Land barons we will become

London Property SIgnsMr Jones has bought and sold a number of properties over the years so buying another property should not be that big of a deal, but for Mrs Jones, although she has ‘owned’ property, she has never bought property herself.

Owning property is a funny topic. The reasons people feel compelled to own property seems to be varied. The number one rationale seems to be, that when you own a property, there is this perception that it is yours.

If you manage to buy a property without any obligations then yes, it is yours, however if you buy with a mortgage, bond or loan, in reality it isn’t yours. Instead, it owns you.

Owning a house is a bit like having a pet. It brings rewards and joy, but it also brings obligations, restraints and restrictions. If you want to do anything carefree and reckless, spontaneous and off-the-cuff – you have to plan ahead.

In spite of everything

So, despite the restraints, the counter intuitiveness of buying in a tremendously buoyant property city property market boom, and the risks, we set out on a path of property acquisition.

The risks of buying high and then landing in a negative equity position are palpable, the reality of this is well known to many people who bought high priced properties in the early part of the millennium only to find 20 – 30% of the buying price evaporate almost overnight as toxic assets were revealed and the banking industry tanked. We had several friends who bought tremendously expensive unaffordable properties only to default and have them repossessed.

So in spite of this possible risk, we remained resolute and we proceeded…

Buying property in a new market with financing is interesting in so much as it introduces one to a whole new world of adventure with credit management, reckoning and assessment. Even if we were buying property outright for cash, there are processes and procedures and reconciliations, justifications and proofs that are needed to ensure that the source of your funds are all legitimate and above-board.

When you buy with someone else’s money, you have to have some money. Some money to pay the deposit, some money to pay the legal fees, the stamp duty etc.

The interesting thing is that assuming you have a 10% deposit, you have to have another three to three and half percent to pay for the fees.

The search

UKPropertyWe started our property search pretty much from the moment we landed on this side of the pond.

Deep down I guess we felt owning a piece of England, was probably something we would want to do, and owning something in London? Well who wouldn’t want to say that they have a house in London. “Our London place“.

Owning in the City was more preferable to owning something in the country because Mrs Jones likes the idea of being a big city girl rather than a country girl.

There are many apps and sites to choose from, but of course the first thing you need to do is to decide where you want to put your roots.

When we arrived in the big smoke, the number one objective was to not be too far from work. A long commute seemed something to avoid at almost any cost. It comes with a price though, if you aren’t paying a big ticket price for rent then you are paying a relatively large amount in transportation and then there is the commute itself. Soul destroying at worst, an opportunity to read, nap or listen to a podcast or talking book at best.

The SouthWest

So we settled on SOWELO, South West London – an area awash with South Africans, Antipodeans, the well heeled and others.  South West of the City and South of the river.  Not so far as the mink and manure set of Richmond and Barnes or as young and upwardly mobile as the yummy mummy set of Battersea.

It’s hard to believe that it was four years ago, but yes, four years ago we settled in SW15 and though we have only lived in two parts of SW15, we get it and it kind of gets us. On face value it is expensive, but then anything relatively close to the river or The City is spendy.

We just have to watch the numbers and rationalize the benefits.  At least with this locale we can travel to Earlsfield and Wimbledon, our workplaces, with relative ease, we don’t ‘have’ to have a car.

At a push, we can walk where we need to be and be there within an hour. Public transport is regular (or as regular as TFL can be expected to be) and of the variety that you can take a tube, train or bus to the hot and high spots without too much effort. A boon if you ever have visitors.

London signageSo when looking for a place to buy it was understandable that we looked in SW15 – the prices were shattering and rapidly eroding our modest aspirations.

After looking all over the place, we still concluded we wanted to stay in the South-West – North was interesting but too far, the West was too expensive and the East… well too, East London!

We started with SW15 and quickly determined that you still needed a King’s ransom or a fairy godmother in order to secure anything decent.  So we expanded our search outwards, SW16, SW17, SW18 and even SW19.

We looked on the other side too, down Morden way towards Sutton but what quickly became apparent is that though the distances are not great, the property agents are like mole colonies, they only service very specific areas, so spreading your interest far and wide is not a great strategy unless you are prepared to just take anything that comes along.

What we also determined is that the websites and even the signboards are often littered with ruses as offers. Properties that suggest that something is on offer may have long closed and some realtor signs are permanently in place. The websites are filled with honeypots which realtors use to scoop up prospective buyers.

So we settled on SW18 and fell into the abyss filled with voracious realtors.




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