Buying your first home is an exciting time, but trying to find the perfect property can also be time-consuming and stressful. After all, this is probably the biggest purchase of your life–no pressure.
So, it’s not surprising, as a first-time buyer, it can be daunting to know where to start.
Here are some awesome tips to help you find and buy your first dream home.
Do your homework
Before you do anything else, set time aside to familiarise yourself with the market. Visit estate agents, go online and find out what kind of properties are currently for sale in the area you want to buy in. Also, look at asking prices compared to final sale prices. This will help you get a sense what you can buy for your budget and what people are paying.
Check your credit score
Lenders use your credit score as a tool to work out if you qualify for a mortgage. It tells them what kind of borrower you are.
Your score is determined by a few factors. These include:
- Your total debts.
- Repayment history.
- Credit you have available.
- Your credit account payments.
- History of Credit searches
- Public records.
Having a high score is a good thing as it qualifies you for various benefits like better interest rate options on your mortgage. If you unfortunately have a low score, it might be worth considering delaying buying a property until it improves.
Have you got a deposit?
The average minimum deposit in the UK is between 15%-20%. According to Halifax first-time buyers are putting down an average deposit of £32,841. But this figure can vary wildly depending where you choose to buy. For instance, homebuyers in London are more likely to pay a deposit of around £100k. In contrast to £16K for those in buying in Wales.
Work out how much you can afford
When you calculate your budget, don’t just include your mortgage repayments. Add up all extra costs. For example:
- Council tax
- Utility bills
- Phone bills
- Grocery shopping
- Store Cards
- General maintenance cost
- Your budget for emergency expenses like repairs
Decide what kind of property you want
Maybe you’ve got your heart set on a city apartment or a semi-detached with a garden.
Whatever your preference, make sure you understand the difference between freehold and leasehold.
When you buy a freehold house, you own both the property and the land which it’s built on.
Leasehold, in contrast, means you only own the property as the land it’s built on belongs to someone else. So, when the lease expires, ownership of the property goes straight back to whoever holds the freehold.
This isn’t normally a problem and shouldn’t necessarily put you off buying a leasehold property. But, it can become an issue if at a later date you want to sell a flat with a short lease (one with less than 89 years left). This mainly because the process of renewing a short lease is costly and this fact alone can put buyers off.
Choose your location carefully
When choosing where to move, there are lots of different factors to consider. For instance:
- Do you want to live close to family and friends?
- How close are local schools, entertainment amenities, family spaces, greenery and shopping preferences.
- Look into local traffic and parking options.
- How accessible is public transportation? How long will your commute to work take?
- What kind of area is it–urban or rural? Is it full young professionals or families?
- Try visiting the area at different times of the day e.g. early morning and late evening to see how different it feels.
- Look up local crime data via the police and local neighbourhood watch schemes.
Only make an offer you’re comfortable with
Once you find a property you like, there’s a pressure to act quickly–sometime too fast. Don’t let yourself get pressured into putting in an offer if you don’t feel ready. Try to go back for a second viewing—this is your opportunity to look for any damage or repairs. And, depending on how much work a property might need, you can factor in the costs in your offer.
Moreover, try to stay rational. If you find yourself in a bidding war, don’t be tempted to go over your budget limit. You risk paying way more for the property than it might be worth. And, this might leave you struggling with repayments later.
Remember, ultimately sellers want to know how qualified you are to buy. So, the highest bidder might not necessarily win if they can’t confirm an exchange date or are in a long chain (making them riskier). So, talk to the sellers, and find out what their priorities are.
Need help selling a property with a short lease?
If you’re struggling to sell a property with a short lease, companies like House Buy Fast will purchase it for cash. They’ll also manage the entire transaction on your behalf quickly and efficiently. So, you’re free to focus on moving.