We have lived in rented accommodation for well over a decade, initially by choice but six years ago we made the mistake of not buying when we could and now we are struggling to even get close to the bottom rung of the property ladder. However, at the end of 2016 we were thrown a very small lifeline and so began our journey along the bumpy road to what will hopefully be home ownership. This weekly blog plots our route with stories of renting, mortgages, agents, banks and buying.
Moving house is said to be amongst the most stressful experience second only to a family member dying.
I’ve moved 24 times.
By the time I was 14 years old I had moved house 8 times; it was sadly nothing as romantic as being a ‘forces’ family, no, it was a different kind of force altogether, that failing of human nature my father suffered from otherwise known as the grass is always greener and within months of settling into our new home and school, he would decide there was a better job opportunity so off we’d go again.
I promised myself that if I ever had them I would never subject my children to this nomadic cum gypsy style of living, but as Mary Poppins so accurately said, promises are like pie crusts, easily broken.
In my defence the middle tranche was during an entrepreneurial phase of refurbishing properties but since moving south we decided to rent until we had sorted out various aspects of family life. In the last 7 years, three of the moves had to be made when the landlord decided to sell the house we were living in and the only reason we haven’t bought our own home is because of the change in lending rules brought about by the few greedy financial fat cats who ruined it for the rest of us mere mortals.
The fact is it was those same fat cats who caused the housing crisis that started back in the 1990s; the consequences and fall-out of their selfish gluttony continues to be felt by the majority of the population who are left carrying the can.
Gone are the days when an understanding bank manager would treat a customer like an individual, so too the days when self-certification allowed the self employed to get a foot on the property ladder. Today you have to have a whopping great deposit, no loans or debts and earn in excess of £40k per annum.
With landlords becoming the new breed of greedy fat cats and rental payments often being more than you would pay for a mortgage, there is very little hope for anyone to clear their debts let alone build up a big enough deposit.
But after years of renting, lining the pension pockets of other people, having to pay £1,000s in agent’s fees, house removal fees and deposits, we have been thrown a life line.
I’m not going to make any promises, but 2017 will hopefully be the year we finally stop moving and this blog is going to follow our progress to see how easy or difficult it will be to start again at the bottom of the property ladder. I will give you a weekly update to plot our passage through the mortgage maze with some additional anecdotes on renting.
I have to accept we may not end up with the house I expected to be living in by now, but it has to be better than living in someone else’s house where you are under constant surveillance by the agent and regularly reminded it will never be your home.
So as the dull grey of January once more sweeps across my horizon, I will try to see beyond the bleakness and keep telling myself the outlook is sunny.