It has been quite some time now since I last published something on Captain Finance. The reason being: our property project. It was much bigger than we had anticipated. Regular life and working on the apartment left absolutely no room for anything else. But with the apartment now successfully renovated, a lot of time is freed up that will also be reflected in the publication frequency on Captain Finance.
In honor of the apartment, you will get to enjoy a series on property buying, renovation, and investing. We will start the series with our personal odyssey, move on to things to watch out for when getting into properties and will continue our property investing journey to flipping a property and the awesome financial and life benefits deriving from property investing.
But let’s start at the beginning:
An odyssey of property investing
Oh dear, you wouldn’t believe what a journey this has been. The last few months have been one upward battle. First it all appeared like a fantastic idea, a dream come true, suddenly it turned into a nerve-wrecking struggle. After years of renting, Mrs. CF and I decided to buy a property. Even though this is Captain Finance, the decision was not exclusively financial – in fact there are reasons for renting instead of buying, though I generally prefer buying over renting –but also romantic.
“What da …,” you might now shout, “romantic reasons? They have absolutely no place in finance and investing.”
I am with you all the way. For that reason the property we sought needed to serve as both a home and an investment. For these reasons we were hunting for a renovation project in an up and coming area.
An exciting property project
When we signed the contract for our new home we had, however, not anticipated the hassle and nerve-wrecking times that lay ahead. And indeed upon finding the property and signing the securing pre-contract, we felt exhilarated.
Immediately following securing the property with our estate agent, we set up a meeting with the mortgage advisor, made the appointment with our trusted craftsman, and explored the various appliances and DIY stores. In fact, all that was left to do was to sign the final contract at the notary, hand over the money, and the home renovation project could commence. At least so we thought.
A mortgage turning sour
One early morning I received a phone call from Mrs. CF. The bank had emailed – a full two weeks later – that they had forgotten to ask for some documents. I understand that things can go wrong; although they shouldn’t when dealing with “professionals” who deal with mortgages all day long. But a full two weeks before realizing that a very simple mistake had been made? The reason why they could not process the mortgage application was that they had forgotten to ask for a document, a copy of our IDs. A fact that took their headquarters to point out, as the “specialist” had missed it.
This is similar to installing a shower and forgetting to put in the missing link: the pipes. Wouldn’t you first check that even the most basic things are in order before asking your client to sign and sending it off to headquarters?
The wasted time was most demoralizing.
But if things don’t fully go to plan, there is only one way forward: put them right. We immediately reacted, sent copies of the required documents and waited for the bank’s reply.
A missing link – a pay slip
In addition and to avoid any other issues, we asked our “personal mortgage advisor” to be kept in the loop if anything else was to arise. No news for days. When two weeks later, and after numerous unanswered emails and calls, we finally managed to get her on the phone, we were flabbergasted. Not only did our bank advisor forget to keep us up to date on significant developments, she also saw no need to inform us that our mortgage application was put on hold, because … wait for it … she had again messed up. This time, she had forgotten to ask for a copy of our income statement.
Isn’t that one of the first and easiest things to check in the initial meeting? Just ask your client to bring a copy of their pay slip.
We immediately contacted our regular bank that, thankfully, employs more competent staff and the necessary papers were with us in no time. We again sent off the copies to the mortgage lender.
Asking for a down payment
Surely, everything would be fine now. The bank would process our application and we could quickly sign the final contract. After all, we repeatedly asked the mortgage advisor whether she was entirely sure that she now had all documents. This was in the seventh week after our initial meeting and we were still waiting for the money to sign the notary papers.
But some seem to take a different approach to professionalism …
Another email, another request. This time a full four weeks later. The mortgage advisor had forgotten to ask for a paper from our regular bank that proved that we did indeed have the money for the down payment.
Let me recap, after forgetting to ask for IDs, a copy of our income statement, she had now realized that it might be useful to check that we indeed had the money for the down payment.
Anyway, if you have a goal and a dream, don’t get discouraged; just keep on pushing forward. We complied and sent in the additional papers.
The final stage
After twelve nerve-wrecking weeks we were finally approved for the mortgage.
Throughout all of this we had to push back the appointments with our tradesman, the notary, almost lost out on the apartment as the seller became impatient, and needed to change our holiday plans and those of our families who kindly offered to help with the renovation. The summer that was supposed to offer some relaxing time was spent renovating the apartment. But as it is now finished, it was all worth it. We have turned our dream into reality.
How was your property buying experience? Did you have similar experiences?