GETTING gazumped on a house can be infuriating as first time buyers Meg Trinder and Alex Williams nearly found out.
But the couple ended up bagging their £187,000 home anyway and it was nearly £13,000 under the asking price.
If you've been gazumped, it means that a rival bidder has put in a higher offer than yours for a house – and it's been accepted.
This year has left many budding buyers bristling after reports of gazumping have been on the rise.
Demand for homes soared during the pandemic, fuelled by the stamp duty holiday before the relief ended in October, meaning Brits have been making tempting offers to sellers to bag a property.
Meg, who works at charity Women's Aid, and Alex, who works at Waitrose, were nearly one of hundreds of Brits who had their offers rejected in bidding wars up and down the country last year.
They narrowly missed out on their home when a higher bidder knocked their £180,000 offer out of the running for the house.
As the property was listed on the market for £199,950, the seller went for a higher bid which was nearer this price tag.
Not giving up fully on their dream home, the couple kept checking in with the estate agent on the sale's progress.
They spotted their chance to swoop in for a second time when they found out the deal had fallen through a few weeks later.
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Determined not to see the house slip through their fingers, Meg and Alex put in a higher offer of £187,000.
Although this was higher than their initial bid, it was still £12,950 lower than the asking price.
Keen to do a quick deal, the seller agreed – and the couple bagged their first home at a bargain price in August last year.
They were lucky enough to live with their parents to help save cash on rent – as they lived there for free while they were saving.
They also put themselves on a tight budget for their home, raiding their bills in order to slash costs on unnecessary spending on subscriptions like Amazon Prime.
Meg even took up a weekend side hustle, running freelance music therapy sessions to bag her an extra £1,750 to put towards the deposit.
The Sun sat down with the couple to see how they bagged their dream home for the My First Home series.
Tell us about your home
It’s a three-bedroom end of terraced house with a bathroom upstairs and a toilet downstairs.
It has an open plan living and dining room, kitchen and a conservatory and front porch extension.
Our backyard is paved and split over two levels, we have a shed too, a small front yard and off-road parking which was a real bonus.
We were lucky to get this size property for the price it was.
The previous owners had taken good care of the house but it was outdated. They’d lived here for around fifty years so it needed some work.
With money left over in our budget we decided to invest it into renovating what we could.
We stripped all the walls, had the living room re-plastered and put new flooring down.
Although we hadn’t planned to do the bathroom we found a leaking pipe in there so we decided to renovate that room too. We painted everywhere and had the electrics rewired.
We did consider buying a shiny new-build, but we’re really hardworking and determined so we thought if we set our minds to it we could make this house our own.
We managed to do the whole renovation in eight weeks.
We were so lucky to have the support of family helping us. Even my grandparents who are nearly 80 years old were pulling tiles off the wall in the bathroom and doing the grouting.
We spent around £8,000 on the renovations – we only hired an electrician, a plumber and a plaster because our family helped us a lot, so we saved thousands of pounds.
How did you decide on location?
We were looking for a house in the centre of Abergavenny as it was important to us to be close to family.
We didn’t think it would happen though because Abergavenny is a desirable place to live so we thought we’d be forced to look further away.
This house is five minutes from Alex’s parents’ house and the same distance from my parents and grandparents so was ideal for us.
We could also see ourselves being here for a long time. It’s got everything we need and it’s in a nice, safe area with links to schools which is good for job prospects for Alex, who trained as primary school teacher.
Another winning feature was the view of the mountains from every window in the house – we love the countryside.
How much did you pay?
The house was on the market for £199,950. Our first offer of £180,00 was rejected when the sellers accepted a higher bid from a rival buyer.
Then we heard the deal had fallen through so we went back and offered £187,000 – which was accepted.
It was like we’d been given a second chance and it was meant to be. We were lucky that we had our deposit saved so we were in a position to bid very quickly and make the most of the small window of opportunity we’d been given.
Our offer was accepted on August 6 last year, not that far into the pandemic, and at the time there really wasn’t much choice if you needed a mortgage deal with just a 10% deposit.
HSBC was the only lender offering mortgages at 90% so we chose a 35-year mortgage at a five-year fixed rate at 2.46% which gave us a monthly mortgage payment of £623.
We considered Help to Buy mortgages but we didn’t like the idea of having to pay interest on the equity loan in five years so we decided to wait and save a bigger deposit.
How did you save for it?
We started our Help to ISAs off with the maximum deposit of £1,000 each and then started saving £200 each month.
We’ve never been big spenders, but we were so focused on our goal that we made even more effort to save.
We sat down and made a budget, trying to see which outgoings we could slash – by cutting out all non-essential spending we were putting away an extra £600 a month each – tripling our savings.
We did this by slashing our bills and putting our hobbies on hold.
Saving over the pandemic was a lot easier, however, as staying in helped us save more.
Alex swapped his dentist package cutting the cost from £18 to £8 a month, which saved him over £120 a year.
He also quit his £32 a month phone contract and used an old handset of mine on a pay-as-you-go contract, paying just £10 every four months. That saved him hundreds of pounds a year.
We also cancelled our Amazon Prime subscription, saving us £7.99 a month.
My commuting costs vanished because we all had to work from home for the majority of 2020, saving me £250 a month.
We share a car, even though we desperately want to buy a new one. But going halves on the insurance, tax, MOT and cutting out finance costs for a new one saved us at least £600.
While I was doing my psychology degree I worked 28 hours a month across three jobs which helped me save the initial £1,000 to go into my Help to Buy ISA.
I also received an academic bursary of £1,000 which went towards my deposit.
Living at home with our parents was a real help too. We both gave our parents money for bills but we were probably saving around £500 month between us, compared to what it would cost to rent a place of our own.
Doing a side job on the weekend also helped me to save £1,750 more towards the deposit. I did freelance music therapy sessions which earned me around £250 a month extra.
I also sold items on Facebook Marketplace such as shoes I hadn’t worn, old books, a headboard, and the old light fixtures we removed, making more than £250.
How have you furnished it?
To get started we borrowed some furniture from family. We had my mum’s sofa until we bought our own on finance and my grandad lent us a coffee table that he built out of tiles when he was a child.
I’m a real fan of Facebook Marketplace, I’m always on there looking for a bargain so a lot of stuff in our house is from there.
My best bargains were picking up a pair of John Lewis bedside tables for £25 that sell for over £100 each brand new, and a grey oak sideboard we got for £30 which costs more than £200 full price.
I also snapped up a £20 John Lewis bookcase that should have been £125.
The previous owners left lots of things behind too, like beds and mattresses, which we used until we could afford to buy our own.
What’s your advice for other first-time buyers?
Do your research. When I went into the mortgage meeting with the broker, I already knew the interest rates I could get and I knew what we could afford to pay a month.
It made us feel more confident and self-sufficient.
I’d also say lean on your support system. We didn’t have any financial help buying the property but we did have so much support from our family.
We asked for their advice and Alex and I were honest with each other about what we enjoyed about the process and what concerned us.
Listen to your gut. We knew what property we wanted, we trusted each other’s point of view and we stuck to our guns.
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