30 October 2016

My Top Tips for the House Buying Process

I never thought it would be easy when it came to buying a house, never mind the fact that it'll be our first house. Even though we haven't actually officially bought our house yet we have still had some experiences which I thought would be quite useful to share with you guys, just in case you're in a similar situation or plan to be in the future.

1) Compare Mortgages and find the best one for you - Check out the various comparison sites and find the one which is better suited to what you're looking for; don't forget to keep an eye out for those extra fees as we managed to get a mortgage with nationwide with no additional costs, so they definitely are available!


2) Research into Conveyancing solicitors of your own - When doing some research online before starting the home buying process I found out that you can actually go through your mortgage provider to hire a conveyancing solicitor which would probably be a lot easier, but you would most probably have to pay extra in comparison to hiring your own conveyancer. We were quoted just above £900 for a solicitor from nationwide but managed to get a highly recommended solicitor for just £730 (don't forget every bit of extra money you have can help towards buying that beautiful sofa, or like in my case maybe even a dressing table!).


3) Obtain an agreement in principle/decision in principle from your mortgage lender - This is a very important step as it shows both the estate agent and your chosen solicitor that you can actually pay for the house, plus gives you peace of mind that the bank are actually willing to confirm they will lend you the money you need.


4) Get a home buyers report  - We put an offer in on a property we had fallen head over heels in love with; the interior of the house looked absolutely beautiful and everything seemed to be in such a great condition, however all was not as it seemed. The house was valued at a whopping £6000 less than what we had offered, the chimney was bulging (and could collapse at any minute), both the house and extension roofs needed completely redoing and there was damp throughout the house in the main walls - and they were just some of the issues with the house! So, we reluctantly withdrew our offer much to the dismay of our estate agent who seemed overly persistent in his attempts to get us to move forward with the purchase (and in fact was pretty rude in doing so too!). Without the report we would be stuck with a property needing thousands of pounds of work doing to it, so I would 100% recommend getting it done or of course a more in depth survey. 

5) Ask the seller lots of questions - Why they are looking to sell? Have they had any major work done to the property? What are the neighbours like? This will help you to get a general idea about the property and area which is essential when considering whether or not you want to pay out thousands of pounds for it. 

Hope this helps with your house buying journey!

S
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27 October 2016

Tanya Burr Cosmetics: Big Kiss & Pink Cocoa Lipsticks



Tanya Burr recently introduced six new lipsticks in her Autumn 2016 cosmetics collection - Big Kiss, Pink Cocoa, Central Park, Wild Safari, Happily Ever After and Birthday Cake which range from deep red through to bright pink through to a subtle nude. The lipsticks are packaged in a shiny gold casing which definitely adds the feel of luxury to the £6.99 product. I was able to pick up two of the six shades during the week of release - Big Kiss which is a beautiful deep red shade and Pink Cocoa which as you can imagine is a stunning pinky-brown shade.

I have to admit I am a huge fan of both lipsticks. They have everything I want in a lipstick - extremely moisturising, light on the lips, highly pigmented, and the perfect sheer shades for my pale skin complexion. I often find it hard to find the perfect lipstick as most dry out my lips far too quickly even when applying lip balm before hand, however with Tanya's creamy lipsticks I don't even need to apply anything beforehand. I've found that the colour tends to last really well (despite the fact that I had been stuffing my face full of Chinese food) with only a single reapplication needed during a day/night out!

 I would highly recommend giving this product a try, and fingers crossed Tanya will bring out a larger range of shades soon! 

S
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23 October 2016

The Beauty of Berlin








Germany is definitely a country that I had always wanted to visit, and this year felt like the perfect time to finally go. It was mine and Andy's seven year anniversary back in August so we thought heading away for a couple of days would be a great way to celebrate. Berlin itself is absolutely beautiful, there are so many things to see and do and considering neither of us can speak a word of German we managed to navigate the city pretty well. We stayed in a pretty central location at the Radisson Blu hotel which is right next to the Berlin Cathedral, making it the perfect spot for exploring the city by foot.We managed to get around all of the 'touristy' places on foot during our three day visit which definitely added to the whole experience i'd say. 

