HOUSE HUNTING IN EDINBURGH: WE’RE LOOKING FOR A NEW APARTMENT!
As I mentioned a few months ago in this post, we’re on the hunt for a new apartment! We moved to Edinburgh in November, and since then we’ve been staying in a furnished, rental right on the Royal Mile. We always knew were going to buy, but chose to rent for a few months first because 1. We needed to build up a bit of UK credit before making any kind of offer and 2. We weren’t able to visit Edinburgh before moving (hello pandemic) and wanted to get a feel for the neighbourhoods and what life would be like before buying. And now finally after almost 5 months of living here, we’ve been cleared with the bank and have officially started the hunt for our new home!
We owned our apartment in Sweden, and the process for buying was pretty easy since it was a new build. No bidding, no renovations… we made a few changes while everything was still being built and were super happy with the results. We knew things would most likely be different in Edinburgh, and we were actually a little nervous about the prospect of buying during a pandemic, but so far we haven’t had any problems (fingers crossed it stays that way!). All home viewing are scheduled one-on-one, so there are no open houses, and since we’re both working from home it’s been nice to have the flexibility to go to a quick viewing in the middle of the afternoon. Another thing we were a little worried about was the availability of places for sale, and wondering if people were still wanting to sell right now. So far, we’ve seen over 15 properties, so I’d say it hasn’t really been an issue. Many of the properties for sale that we’ve seen are actually Airbnbs or rentals that people are wanting to sell.
We’ve seen quite a lot of properties at this point, have put in a few notes of interest (more on that below), and are hoping to have a place secured soon!
Curious to know 5 things we’re looking for on our house hunt? Keep scrolling!
Since we won’t have a car, finding an apartment in a central location is a must. We want to be walking distance from work, friends, neighbourhoods, and the coffee shops/restaurants we love. Lucky for us, Edinburgh is an extremely walkable city, with great public transport.
2. To renovate or not?
Unlike in Malmö, where new apartment buildings were in abundance, Edinburgh is an old city, filled with old buildings. And while there are a few newer places on the market, the majority of places to buy are in 100+ year old buildings. While I personally love the old world charms that come with these Georgian buildings (think crown moulding, tall ornate ceilings, grand fireplaces, bay windows), many of them need updating – a cost that needs to be taken into consideration. We’ve decided that we’re willing to renovate a kitchen and bathroom if needed, since we’ve noticed that these two areas are the ones that are usually in need of some love. We will also most likely need to update or redo the flooring, since Scots seem to love carpet and that’s just not our thing.
3. Is it listed?
As I’ve mentioned, many of the buildings in Edinburgh are over 100 years old, and are listed for their special architectural or historic interest on behalf of the Scottish Government. The aim of listing these buildings is to protect or enhance their special character, and this often means that certain aspects like fireplaces, crown moulding windows, etc. put in before a certain date are protected – meaning you can’t change them. Definitely something to keep in mind!
While Stockbridge is known for being one of the most desirable locations in Edinburgh, we’ve also been looking in areas like New Town, Bruntsfield, and Morningside. These three neighbourhoods are a bit closer to the centre than Stockbridge, and can be less expensive. There are some really beautiful areas in all these neighbourhoods, and we would be happy in any of them!
5. Will they accept our offer?
Buying and selling property in Sweden was fairly easy and straightforward, so we were in for a bit of a surprise when we found out how things work in Scotland. Here’s a super basic rundown: Essentially if you want to purchase a property, you need to have a solicitor. This solicitor will be the go-between you and the property owner’s agency. Once you see a place you like, your solicitor will put in a “note of interest”, letting the agency know that you’re interested. If the property goes to closing (more on that in a sec), they’re required to let you know so that you have a chance to bid. Basically, a note of interest makes it so you’re informed about whatever is happening with the property. If you want to put in an offer at this point, you can. Once you put in the offer, negotiations can take place if the owner wants more, has other people interested, etc. The owner can accept your offer at this point, OR it can go to closing, meaning that everyone who is interested in the property can put in a number (the highest they would be willing to pay), and basically whoever has the highest bid wins – no negotiations. This form of blind bidding means you could miss out on a property by a small amount that you might have been willing to pay, without having any idea 🤷♀️
Oof. It’s been a looooong few weeks of looking at properties. A lot of work, but I feel like we’re at the point where we pretty much know what we want. Envisioning a life in every single place we go to has been a bit draining emotionally, but I keep telling myself there’s no rush and the right place will come to us. We’ll be putting in an offer in the next few days, and I’ll be sure to keep you updated (fingers crossed it works out! 🤞). But in the meantime, share any home/apartment buying tips you may have below!