A few years ago, Sophia and her husband Will wanted to buy a home with friends in London, but they couldn’t get a mortgage that let them buy as a group. They ultimately decided to found a mortgage lender (spoiler: that’s us, Gen H) that could help more people get on the ladder.
This year, Sophia and Will finally bought the house they wanted with a Gen H mortgage. We asked Sophia about the lessons she learned during the house hunt and the tips she’d pass on to aspiring owners now that she’s been through the process. Read on for her pragmatic advice and the strategy that got an honest answer out of her surveyor.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I'm a 34-year-old workaholic obsessed with tracking house prices on Rightmove. I live in London so insane house prices just made the idea of buying a home of my own difficult to contemplate (meanwhile, I was spending a fortune on rent).
When my parents (in the US) figured out the cost of our cute 2-bedroom home, it nearly killed them.
How did you save for your deposit? Did you have to make any sacrifices?
Does anyone living in London not make financial sacrifices of some kind? Our deposit came from three places: savings, a gift from my mother-in-law, and a loan from friends. We had contributed to our friends' deposit a few years back, and they then returned the favour!
What was the hardest part of the homebuying process?
The stress of getting out of our rental lease before our completion date. We ultimately panicked and moved in with my husband's mum for a few weeks while all our belongings sat in storage.
What surprised you the most about buying a home?
I knew that estate agents are famously pushy, but golly-gee! I stopped answering my phone for 3 months.
"If I was your daughter, would you tell me to buy it or leave it?"
What advice or tips do you have for people currently looking to buy?
1. Don't lose your heart too early. So much can come to light over the buying process and you need to keep a clear head. Never enter into a negotiation that you aren't willing to walk away from.
2. We had a homebuyer's report done that flagged all sorts of things that freaked me out. Our conveyancer (Rebecca from Gen H Legal!) told me to call up our surveyor and ask him this question: "If I was your daughter, would you tell me to buy it or leave it?" Speaking with him was reassuring, and the report itself helped when negotiating on price.
3. Keep money in reserve for your first month. There are so many expenses that I expected, but hadn't properly accounted for – white goods are expensive!
What will you do differently the next time around?
This was my fourth move in five years. I will die in this little house.
We’re always looking to share the stories of other Gen H customers. Want to share? You can email firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.