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Lover: Janxiety stopper number 5: Burgers, banoffee pie and buying houses with boyfriends

There ain't no therapy like retail therapy. One way to beat the January blues (I realise it is technically February now but the goings on of this post happened in Jan) is definitely to hit the January sales, ignore the looming credit card bills from Christmas and help the transformation into the better, shinier, new you of 2015 become a reality by buying lots of better shinier patent leather brogues/ sale price designer handbags/ leopard print faux fur coats (insert your purchase of choice here). Or if the ASOS sales don't do it for you, you could just make the biggest buy of your life and get a house. Talk about retail therapy.

I say buy a house but really I mean buy a flat. And when I say buy a flat, I mean make an offer on a flat and get it accepted.

As it turns out this is definitely not the be all and end all. There are still plenty of hurdles to jump over, even if you are a first time buyer and don't even have to worry about selling your property first. Really this post should be called "Burgers, banoffee pies and putting offers in on flats, and attempting to get a mortgage despite my constant overdraft use" but it didn't have the same ring to it.

I have listed the 4 massive house-buying no nos I've made, and ways not to make them towards the end of this post, but as a delicious meat patty between the boring seeded bun that is house buying I thought I'd tell you a little a bit about how Will and I celebrated our first mortgage offer in principle (that we then turned down). We headed to Hache, the London burger joint which began in Camden, and has now sprung up all over town.

Cos yep, Will and I are buying this flat together. Which does seem like a pretty big deal, considering we have only been together 3 and a half years, lived together for one and I am pretty confident he has no plans anytime soon to put a ring on it. And I am not pregnant, just to clarify. Some of you will probably read 3 and a half years, and think that is plenty of time, some will think it is very quick.

For Will and I the decision to buy together wasn't just cos we love each other, it was partly practical. We'd looked at buying separately within our budgets, and we could only afford what appeared to be ex crack dens on A roads in zone 4 of the tube, and so we decided to pool resources and buy a pretty 2 bedroom flat which is nice with a garden, in a lovely part of zone 3.

Some people, including one of my best friends who is getting married, has pointed out that it takes longer to get out of a joint mortgage than a marriage. I can sort of see what she means, but my rationale has always been that if I broke up with Will, and met some new person in 2 years time and had to explain I was renting out a property I still owned with my ex, that would seem a lot less odd, than if I mentioned I was divorced. For me, marriage is standing up in front of everyone you love, and saying I know I want to be with this person forever. Buying a flat is more like saying, I love you and I want this to work forever, and therefore I am going to bet on our future life and invest in it. Still a big deal, but for me not as much. (And Will and I are going to be sensible and see a lawyer who will draw up what happens if we break up, to make sure we both get out what we put in. How romantic).

Anyhoo, back to the burgers. Hache was quite a last minute choice, made when exhausted by panicked phonecalls to mortgage brokers we decided we needed wine, and couldn't cook. After looking into various Shoreditch establishments bursting to the brim at 7pm on a Thursday, we settled on Hache. Plenty of tables and no wait, but not eerily empty. I wasn't expecting that much, I mean I was expecting wine and a burger so I knew it would be pretty fabulous, but oh my giddy ants Hache burgers are amazing! (And I am someone who on Wednesday ate a bacon cheeseburger with deep fried macaroni cheese in it, so I really do know burgers. (That one was ok, at All Star Bowling Lanes, the meat patty let it down)). In short, I know burgers.

To date, my top burger in London is Five Guys - not the cutesiest burger place, but lovely moist, flavoursome burgers. But maybe, just maybe Hache has come along and topped it...

Inside Hache is quite cute with lots of fairy lights and angel wings. The staff are really attentive and the service is quick. Their menu is sort of "burgers around the world" which I was a bit sceptical of as I am not a fan of Fire and Stone's "pizzas around the world" - I don't like food genre mixing - but I ended up going with the Bavarian burger and boy it was good.

Buying houses means you cant afford haircuts even when you desperately need them...

