In the recent past weeks we have been looking at the opportunities to purchase a home. A trime to move out of the rented apartments we reside in, that cost us over $1000.00 in total per month, plus bills and combine our earnings and buy a house. In the little picture it seems to make sense as the money we pay on rent would make a decent payment for a mortgage. This is true, but it is the initial start upon that property ladder that seems to be the issue more than anything. Firstly you have to have the deposit. Something that we thought we had. Secondly you have to find the house. Again, in our case, something we thought we had. Thirdly, you have to agree with the bank, after hours of meetings, filling in paperwork, that the mortgage they offer is the best for you (and them). Again, something we thought we had!

It seems though we are wrong. Yes, we do have the deposit, 10%, but this isn’t enough. You see, we are planning on buying a new build and due to the inflated prices that are placed upon them, usually 5%, and the fact that it works in the same way as a brand new car; you pay an excess for the privilege of being the first owner, we don’t have enough. We need at least 25% deposit. Let’s break that down. In the area we are looking in, house prices are roughly £200,000, so you are talking £50,000. Unfortunately for us neither party in this house buying plan have this stashed away in the local bank, off-shore account or under the mattress. It was something that was also eliminated by the woman on site at the development. All she asked was ‘do you have your deposit?’ to which, with our 10% thought we had. Her eyes, at sharing this information, lit up and a smile filled the width of her face. ‘Go on, go on through, have a look at the show homes, then come back and let’s talk about which plot you are reserving…..(and more importantly, let me calculate the commission that I will be getting from you).

It seems that developers look for a specific seller for their properties. It seems that, after a few visits to a number of sites around the area we are hoping to buy, that they opt for the mid-aged woman. Between 35 and 50. Usually immaculately looking in appearance, hairstyle and subtle make-up highlighting their cheek bones to offer a warm and friendly appearance at all times. Does it never, as it didn’t with us at first, cross the mind of the purchaser why you never see a male in this role? Is it because this breed of house seller sat in their porta-cabin on a male building site offers warmth and comfort to the ‘target’ they have in site? Is it done so that the woman can instantly warm and home in on the ‘lady’ or the purchasing couple? who knows?

Greeted by Sue with a huge smile, pristine ironed ‘home sellers’ uniform and BMW parked in the ‘visitors car park’, we started our journey of the house hunt. The mortgage side of things, we thought, was fully secure. Both having being approved, separately, for a mortgage we thought we were in look. How things, after a visit to the bank, were about to change.

As I mentioned previously, if you are looking to buy a new build property then you have to have at least 25% deposit. The woman at the site and the bank had not bothered to share this information until we went to see ‘Christine’ our mortgage lady at the ‘world’s local bank’. It was here that she broke the news. This was after sharing her life story, how her daughter had been made redundant and was now back in work behind the beauty counter of Selfridges, Trafford and enjoying it. After the cups of tea dispensed from the machine were placed in-front of us and more importantly for Christine, after her eyes had initially lit up at the thought of the commission she would be receiving for selling a mortgage. It didn’t take long after the penny had dropped for those burning embers to be defused and the look of ‘loss’ cross her face. At one point I was half expecting her to whip away our complimentary cup of tea (or at least ask for a contribution towards it0, but no, instead, Christine pushed back on her swivel chair and stood up. She looked at both of us, separately, it wasn’t as though she was doing an impression of Janet Street-Porter, where her eyes look in opposite directions and uttered the words ‘There may be a solution’. No sooner had the words passed her lips Christine was legging it the length of the bank to reach her supervisor. (If only the trials team had been in the bank that day, we may have been seeing Christine in the 100 metres woman’s sprint at the Olympics).