If you're a fan of architecture then Berlin is definitely the city for you with buildings such as the Reichstag, the Charlottenburg Palace, the Berlin Cathedral, and even the TV tower.  But of course it is a great place for tourism too with places like Museum Island, Checkpoint Charlie and the East Side Gallery to explore, and monuments such as the Brandenburg Gate and the Jewish memorial to visit. 
 I'd say the two places that stood out the most for me were the Brandenburg Gate and the Jewish memorial. This may sound a little silly on my behalf but the Brandenburg Gate was a lot bigger than what I had imagined, I mean its hugeee! I wanted to wait around until dark so that we could see it lit up, and i'm so glad we did as it was pretty damn impressive. If I could have one of those in front of my house instead of a normal front gate, not going to lie I probably would. We also had the chance to visit the Jewish memorial which was absolutely breathtaking, its a simple yet touching monument dedicated to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust. It felt quite eerie as we were walking through, very much like a maze full of headstones but well worth a visit. 

Have you ever visited Berlin? 


S
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20 October 2016

The Stages of Buying A House

Buying a house is no walk in the park let me tell you. We had many, many house viewings before we thought we had found 'the one'. Sadly that wasn't the case as we had to pull out after having the homebuyers report completed; cutting a long story short the chimney stack was falling down and roof needed completely redoing (yep, the alarm bells started ringing when we saw that as there was no way we could afford the repairs). Thankfully we were able to pull our offer, and continue our search. We found our house a couple of weeks later, we had put an offer in on 2nd February 2016 and all legal work was completed for 26th May 2016, for a move in date 1st June 2016 - and we've been living happily ever after since!
This post is basically a summary of the stages we went through for the purchase of our house, 
Baring in mind I am no expert on the house buying process, I am simply sharing my experience of the process. 


The Stages

Find out how much you can borrow from the mortgage lender - Obviously this is quite important to do before you start your search so that you know what your price range is. You don't want to be looking at houses worth millions when you can only borrow £100,000!

Start your house search - This can be both really fun and really daunting. We must have looked at over 20 houses before we found ours. Stay strong people, you'll find it eventually!

Get an agreement/decision in principle - Basically this is a statement from the mortgage lender stating they are prepared to lend you the money for the house. You will need to obtain an agreement in principle to prove to the estate agent that you can actually afford to purchase the house once you have put an offer in. 

Put an offer in - For me this was the most nerve wracking, yet exciting part. We had to email our offer to the estate agents who then passed it along to the seller. As you can probably tell we were eagerly awaiting their phone call to tell us they'd agreed on the price. Our offer was subject to survery, meaning we wanted to purchase the house but could pull out if required depending on the results of the survey. 

Find a conveyancer (solicitor) - This is basically your legal representative for the whole process. They will deal with all of the paperwork side of the purchase, and will complete all of the relevant searches on the property. 

Have a survey completed - I couldn't stress the importance of this stage enough. This was an essential step for us during both attempts at purchasing. Thanks to this report we had found the faults of the first house before we had purchased it, and were able to pull out before landing ourselves with thousands of pounds worth of debt. The report on the second house (or our current house should I say) has given us an idea of what we need to get looked at over time, and has allowed us to get some problems fixed already. 

Finalise the mortgage application - This part involves its adding in all of the important information such as your employment and outgoings information, the estate agents and conveyancer's contact details, and bank account details for the person who will be paying the mortgage. 

Fixtures and fittings report - This is a form which will be filled in by the seller and sent through the solicitors for you to look at. It is basically a list of all of the fixtures and fittings within the house - it will state what the seller is taking with them, what they are leaving for you, and may even feature some items that they are offering up for sale (of course you don't have to purchase them!)

Legal Searches - This is the stage that took the longest to be completed for us, it must have been at least 2 months to get everything back. Searches included a land registry search, water and drainage search, local search, a flood risk report (etc... I'm guessing you catch my drift, all really interesting documents!). Of course the searches are really important for the purchase of the property, but I guess we all get a little impatient sometimes. 

Paying deposit and solicitor fees - Yep, so that big chunk of money you've been saving for what seems like forever.. send it right over to the solicitor! I have to admit it was a sad moment to see it go, but a bit of a relief to know we had nearly finally made it to the end of the process. 

