Veterinary nurse and social media influencer Alice Parr, 32, bought her first property, a flat in Edinburgh’s Merchiston, after over a year of searching for the perfect place in just the right location.

Almost three years after getting the keys, Alice has lovingly renovated her flat and created a space that truly reflects her personality and interests. Here, she shows us around the space that she’s made into her ideal first home.

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What was your criteria for your first property purchase?

I always wanted an older property – I love Edinburgh flats for their character and period features. As well as that, I had very specific criteria for the location of my flat – having rented in Bruntsfield for 10 years, I really wanted to stay in the area, but I couldn’t afford the Bruntsfield price tag. I started looking at smaller flats in the surrounding areas that fit the criteria, and when a property in my price range and desired location became available, I would view it immediately.

What was your property search experience like, and how did ESPC help?

My search ended up taking just over a year. I viewed nine properties, and bid on three that I missed out on, before finally getting this place. Before I started looking, I remembered a friend saying she would check ESPC daily for new properties until she found her place, so I always knew I was going to use it to find my flat.

I used ESPC’s email notification feature, adding the street names of where I wanted to live, and then I got an email notification every time a property was listed, so I could be very on top of what was happening in the market.

That’s great to hear. Did the email alerts help you to find your flat?

Yes! I’d gotten an email notification on the Thursday when this flat came up for sale, and I called the agent and booked a private viewing for the Saturday, ahead of the open viewing the next day. It allowed me to view on my own, take my time and build up a rapport with the seller. I ended up asking them if I could make an offer before the property went to closing, and they were thankfully open to the idea. I’d lost out many times before, as well as finding out I was the second-highest bid multiple times with previous flats, so I was getting disheartened with the process.

On the Monday morning after the viewing, I made an offer to the seller to take the flat off the market, and they accepted!

How exciting for you! How did you know it was ‘the one’ for you?

I viewed this property and one around the corner on the same day. They were both in my ideal location, and had almost identical asking prices, but this one felt more private. It had a small garden, only accessible to residents in our building (instead of a communal garden for four tenements to share), and this one had a kitchen with a large window, whereas the other one’s kitchen was internal. The flat needed a lot of work, and I viewed it on a really dark and rainy day, but I could instantly see its potential and visualise what I could do with it.

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How did you get started with making the property feel like your own?

Everything needed a good coat of paint to begin with! I also changed the carpet in my bedroom before I even moved in, as there was mould growing underneath it. About six months after I moved in, I renovated the kitchen and replaced the floors in the hallway, kitchen and living room. This hugely helped with draughts, as I invested in decent insulation and floorboards that completely sealed any gaps.

If I were to do anything else to the property, I’d change the bathroom. It works perfectly fine, but it isn’t fully to my taste.

Three years on, what’s your favourite thing about your home?

I love that every room has a big window, no matter how small the room! It brings so much light into the property.

What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned since renovating your home?

Spend as much as you can afford on longer-term items. I regret buying a cheap couch from IKEA as soon as I got my keys, as I thought I would need it immediately. I ended up not even using my living room for the first four months, as I had no other furniture or a TV! I should have waited and saved up during that time for the couch I really wanted, as I’ve now replaced it anyway. You can save money on smaller furnishings instead – I bought my coffee table and side tables from a second-hand furniture shop for £5 each!

What advice would you give to fellow first-time buyers?

Add your desired locations to the ESPC email alerts – it definitely helped me to get ahead of other buyers when this flat came up for sale.

You can follow Alice’s home renovations on Instagram @thepaleopeach.

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This article originally appeared in the February 2022 issue of the ESPC magazine. Find out more about the ESPC magazine and read the latest issue. 

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