Up For Sale

Having just done a random search, I’ve found out that the house in Norfolk I had with Herself is back up for sale.

It’s kind of weird, seeing the changes that have been put in by the new owners – some make sense, and are things we’d talked about doing. However, others are – somewhat mental.

As a prime example of the latter, the new owners have brutally trimmed the cherry tree in the front garden, and completely removed the huge weeping willow that was in the back garden. (and was one of the factors that made me like the place)  I can see why they would have got rid of it – it was a pain in the tits to mow around, and dropped crap on the grass all year round – but it was such a fantastic tree, I’m actually kind of sad to know that it’s gone.

Interestingly, despite the work the new owners have obviously done, the price isn’t actually any different than we paid for it six years ago.

Progress, eh?

It’s Time – Part Two

This post follows on from the one yesterday (Imaginatively titled “It’s time – part one”) about mortgages and overpayments…

So yes, the mortgage deal we’ve got allows for overpayments, and I’ve got some ideas on getting those overpayments under way. And basically, it all comes filed under “Get your damn finger out, Lyle“. Or, as the title of the post says, “It’s time.

Which means that while we’re away, I’m going to have spent some time writing some spec letters to companies, pimping myself and my company. Once we get back, they’ll get printed out and go in the post. Then it’s the fun of following up on the letters, and seeing what work I can get.

At the same time, well, it’s time for me to get back to contracting. I don’t just want to go back to it, I need to. Sure, the current place might provide stability, but it’s driving me a) crackers and b) homicidal. I need to change. I need to work on changing back to a situation I’m happier in, and bringing in extra work for myself.

And then there’s also the writing and photography. I need/want to make more of those things if I can. I don’t know that the photography will ever be a money-spinner – it’s a crowded market, to say the least – but I’ll do what I can, either with commercial-based stuff, or with a couple of other ideas that might just make money through photography in other ways. And no, I don’t mean porn.

In short, it’s time. It’s time to get my finger out, to get back to the way I used to be, and to sort my head and life out in that context.

It’s time.

It’s time – Part One

While we’re taking a break, the redone mortgage will (hopefully) be wading it’s way through the paperwork mire. We did all the application guff a couple of weeks back, signing up for a 5-year fixed-rate deal which looks to have been pretty much the best option for us. No fee, no transaction charge, and an OK interest rate.

We’re also changing lenders – Nationwide weren’t able to provide us with anywhere even close to the best deal – plus their valuation calculator is so wildly wrong in our case that it’s just about unusable. So we’re moving on.

The interest rate we’ve got isn’t as low as the base rate- but we never expected it to be. However, it’s a rate we’re happy with, and it lets us know what we’ll be paying between now and 2014, regardless of what interest-rate idiocy goes on between now and then. And that works just fine so far as I’m concerned.

We could almost certainly save ourselves a bit of money by just making some payments at the SVR rate, but I feel much happier with having the fixed-rate deal sorted out, and making the payments based on that. After all, when the rates go up – and they will – there’ll be a ton of people currently paying on the SVR rate who suddenly try to apply for a fixed-rate deal, at which point I’d lay money on the lenders immediately upping the charges for those deals.  So I’m happier being “stupid” (according to a couple of people I’ve talked with) and doing what we’ve done.

The other part of the deal is that we can overpay – and overpay by a significant amount each year – the mortgage. And that’s something I’d very much like to take advantage of.  I’ve written before about how I find the mortgage debt is something I’m very aware of so I’d be a lot happier to be paying off over the odds, and reducing the interest paid by a significant amount at the same time.

I’ve some ideas for how I’m going to work on the overpayments – but that’s a post for tomorrow.

Mortgage Motivation

Over the years, many people have told me that it’s more sensible to have a mortgage than to keep on paying rent. Rent is, supposedly “dead money” – you’re not getting anything for it (except another month living in your property of choice) and you’re just helping to pay off the landlord’s bills.

Finally, two years ago, I jumped off the bridge, and got a mortgage with Herself on this place. Since then we’ve been doing a lot of work on the place (as any vaguely regular reader of D4D™ will know) and that side of things is all going OK. Of course, the fact is that on that score rental is easier – if something needs doing, you call the landlord or letting agency, and it gets done.

For me though, while I’ll continue on with the mortgage, I’m discovering that it has a far more negative effect on me than I’d be happy with on the real long-term.

I find that the knowledge of the amount of the mortgage keeps coming back to me, that it’s kind of a mill-stone. I don’t want to lose it, I don’t want to change it – but I’m constantly aware of it.

Maybe it’s that I’m a late-starter on the entire house-buying front, that if I’d been doing this since I was twenty-seven then I’d be used to the knowledge of the debt by now. (and I’d be nearly halfway through paying it off, which would help too!)  Maybe over time the awareness of the debt faades a bit. I don’t know – I’ve only been doing this for two years, after all.

I don’t want to have the mortgage for the full term of it – the plan has always been to overpay whereever possible, and by as much as possible within the terms of the mortgage, although over the first two years we haven’t been able to do that at all (mainly due to me being a slack-ass, and not doing the necessary extra work through the aforementioned lack of motivation) but the intention is still there for the next mortgage period.

And that’s the balance I need to find, too – between the awareness of this (to me) sodding huge millstone of debt and the desire to reduce it as much as possible.

After all, there’s no money more “dead” than the interest I’m/we’re paying to the fucking bank. Paying back 2½ times the amount borrowed? That’s “dead money” indeed.

Mortgage Guff

It’s nearly two years now since we bought the current house, and the fixed-interest period is coming to a close. So it’s back to the grind of renewing the mortgage.

As part of that, we had a meeting last night with an IFA from the same company that sorted out the mortgage last time. We’ve also contacted another IFA who was recommended by friends, but the useless git hasn’t got back to us at all. Makes you wonder whether he actually wants the business.

Still, it’s all looking like we should be OK this time round, so we’ll see how it goes.

Last Year

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been a year since we made an offer on the house we now live in. (In fact it’s slightly over the year but I only looked back and confirmed it this evening)

This time last year, we were actually meeting the architect for the first time, to discuss our plans for the extensions and so on – and now we’ve finally had a quote from the builder to cost out those self-same extensions, so we can start to get things going soon. Happy Day.

2007 Review

In a lot of ways, 2007 has been a very long year – yet in others it seems to have raced past.

It’s been a year of many changes too – just before 2007, we moved to Norfolk, and now we’ve bought a place there too. So two moves in thirteen months, as well as doing the initial preparation on the new place (and continuing to do other work on it since moving in) and the work on the garden, and getting a mortgage for the first time, along with a whole bundle of bits that make me look a whole lot more grown-up than I did this time last year. Oh yeah, and three chickens.

Along the way, I’ve managed to stay in the same workplace all year, but also done a whole bundle of work for smaller clients, which has (in general) gone really well, with the exception of payment hassles from one client. But all told, a busy and fairly successful year, which will be the foundation for a lot of work in 2008. I’m going to be changing main workplaces in 2008 as well, but that’s something for another post.

During the year I’ve also bought my first car, and already added 15,000 miles to it – and there’s already a lot more driving planned for 2008, including a trip to Ireland in June, which reminds me, I must check my car insurance policy at some point and double-check the mileage on it, as well as the cover for non-UK driving. Still, that’s something for Jan 2nd, or sometime soon after.

It’s been a busy year, and I think 2008 will be busier – but hopefully a bit calmer at the same time. Lots of things to do, but the plan is definitely to have more leisure time (or at least time to get out and do other stuff) too, so let’s see how that goes. I’m vaguely optimistic…