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What first time buyers need to know

Buying your first home is probably one of the biggest decision you’ll ever make, so don’t go into it with your eyes closed. There’s so much to think about, we thought we’d put together a list of a few things you should consider before taking that first step on the property ladder.


Make sure you can afford it

You might feel that your life is in the right place for you to buy your first home, but your finances need to be in the right place too. If you’re not sure, use one of the many online Budget Calculators that are available. It will give you a realistic picture of where your finances are and maybe highlight some areas where you can cut back.

Don’t forget all of the costs that are associated with buying… the deposit, stamp duty, legal and removal costs, survey and mortgage arrangement fees and buildings insurance to name a few.

Save save save!

Start saving for a deposit as early as possible. The bigger the deposit the better mortgage rate you’ll get. Sitting around and saving may not feel as exciting as searching out properties, but it will serve you well in the long run. More and more first time buyers under 30 are getting help from relatives. Parents can act as guarantors for a mortgage or reduce monthly payments by paying part or all of the deposit. If it’s an option, then go for it!

Finding a mortgage

With so many different deals out there, choosing the right mortgage can be daunting. Which option is best for you will depend on a number of things, including whether you want the security of a fixed monthly repayment or willing to go for a variable rate. This may be cheaper at first but it will get more expensive if interest rates rise. Do some research yourself but it’s a good idea to talk to a broker too. It’s best to prepare your documentation in advance though since lenders like to see your last three years’ address history, with no gaps, your last three months’ payslips and your last P60 form or three years’ accounts, your last three months’ bank statements , and full details of any loans or credit cards you have. Having this information ready from day one can speed up the process.

Do your homework

Once you’ve signed up to local estate agents and registered on national property websites, when you find something that you like don’t let your relief at finding something that meets your budget get in the way of other essential factors. Choosing the right location is still as important as choosing the right property so consider transport links, schools, leisure facilities, shops and green spaces.

Making an offer

Once you’ve found the perfect property, you’ll need to make an offer through your estate agent. If the seller agrees to the offer then the buying process can go ahead. You‘ll need to arrange a survey to assess the property for any potential problems. There are three types of survey to choose from:

  • Condition report. The cheapest and most basic survey, it tends to be used on conventional homes or new builds. It doesn’t include a valuation or investigate possible future repairs.
  • Homebuyer report. More expensive and thorough, this examines both the inside and outside of the property and includes additional valuation.
  • Building or structural survey. The most comprehensive option, this is more suited to older or unusual properties like converted barns.

If the survey shows any problems you’ll be given an idea of the costs involved to fix them. At this point you might decide to renegotiate the price with the seller or pull out of the deal altogether.

No two First Time Buyers’ experiences will be the same but, so long as you go in prepared, the process needn’t be that stressful. And the feeling of owning your first home will more than make up for it.

If you’re considering a buy-to-let property, our guide to tenancy agreements is perfect for first time landlords.

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