I would love, I actually hated because the photos were taken from angles to make the property look much bigger and nicer than it was. My top tip is to be open minded, know what you want and stick to it!