It was topped with Bavarian smoked cheese which would always make it a winner for me (I've been known to carry those tubes of 70p smoked processed cheese in my handbag for a pick me up when I am out and about) but it was so much more than smoked cheese. The brioche bun was perfection, the steak burger was just the right amount of greasiness and just so scrummy that you would have been happy to eat it by itself, but that it was smothered in cheese and fried onions just made it a dream.

For pudding I had their banoffee pie which they recommended for 2, but it was so good I finished it all by myself (and I was so drunk I didn't take photos, sorry).

If you want to read on about the mistakes I've made whilst buying a flat, then please do. If you don't cos you are not buying houses and don't want to read advice about credit searches and limiting your glittery nail varnish outgoings, then that is ok too, though not to sound like your mother but you might appreciate it one day.

I am only a teensy way through the buying process, but here are some mistakes I've made so far, and what I've learnt so far:

1. Good grief get on your electoral roll and move all your bank statements and everything to where you live now.
According to TSB, only 21% of people check they are on an electoral roll before applying for a house. We knew we were on one, but because we weren't on one of the property we've been living in for 10 months, we were rejected by one mortgage provider. It all totally makes sense in your head, if you are only somewhere temporarily and if there has been nothing to vote on, why bother? But getting on the electoral roll is the easiest and cheapest thing to do on this list and loads of banks actually will reject you for being on one which isn't where you currently are renting. Similarly, all my bank accounts (as well as my voter's roll) were registered at my parents because it seemed safer but loads of providers don't like that, so as annoying as it is, move your bank accounts around with you, or at least move them to your current address at least two months before buying a place.

2. Stay out of your overdraft - even if it's interest free.
Some people are obviously very good with their finances - they never touch their overdraft, pay off any credit cards in full every month and use barely any of their agreed limit. They are going to get a mortgage easy peasy. I am not that person. There are also other types of people: people who miss credit card payments, take out payday loans and go over their agreed overdraft limit. Thankfully I am not that person either, because it is tricky to get a mortgage in that position. I am a bit of a middly person. I pay most of my credit card off, most of the time, and I never go anywhere near my limit, but I am perfectly happy living the last few days (/2 weeks) of the month in my interest free overdraft. Maybe this is a thing left over from student days but as it turns out, banks hate overdrafts, and they'd rather see you having balance on your credit card you haven't fully paid off than dipping into yours. Obviously for 3-6months before you apply for a mortgage cut back on spending, but when push comes to shove prioritise staying out that overdraft rather than paying off 100% of your credit card.

3. Know the difference between hard and soft credit searches
When you apply for a mortgage in principle, some banks do a hard credit search and some do a soft one. A hard basically means it shows on your credit score, a soft means only you can see it. If you have hard credit search and you get declined then it shows on your credit score like a big no no for all the banks that follow. If you are thinking of applying for a bank which does a hard credit search (some banks and almost all building societies do) then just make sure you check all of their eligibility criteria properly first, even if you are working with a broker. Not all banks are the same, some might be ok with you being on an electoral roll at your parents, some won't. Some will overlook missed credit card payments and payday loans that happened over 3 years ago, some won't. Make sure you fit the specific bank's eligibility criteria before applying for a hard search, and do a bit of googling. Are people moaning online about how they've been declined? Then that provider might be a hard nut to crack.

4. Get organised.
 Even if you are just sussing out the market and are going to pick a solicitor and bank/mortgage broker later, just do it before you even start looking. You'll know better what you can afford, you might have more time to rectify mistakes 1&2 and it means if your dream property comes up you won't have to make loads of big snap decisions in 24 hours. Like we did.

I am not going to tell you how much it costs to buy a house, cos I just do not want to know how much I have already spent on mortgage application fees, solicitors and surveyors, basically the answer is shitloads, but below is how much a night at Hache burger will cost:

You can book a reservation at Hache here.

Yum. Another scrumptious meal out in the east end at Story Deli... Lover: Pizza at Story Deli

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