So you’ve decided to buy a property. You’re probably thinking it’s time you invested your savings into something useful, or you’ve had it up to here with your little brother’s inability to put the goddamn toilet seat down. Whatever the reason, the decision has been made.
For most of us, the next stop is the bank, where you proceed to ask them nicely if they would lend you some money. Loan approved, time to go property shopping! Except not quite. The process of getting a loan, particularly for the purchase of property, is not for the faint of heart. Here is what no one tells you about getting a home loan.
The numbers will keep you up at night… for a little while
When you first sit down with your bank and ask them how much they’d be willing to lend you, you’ll be given a number, and this number will decide what kind of place you can buy. The possibilities are endless and it’s hard not to start day dreaming about your perfect home when you get that number.
Once you get over that giddy feeling, you may start to feel a twinge of panic. For most people, that is a big fucking number. A significant proportion of your life will be spent working in order to pay off that number. If that doesn’t freak you out to some degree, I’d read that loan agreement again.
But that feeling eventually fades. Maybe it’s you getting used to the anxiety or maybe you realize, that your money is better spent (and enjoyed for a longer period of time) if invested in property rather than hoarded away in a savings account, used only to pay for the therapy you need to deal with living with your parents (or in self-defence lessons and a deadbolt against that slightly creepy roommate you split the rent with).
Cold feet are totally normal
Is this a good idea? Do I really need a place of my own? What if I buy somewhere and it’s a lemon and starts to fall apart the second I put the key in the door? What if I make the wrong choices on the interiors and my friends are too polite to point out that my place is hideous?
All these doubts and many others will creep in at some point. And they are not all baseless – buying a home is a big decision and there will be setbacks along the way. Dealing with them is part of becoming a grown-up and more often than not, you will get more help than you think.
Take a breath and remember why you wanted to take this step in the first place. Chances are, those reasons are still very valid
You’re going to be asked some really personal questions
How much do you weigh? When did nannu‘s diabetes set in? How often do you travel every year? All of these questions come up during your health insurance application, which is mandatory when you take out a house loan. You will need to pee in a cup and disclose any and all conditions that you and your immediate family may suffer from. It’s invasive but at least it’s over quickly.
The budget you set is not your actual property-purchasing budget
It’s always gonna be a little lower. When this whole thing started, you did some math, crunched some numbers, cried, and finally came up with your budget going forward. In theory.
Notarial fees, bank fees, architect’s appraisal – before you know it, you’ve already spent a couple of grand from your savings account on what seems like just paperwork. You will have spent quite a bit before even getting the loan itself. This is normal. Getting a little twitchy every time the bank’s number shows up on your caller ID? Also normal.
You will never have all the documents you need
At least not all at once. Transferring property (and money, by extension) is no small matter, regardless of how easy Konrad Mizzi makes it look. So it’s in your and the bank’s interest to make sure all bases are covered. This means forms, applications, certificates and other miscellaneous documents that you will need to track down, photocopy and submit.
Be prepared to show up with a stack of papers and then be told you need something else. Deep breaths.
You will unconsciously start to prioritize your expenses
Suddenly you start to look at every purchase in terms of the bigger financial picture i.e. your loan repayments. So while that life-size, diamond-studded porcelain Dalmatian would look freaking awesome in your new hallway, you may find yourself thinking about what else a couple hundred euro might buy instead – some tiles need replacing, you need an air conditioner or a new mattress.
There will always be things that need doing around the house, whether it’s an old build or a new one. Which brings me to…
Small victories are where it’s at
It’s an uphill struggle to get your home-owning dream off the ground. There’s no point beating about that bush. And once you actually land the property in question, along with the heavy burden of debt, the climb doesn’t stop.
Any home, even if it’s brand new, will need attention. Your to-do list grows almost every day as you discover things that need replacing, repairing, upgrading or removing. Which is why is feels like such a massive win when you finally get down to scraping that fleck of paint off the skirting tiles. Or changing that light bulb. Or the workmen show up on time. Or buying your very own welcome mat. These little things mean so much more when you’ve poured so much of yourself (and your future earnings) into the project. Savour them. They may be small but they are what makes this whole ordeal worthwhile.
That, and being able to walk around naked any time you like. You can’t put a price on that.