Buying or selling your home can be a pretty terrifying experience. If you’re not aware of the pitfalls and prepared enough to prevent them, it could come back to haunt you.
We asked home buyers share some of their horror stories as cautionary tales to others, so that you can learn from their mistakes and stop your dream home turning into a nightmare. We’ve kept the horrifying stories anonymous to save people’s blushes!
Brexit broke my property chain
I was all ready to move house – my offer had been accepted on a house that I loved, and I had just accepted an offer for the asking price on my flat. But later that week, on 24th June, Brexit happened. The leave vote meant that my buyer got cold feet and pulled out due to the “economic uncertainty” the country was now facing.
I couldn’t find another buyer in time, so I had to retract my offer on the house I wanted to buy. I eventually ended up selling my flat £85,000 less than the initial pre-Brexit offer.
Moral of the story… Don’t make life decisions before a big election or referendum!
My estate agent thought I was Batman
When I was selling my house, I was working from home so decided to try on fancy dress outfits for a party I was going to at the weekend- the full Batman outfit, as it happens. I was checking myself out in the mirror with my front door ajar and the next thing I know, the estate agent turns up. He gave me some slightly confused and judgemental looks; it was only 9am on a Tuesday after all!
Moral of the story… Don’t leave the front door open when the estate agent could be coming over!
I wanted to buy a boat, now I live in a caravan
I had pretty much given up on selling my house after it had been on the market for over a year. I’d taken down the ‘For Sale’ sign and everything. But then one day a man knocked on my door saying he had seen the sign months before and asked if I’d be interested in selling the house to him directly. I’d heard of people who had sold privately without an estate agent before so I thought, why not?
Turns out estate agents massively help to move the home buying process along… The buyer wanted a log burner certificate and evidence of the property boundary in writing before completion, but the conveyancer was hopeless at producing this for us, despite lots of chasing from my end. I wanted to move into a chic house boat, so I sold all my furniture ready for the down-size, but until the sale goes through I can’t afford to buy the boat. So my house has been emptied but is sitting vacant and ready for the new buyer and I have moved into a caravan temporarily.
That was a year ago… I’m still in the caravan and still waiting for these wood burner and boundary documents to miraculously appear so I can complete the transaction.
Moral of the story… Go through an estate agent, they actually know what they’re doing.
My mother-in-law is now my flat mate
Buying my first property took longer than I ever imagined, and to save money I had no choice but to move out of my beautiful rented flat – which was in central London and only took me half an hour to walk to work. Now I’ve been forced to live with the mother-in-law in Zone 5, which is a horror story in itself!
Moral of the story… Sometimes you have to make compromises to get on the property ladder
A plant cost me my dream home, and £650
One of my must-haves when I was looking for my new home was that it had a garden, so when I found a great Georgian semi with a half-acre garden, I was beyond excited. I opted for a home buyer’s report survey (an extra £150 on top of the mortgage lender’s free valuation survey) to uncover any issues, not expecting a plant to be the problem. The survey found Japanese Knotweed – a plant that is widely feared by surveyors as the roots “can grow through concrete” – a slight exaggeration, but it can threaten the structural integrity of your property and is a nightmare to keep under control.
I didn’t want to commit to buying a house with this sort of garden maintenance and the potential worry that I wouldn’t be able to sell the property on myself when I next wanted to move up the property ladder. So I pulled out of the purchase, but ended up losing £650 in survey and valuation fees and the searches my conveyancer had already carried out.
Moral of the story: Buy Home Buyer’s Insurance to protect your fees, and sometimes it pays in the long run to have a formal survey.
I didn’t own the path to my own front door
Our offer had been accepted on a new-build semi-detached home for myself and my wife, who was 5 months pregnant at the time. But when the conveyancer was doing searches he found out all the land leading up to and around the house, including the garden, driveway and the path right up to the front door, was in fact owned by the people in the house next door. They could technically block us from accessing our own house if they wanted to.
We had to pull out and find somewhere new (with the added pressure of moving in before my wife had the baby) but it was a close call. We were glad we checked the boundaries before we completed the purchase!
Moral of the story… Always get your conveyancer to carry out searches before signing on the dotted line and exchanging contracts.
My buyer was so keen, she basically stalked me
My house is lovely, but it’s quite a hard sell: in a remote location with a separate annex, so it took a while for us to find a buyer. When we found someone who was interested, she took a little too much interest in the property to the point where she was invading our privacy.
Yes, it’s a good idea to drive by the house you’re interested in buying at different times of the day to see what the area is like before you commit. But she took this to a whole new level and hung around in her car outside our home at all hours of the day. Then one evening as the family was just sitting down for dinner, she let herself in the back door, uninvited! We had to (quite forcibly) ask her to leave; talk about an invasion of privacy!
Moral of the story… Don’t be afraid to ask buyers to give you some space – it’s not legally their property yet!
I lost hundreds of pounds, and gained a sofa that’s too big for my flat
After years in a tiny rented flat, I had saved up and finally found my dream home – and it was within my budget! I made an offer at asking price, which was accepted, and was all set to move in. The paperwork was being drawn up and my conveyancer was already doing the searches. I even bought a sofa that fit perfectly in an alcove in the wall in the lounge of my new house.
A few weeks later I got a call from the estate agent to say that the sellers had been approached by someone with a higher offer. I couldn’t match it – I was already stretched to buy the house as it was. So the sellers rejected me and went with the highest bidder.
It seemed unfair, but I was told that until you sign and exchange the contract, it’s still the seller’s prerogative to accept another offer. So not only did I not get my dream home, but I had to pay hundreds for the searches that the conveyancer had already carried out, and the legal fees. And now I’m stuck with a sofa that doesn’t fit in my flat.
Moral of the story… Buy Home Buyer’s Insurance to protect your fees, and don’t buy any furniture until you’re in your new home.
If you’re thinking of buying a house, avoid your own nightmare by taking out Home Buyer’s Insurance in case your purchase doesn’t go through after you’ve agreed to sell. It only costs £35 and it protects you for up to £2,250 for any money you’ve spent on conveyancing fees and searches; surveys and valuations; and mortgage arrangements.