24 Sep On the Ladder: a couple buying a £300K first home in Oxfordshire
Welcome to our new series looking at real property moves. This month, first-time buyers Charlie and Bethany tell us about their purchase of a listed thatched country cottage in North Oxfordshire.
Who: Charlie (30), self-employed business owner; Bethany Noberth (26), writer; Alfie, cocker spaniel
When: Early 2019
Renting a period terrace house in Alvechurch, just outside Birmingham
Features: 2 bedrooms, small bathroom, tiny kitchen, living room and shared garden
Size: 600 sq feet
Price: £850 pcm
17th century Grade II listed thatched cottage in a friendly North Oxfordshire village
Features: 3 bedrooms, garage, living room, dining room, good-sized kitchen, enclosed garden
Size: 1188 sq feet
Asking price: £330,000
Purchase price: £305,000
Why did you decide to move?
We were tired of renting and having all of our money go to a landlord, but until we had finished our studies [Charlie was studying as a mature student, and Bethany was doing a PhD when they met], we were unable to get a mortgage. As soon as our job contracts came through, we were desperate to get on the property ladder.
Why this location?
The decision to live in Oxfordshire was driven by the locations of our offices. Beyond that, we had already decided that we would like to live somewhere fairly rural but not too far from towns and cities. We were also adamant that we were too young for a tiny village with nothing going on, so we were pleased to find out that there were plenty of Oxfordshire villages with pubs, shops and even hairdressers, within commuting distance of London and Birmingham.
Why this property?
We narrowed down our search to a few of the bigger villages in the north of the county (where house prices are slightly cheaper than close to Oxford!) and looked round several properties. We found quite a few small but beautifully appointed places, but we fell in love with our cottage. It had three bedrooms, so there was plenty of space for visitors. It also had plenty of room downstairs, with a good-sized kitchen, living room and dining room. We also liked the fact that there was scope to convert the garage into a study for home-working.
It needed quite a lot of work doing to it to bring it up to date, but that allowed us to put our own stamp on the property. It also meant that it was a bit more affordable than it would have been otherwise!
Did you have a survey?
Given the age of the property we felt it would be crazy not to have a professional assess it. Given that it had been standing for hundreds of years, we weren’t too worried that it was going to fall down anytime soon. It did however have numerous nooks and crannies, a large loft space and both thatched and flat roofs, all of which we wanted investigating. We therefore decided to go for a Full Building Survey, to make sure that the cottage was inspected thoroughly, and to reassure us that we were fully aware of the costs of necessary repairs and maintenance.
What did the survey find?
The survey did find several issues with the house. They weren’t deal-breakers but we did have to reassess our budget and how much we were willing to pay. It also allowed us to put together a plan of action and prioritize which parts of the house needed updating first. We started with the wiring!
We are still working our way through the house. We’ve been busy removing old carpets and taking out a pretty ancient kitchen. We’re trying to do as much of the work as we can ourselves to save money. Even the dog has been trying to help!
All names have been changed.