Exchanging Contracts -  The most important stage of the process. Finalising all of the details and signing it all off. We surprisingly received the contracts for the house in the post to sign and send back. I was fully expecting to get called in and have to rush down after work one night to have a big meeting with us on one side and the seller on the other, but no. A simple signature and we were home owners! Pretty great if you ask me. 

Get the keys and move in! - Breathe that big sigh of relief because you can finally settle in to that wonderful new home of yours! I've got to admit it is a pretty great feeling knowing you actually own a house. I will never forget my first night staying here - sleepless, lying on the floor with no internet, food or lights for that matter, but I felt right at home. 

I hope this helps with your understanding of the whole process if you're looking to buy!

S
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16 October 2016

Meet My Guinea Pigs!


If you read my 'A Fresh Start' post then you'll know that I recently got two beautiful american guinea pigs called Rex and Spud. I've never had pets before so you can imagine my excitement when we finally went to pick them up. Rex (who is the larger tri-coloured guinea) appears the be the more dominant of the two, stealing the food and absolutely loving any attention he gets. Spud (who is the smaller brown guinea) on the other hand is the complete opposite, hes very shy and scurries away at the sight of us entering the room. I have to admit its been a bit of a learning curve finding out what they can eat and can't eat, trying to litter train them (yes who knew that was actually a thing!) and getting used to those little squeaks, but I definitely couldn't ever go back to not having the little guys around. 

S
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13 October 2016

Zoella Beauty Scooper Dooper Bath Soak


I'm a huge fan of the original Zoella Beauty scent (the others not so much), so when I heard she was bringing out some new products for the collection I knew I just had to try them out. The weekend arrived so off I went to raid my local Superdrug for the products, but to my dismay they were nowhere to be seen... they had sold out already. You can imagine how saddened I was by this. So sad in fact I had to place an order online instead, and even had to treat myself to some of Tanya Burr's new lipsticks to cheer myself up (every cloud has a silver lining!).

From the newest additions to the Zoella Beauty collection, just the one of the products caught my eye which was the Scooper Dooper bubble bath, I mean who isn't a fan of bubble baths on cold autumn and winter nights?! Priced at £7 for 400ml, the bubble bath itself is thick in consistency, and has the wonderful scent of the original collection with extracts of vitamin e, aloe and shea butter. 
I must admit I am quite the fan of scooping up the bubble bath, running it under water and watching the bubbles appear, it seems somewhat therapeutic in comparison to the usual bottle squeeze of imperial leather bubble bath. I found that the product made my skin feel really soft and moisturised, and of course I was ready for the land of nod after feeling so relaxed! My only issue with the product was that the scent seemed to disappear once the bubbles had formed, which is rather disappointing as i'd love to be able to bathe and inhale the aroma of the product at the same time. 

I have to say I don't think I will be repurchasing this product as it's slightly overpriced for what you get out of it. If you're a huge fan of the scent like I am then I would definitely suggest picking up the Soak Opera shower gel and the Creamy Madly Dreamy moisturiser as they both leave a lasting scent on the skin, and combined only cost £3 more than the Scooper Dooper bubble bath. 

S
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9 October 2016

A Fresh Start.


'Believe you can and you're half way there' - Theodore Roosevelt

Having a fresh start in life is something I definitely believe in. Negativity can take hold, and have quite the effect on your day to day life. I've had my blog for about two and a half years now, starting off in the world of beauty and venturing into the odd fashion post or two - however more recently I've distanced myself from blogging entirely. The posts I used to love sitting and writing for hours became forced, and I started to separate myself from the blogging community as time went on. After moving house, and having a couple of months off sort myself out, I've decided to throw myself back into it. I'm completely starting afresh with a brand new outlook on life - starting right here with my blog.

Things have changed quite a bit for me over the past few months as I've moved into my first house with Andy my fiance, and we have two new additions to our family (Rex and Spud our beautiful American Guinea Pigs). Owning a house is definitely one of the most wonderful/stressful things that can happen to you, but the positives definitely outweigh the negatives for me. I have a dressing table for all of my beauty items to be stored in/on, I can leave my perfumes out in the open without fear of my family members using it, I can leave my clothes all over the place and not have someone moan at me to move them, I can sing my 80's favourites as loud as I want in the shower and not feel ashamed for doing so, I can have pizza three nights in a row and not even batter an eyelid.
Life is great, and so are you.

S
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