Time passed, approximately ten minutes for those that want to know, then Christine was back (minus baton in hand). In this time we had been sat discussing our options and what the possibilities might be that Christine might bring back. It had also given us time to have a quick rummage through the paperwork on Christine’s desk giving vital information regards mortgages. This was, in the words of the long lost Mastercard advert, priceless. We had only just straightened up this information when Christine returned. She grabbed the back of the red swivel chair, looked down, as though trying to catch her breath and then looked directly at us both (see above notes on looks). The fire wasn’t back in her eyes. She looked upset. She slowly made her way around the chair and slumped in it. She then uttered ‘Boys. It’s bad news I am afraid. There is absolutely nothing we can do. The supervisor say so. She said no. We have nothing. I am so deeply sorry (that I have lost the commission that I woukld have made upon this mortgage going through). I wish you all the best (in finding the remaining 15% and being sat back at my desk so that I can have the commission that I would have had and this hour then doesn’t actually feel like it has been completely wasted for me). She then leaned across her desk and grabbed my hand. She gave it a small shake and did the same to Matt. She then wished us well and we left.

It is here, at this point, that you may think that we gave up and headed home. At first you may have been right but it wasn’t the case. I am one of those people that once my heart is set on something and we or I want it then I will try my best to get it. We found ourselves in the bank next door. One that I have banked with for over 30 years. Hopefully they would show some loyalty to a long standing customer and help. We joined the queue with optimism and waited for the 50+ year old woman perched high on her swivel chair  to call us forward.  As we were waiting in the queue, and being nosy, I was taking in the sights around me. Suddenly from a side door ran a rather plump man. He ran into a small private room (the kind you go when you want to discuss banking matters, and or mortgages) opened a filing cabinet drawer, grabbed a lacoste bag, piroeted around the blue swivel chair, leaped into the air and out through the main bank door. He was gone. It was 4.20pm and he had left for the day. This hadn’t gone unnoticed by the 50+ year old who was now dealing with our query, it lead to a raise of her arm to check her quaint, dainty silver watch, which then lead to a shake of the head and a slightly over exaggerated tut. She continued to take our details and then indicated that we needed to wait at the side of the small booth where the gentleman had part carried out his own audition for ‘Dancing on Ice’. As we made our way to the waiting area, she slide herself off her swivel chair and glided without any effort across the bank floor. She went into the back and five minutes later returned to where we were seated. She looked saddened and slightly annoyed. She informed us ‘It seems that the mortgage advisor, who should of been on site until 5pm, has somewhat left the building early for the day. All I can do is apologise and if you wish, book you in for an appointment’. We decided that would be the best case and so have to return the following day to discuss our needs and requirements.

So home we headed. It was here that we decided to gain advise from the sale representative with regards any information she may have in how to move forward with our mortgage and now what seems to be a short fall of 15% of the deposit we seem to be required to pay. It was here that she informed us of a Government scheme. A scheme where both the building contractor and the Government give you a maximum of 20% deposit on a interest free loan for the first five years. We would then have to contribute 5% and with this we would have the 25% that is required by the mortgage lenders. We took the details and made it our mission to look into this that evening. It also raised the question of why this wasn’t mentioned to us in the first place? But we weren’t going to get that answer.

The scheme, known as HomeBuy and First HomeBuy is backed by the Government and helps people who do not have the full deposit (25%) purchase their new home with a maximum of a 20% loan (interest free) which can either be paid back in the five years, or can be paid back when the home owner decides to sell the house.  It’s an option. It’s one way to get the property that we have both started to like and plan what we are doing with it. We just need to look into it fully and make sure it’s the best option. For once, we need to hold back and take our time. Not run into it all guns blazing! What we do know is that it does come with some limitations. For instance the HSBC, First Direct and Santander do not view this as a good incentive to offer you a mortgage, mainly, because if, god forbid, anything goes wrong and the house is lost, it doesn’t solely go to the mortgage provider. It seems there is one lender out there on the market that will entertain such a scheme but we are still to find out what the APR etc would be for that mortgage, but according to the sales guy on the phone it’s working out to be good. Maybe, just maybe, this is our way of getting onto that first, very awkward, property ladder rung.

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