So, you’re setting out on your journey to find your first property.
It’s an exciting time, but it can also be one filled with trepidation and uncertainty.
After all, buying a property is the single biggest purchase you’ll make in your life.
There are plenty of things you definitely should do as a first-time buyer, but also a lot of things you definitely shouldn’t.
Here are five do’s and five don’ts when you’re buying a home for the first time…
1. Look for ways you can save money
One way to save big is to get a great deal on your mortgage.
Of course, that usually means saving a larger deposit so you can access a lender’s best rates, but many mortgage lenders will also offer incentives to borrow from them, too.
Keep an eye out for deals with free valuations or free legal work, which can save you hundreds, sometimes even thousands.
Make sure you weigh everything up, though. If a mortgage product with an incentive is on a higher interest rate or requires a larger fee, you may be no better off.
2. Make sure you consider all your costs
A big mistake first-time buyers often make is failing to factor in all the costs associated with buying a property.
When it comes to mortgages, look at the interest rate and the fees so you’re aware of the total cost of your mortgage.
And as with anything, shop around for your mortgage, your solicitor and your removals company – all in all, you could save a pretty penny by spending a little time researching.
3. Check your credit history
When borrowing a substantial amount of money through a mortgage, you want the process to be as hassle free as possible.
So, before applying for a mortgage, make sure you check out your credit score before your mortgage lender does.
Often it can be simple things that raise red flags when mortgage companies run credit checks – like an incorrect address or no voter’s roll registration.
Head over to one of the credit agencies online, like Experian, who can give you access to your credit report for a few pounds.
If your credit history has seen better days, you can take steps to improve it before applying for your mortgage.
4. Get a cost breakdown from your solicitor
Once you’ve found a good solicitor and instructed them to undertake the conveyancing on your purchase, ask for a detailed breakdown of costs – and don’t forget to make sure they include VAT.
Also, be clear on what your solicitor will do for you as part of their fee, because the last thing you’ll want is any additional costs for unforeseen circumstances during your purchase.
5. Get your paperwork in order
As you might expect, buying a home requires a lot of paperwork.
And if yours isn’t in good shape, it can really hold up the buying process.
Standard paperwork you’ll need access to includes:
- Bank statements
- Utility bills for proof of address
- Photo identification
Have all of the above to hand so you can provide it as soon as your lender or solicitor requests it.
It will keep the sales process moving and help you get closer to that amazing day when you receive the keys to your first home.
1. Go for the cheapest solicitor or conveyancer
More options are available to home buyers than ever before, from online estate agents to internet-only conveyancers.
These services are often cheaper than traditional high street agents and solicitors, but cheaper doesn’t always mean better.
Compare the price of a cheaper online solicitor with one on the high street and weigh up the pros and cons of each.
Make sure you get plenty of recommendations, too, and get enough quotes for a good comparison.
2. Get confused by valuations and surveys
Your mortgage lender will undertake a valuation of the property you’re buying as part of their lending process.
That’s because they want to be sure the property is worth the money they’re lending you.
However, a lender’s valuation is not the same as a survey – despite many first-time buyers thinking it is.
A survey is for your peace of mind and Parkers would always recommend you have one carried out when buying a property.
It will highlight any issues with your property’s structure and condition so you can make an accurate judgement on how much the issues will cost you to fix.
3. Offer more than you can afford
It’s very easy, when you’re a first-time buyer, to get carried away in the emotion of buying a property.
And if you fall in love with one in particular, there’s always a temptation to blow your budget to secure it.
While many buyers will stretch their budgets from time to time in order to get the house of their dreams, doing so can impact first-time buyers more.
It could mean you straying into a higher loan-to-value bracket, which could affect your mortgage rate and cost you more money in repayments.
4. Be scared to chase your solicitor
If you’ve spent time researching solicitors, there’s a good chance you’ve picked one that works quickly.
But not all of them do, unfortunately.
Remember: You’re paying for their service, so if you feel they are going a little slow in getting your purchase over the line, chase them up.
Do it politely, of course, but a phone call once a week to assess where they’re at should be standard if they’re not communicating regularly with you.
Often, solicitors will be held up by things like local authority searches, which are out of their control, so always look at things from their side as much as you own.
5. Think too far ahead
Buying a property for the first time should be an enjoyable experience.
So, if you’re already thinking of your next move when buying your first home, it can be tough to simple sit back and enjoy it.
Of course, planning ahead is a good thing and knowing where you want to be in, say, five years is even better.
But property ownership is special and your home should feel part of you, so don’t forget to love it.