Friday, 30 April 2010

Re-mortgage merry-go-round

Two months ago we came off our crazy low mortgage rate onto the standard variable rate, which meant an increase of 6.5x on what we'd been paying. We had our broker on the case to try and sort an improved rate and had a bank valuer over. Long story short - the valuation came in £9K below what we needed it to be. The goal was to prove that the mortgage we'd borrowed was 75% of the value of the house. That magic 75% meant a drop in the interest rate so it was worth pursuing.

£9K isn't a massive discrepency and I'd met a valuer socially who said all banks have a £10K margin of error anyway. Just to be on the safe side we got two local real estate agents to provide comparables - which are examples of similar properties under offer or recently sold in the same (or very near) postcode. We ended up with five comparables plus a statement from the agents that our property was worth at least £40K more than what the valuation came in at.

The bank wouldn't budge and took a leisurely five weeks to let us know. NB we are not borrowing any more money, we have the same sized mortgage as before, we just wanted the better interest rate.

Sod that. We went to another bank. Despite the hasty patch up job on the ceiling the new valuer was a true gent. We showed him updated comparables and a recent quote for our house from Keatons and his valuation came in the very next day £45K more than the last guy.

I can't thank Debby from Keatons enough: we bought this property (and our last one) from Keatons and despite not being able to earn a penny from this transaction she provided comparables twice, and wrote a letter stating her professional valuation of our house to help us. It's not often you can really recommend real estate agents but here's one to contact if you're looking to buy or rent in Hackney!

Oh and with our new valuation, this means that we're able to get an even better rate of interest as our mortgage is now 70% of the value of the property - result :)

Monday, 19 April 2010

A seeping problem

I have what is technically called an ensuite bathroom that I've been using as a shoe storage facility. The water pressure was so dire it was pointless using the shower, but I could stack six boxes up to the roof. In December we got a new boiler installed and at the time the plumber had tested the shower pressure in the ensuite.

Two days ago I noticed that one of the plastic shoe boxes was half full of gungy coloured water. The shower head had been dribbling for the last four months. I pulled out all the boxes, the one pictured below was the worst of them: 18 pairs of shoes were water damaged, 10 were so far gone that they were unsalvageable. My £300 pair of suede Christian Louboutins - which are so uncomforable I've worn them three times - were mouldy. Of all my shoes, these are the one pair I wanted to save (£100 per wear is ridiculous, regardless of comfort).

Unfortunately, moving the boxes meant that the water was able to seep into a broken wall tile and within hours the ceiling in the TV room AND the spare room had both developed ugly brown watermarks.

Rob has now blocked off the leaky shower attachment with a special plug. He's going to do an emergency paint job tomorrow night. We have 48 hours to get it looking reasonable as the bank valuer is coming over for another round - the last valuation was so ludicrous we decided not to pursue a mortgage with that particular bank... great timing, but these things never seem to happen at a good time. It really is never ending isn't it?

Saturday, 10 April 2010

What does it say on the tin?

In September we bought our outdoor furniture set from Ikea. It consisted of an acacia wood table and six matching chairs. I wrote a post about how we found the perfect set, and the driving required to secure it right here.

Within a fortnight of purchasing the table and chairs, I'd covered it with three coats of Ronseal Perfect Finish Garden Furniture Oil (£15 inc delivery). Ronseal's advertising slogan is: "Does exactly what it says on the tin". Upon peering at the packaging on their website it looks like it says "The quickest and easiest way to enhance and protect garden furniture".

As you can see from the photos, it doesn't actually protect or enhance garden furniture. In fact, we probably would've been better off NOT using this product. Within four months of winter weather, the surface started to bubble and lift. The constant rain during February didn't give the wood a chance to dry, so we bought a massive cover for £20 off Amazon. Despite being protected for the last six weeks, the table looks even worse for wear now that the Ronseal has lifted off completely, taking the wood stain with it. The table looks bleached and ancient.

I was expecting to get at least a couple of years before having to treat it again, so having really no more than five or six months is unbelievable. My neighbours (who have the same table and also used Ronseal) have the same problem, though theirs isn't quite as bad as ours. Our chairs are also suffering though not as bad as the table, yet.

We'll be sanding the table down and putting a new finish on it, none of Ronseal's products will be used though. As the table is available in Ikea again for £125 it was tempting to buy another one, but a few hours of elbow grease will sort it out...