Buying a house is a funny business. It’s probably the biggest purchase you will ever make but it’s spent on something you don’t actually look at or view that closely, relative to the importance in your life! You wouldn’t marry someone who you’d only met a couple of times for twenty minutes (Disney’s Frozen of course provides a great example of why you shouldn’t marry someone you have just met!)
Purchasing a property and entering into a mortgage agreement is like a strange game, a fun and exciting one and also a frustrating one! It feels like it’s not real money. You are effectively committing to spending a huge amount of cash, but it’s broken down over such a long time! I mean, It’s hard to imagine yourself in five years, let alone twenty-five years isn’t it?!
There is also so much to do. Estate Agents to call, viewing properties on-line and in the ‘flesh’. When I was first looking at buying a house years ago, the Internet wasn’t such a huge thing. Remember when you didn’t have the Internet with you all the time on your phone- it seems so prehistoric- not entirely sure how on earth people coped before property and finance apps available at their fingertips!
There are also huge decisions to be made, and they need to be pretty final! Is a detached or semi detached house preferable? Garden or no garden. Which area etc! All crucial decisions, that could effectively affect my life for the next ten-twenty years!
But, I think it’s important to think long term. Whilst back then, renting a house in a ‘ student party’ area was all well and good, did I really still want to live there in a few years time?
Questions I asked myself:
Did I want to move to the countryside? Where would my friends going to move to eventually?
How would I get to work?
How much would public transport or a taxi cost from the city?
So many things to consider and that’s before the bigger longer longer term consideration that I’d look at now, such as
What are the schools like?
Is there an anti-social behaviour problem locally?
What are the local crime rates like?
Is the area friendly and suitable for kids?
Are there amenities that are useful to me?
Finally there’s the big question, the REAL question.
What could I afford to pay?
I met with numerous mortgage advisers to try and understand how far my money would stretch, what I could afford and what I could get for my money. It’s confusing, simply because there are so many options to take regarding the loan and repayment. Banks or brokers will also have different offers, eligibility and affordability criteria, it’s difficult sometimes to even ask the obvious question- how much can I spend?!!
I didn’t want something that didn’t meet my standards but equally I didn’t want to stretch myself too far and have no money for anything else! This is how affordability works. I now realise that once you have kids, disposable income becomes non existent and so I was happy that I stuck with my banks advice all those years ago!
So how do you know if you can afford to buy a house? This is where the clever people at Santander come in. They have recently launched a very amazing online mortgage calculator. This handy little piece of kit will simplify all the maths for you allowing you sit down with your laptop or smart phone and work out your basic affordability for yourself. Using the tool, you will see how much you could borrow by simply answering a few questions about your income and monthly outgoings. Then, ta-dah! You quickly and easily know how much your next pad could cost, and you’re on your war to becoming a fully fledged homeowner!
Working in tandem with Internet estate agents I imagine the next time I want to apply for a mortgage this means that house buying is a lot easier and means you can focus on the more fun stuff like how you’re going to decorate the kitchen and most importantly, organising the house warming party!
* Disclosure: I received a fee for writing this post in collaboration with Santander. All words and opinions are my own*