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On the Ladder: sealed bids and strong competition in central Bristol

On the Ladder is our blog series that looks at at real-life surveys and property moves. Kicking off 2020, we hear from a couple buying their first home together. Despite having to offer over the odds to win a sealed bid in a competitive market, their story ends happily as they managed to save £20,000 after getting a survey on their Bristol maisonette.

Who: Lizzie (31) Doctor, and Mark (31) Engineer

Bristol house survey 2016Bristol kitchen surveyPrevious property
Renting a period flat in Clifton, Bristol
Features: 2 bedrooms, shower room, galley kitchen and living–dining room with period features
Size: 1000 sq ft
Price: £1100 pcm

New property
Self-contained two-storey maisonette near the centre of Bristol
Features: 2 bedrooms, bathroom, hall, large kitchen, study and living/dining room with period features
Size: 1250 sq ft
Asking price: £375,000
Purchase price: £380,000

Why did you decide to move?
We had been renting separately and wanted to move in together. The rental market in Bristol was strong with rent rapidly increasing each year, so it seemed sensible to try and get on the property ladder. Unfortunately, at this time in Bristol there was a lot of competition for properties. Places were selling for significantly more than the asking prices, with a lot of sales going to sealed bids.

Why this location?
We both wanted to live off the Gloucester Road in Bristol (the longest street for independent shops in the UK). We also have friends living all around St Andrews Park, and so Bishopston is ideal for us. The location is also a perfect short cycle ride from work or in to town.

Why this property?
We were initially looking for a house but realized that the ones in our budget were small terraced houses with small rooms. We decided that this maisonette had the feeling of a house along with lots of period features and the large room proportions that we loved. We were also keen for a small study area separate from the bedroom because we both spend time working from home. As keen cyclists, having a area separate from the main house to store our bikes in was essential. This place seemed to tick all the boxes for our first home together and a ‘5-year’ plan, so we went for it.

Did you have a survey?
We had to get a valuation survey as a part of the mortgage requirements. However, our friends who’d had building surveys in Bristol mentioned how much more thorough they were compared with valuation surveys, and we knew that period properties can hide several defects. So, we decided to extend the valuation survey to a full building survey because the property was at the top end of our budget and we wanted to make sure there would be no nasty surprises.

Survey found window defectsbuilding defects surveyWhat did the survey find?
The survey was extensive and provided excellent pictures of areas of potential damage. The report highlighted work that might need to be done on a short, medium and long term basis. Our survey did pick up work that would need to be done in the short-term, including sorting out the rotting traditional wooden windows, re-rendering the outside wall and sorting out damaged guttering.

We had initially offered £400,000 as a sealed bid. The findings from the survey allowed us to negotiate on the asking price and we successfully reduced our offer to £380,000.

What’s next?
We are busy working our way through the house. The first job that we did was replacing the old wooden sash windows with new replica double glazed wooden sash windows; this has made a huge difference to the temperature and noise levels in the house. The rest of the work is cosmetic so we’re becoming a dab-hand with a sander and paint-brush.

Find out about our Bristol surveys here
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