What Katy Did: Property, part 2!
Colunist Katy has been busy with her paintbrush and talks this week about her second property purchase in as many months.
And so from Colchester back to Ipswich, where my second property sits awaiting layers of paint, plenty of furniture and blinds up at the window before I can more in.
For those who did not read my column last week (shame on you!) then let me fill you in. I have, in the past month, been helping to tart up a 1930s semi in Colchester with the intention of letting it out. And as tenants have been found and are moving in (well they will have by the time this goes to print) I have been spending most of my free time up the road in Essex, painting bedrooms, bathroom and kitchen, hallway etc. But this is not my only recent joint property purchase. For at the same time as the Colchester house sale was chugging along nicely, I spied a lovely Victorian terrace in Ipswich only five minutes from the station and a short walk into town, in the up-and-coming area of Old Stoke (being close to all those swanky, loft-style apartments in the docks development it's only a matter of a time before the gentrification process spreads up the hill).
Despite already having plunged all my money into the buy to let, I was still keen to bag this bargain of a two-bed for my own living purposes and so put in an offer barely an hour after viewing.
From offer to completion took a mere seven weeks, including applying for two mortgages thanks to the mean people at Scottish Widows refusing me - and thanks also to my mum, without whom I would not have been granted a mortgage anyway due to even the cheapest house being more than four-and-a-half times my salary.
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As I write, the plastering has been done, the original sash windows fixed, the carpets stripped out and floorboards sanded (one of which I varnished with my own fair hand).
Now that I'm back at work I have had to rope in friends and family to help continue the painting. In fact, as I write, I'm not altogether sure where I will be sleeping this weekend as my brother arrives back from his adventures in Italy and will want his bedroom back, which I have been inhabiting for a month or so.
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Being back at the parents' house has been both strange yet totally normal. In fact, although I lived alone in the flat for a year, going home felt like I'd never moved out in the first place. I quite liked the company for a start. Being able to chat idly to someone face to face at the end of the day, instead of going home to an empty house was rather nice, and the benefit of free meals and laundry services - just like the university days - was also rather comforting (though it was just me and the cat for a fortnight as ma and pa were on holiday).
Now that my rent-free vacation is coming to an end, my biggest dilemma is whether or not to blow the budget on a good quality, well-made sofa (even in the sale, places like DFS still charge the earth) or whether I ought to save the pennies and opt for a basic model from the likes of Argos or Homebase (did you know they are both owned by the same people now? Neither did I until I looked in the new Homebase catalogue and experienced a sense of déjà vu, having studied the Argos catalogue at length - how sad).
But though I may not have purchased blinds for the house just yet, I have certainly been blinded by the allure of property investment and have even started looking into options of new-builds, where you can often get cash-back incentives so it needn't cost the earth.
You'd think that all this house stuff would have put me off buying again for a long time and although on the one hand I never want to see the inside of Focus or B&Q ever again, part of me wants to expand my bijou property portfolio so when I retire I can sell up and sail round the world (or something like that).
Anyway, my mind may already have changed as you read this, as my first mortgage payment (always larger than the rest for reasons of interest, apparently) was due to debit my account yesterday. Not to mention buildings and contents insurance, life insurance, paying the plasterers, electricians, plumbers etc. Houses may be good investments in the long term but they sure as heck don't make you rich in the short term!