Going from tenant to buyer

After renting for a long period, finally being in a position to buy your own home can be a dream come true.

But becoming a homeowner brings with it a whirlwind of emotions and can be one of the most stressful things you do. It's a big step financially, too, but if done properly, buying a home can help provide you with a sound financial future.

Before deciding if buying a home now is right for you, take a look at Parkers' guide for first-time buyers below - these are our six top tips for first-timers considering that maiden purchase.

Am I better off buying or renting?

While renting unquestionably provides a level of flexibility home ownership cannot match, getting on the property ladder can enable you to create wealth for your future.

Of course, in a rented property there is also less 'worry', with your landlord covering major repair work. But your own home can be made to feel 'your own'.

Rent money is also money for someone else's mortgage, whereas paying down your own home loan each month sets you on the path to owning your home outright. In a rising market, you'll also make profit from the property's rise in value.

It's also worth bearing in mind that mortgage payments are very often less than a monthly rent payment, so you could have more money left from you wages to spend on other things.

Tip one: top up your deposit if you can

In order to buy a home, you will need a deposit. We're assuming you have one, or have started saving, as you are reading this piece!

Generally, you'll need at least 5% of the property's purchase price as a deposit. So, if you are buying a flat in Reading for £245,000, the average price in the town last year, you will need £12,250 as a deposit.

However, if you can save more than 5%, you will be far better off. Not only will you need to borrow less as a mortgage, you will also be offered better interest rates from your lender if you have a large deposit.

If you can save 20%, you would be purchasing the property at 80% loan-to-value (LTV) and there would be a marked difference in the rates offered.

Tip two: Make sure added costs are in your budget

Buying a home is an expensive business. And that's just the purchase price!

There are many other costs that need to be considered you should factor these in when working out your budget for your first home purchase.

  • Stamp Duty: First-time buyers currently pay 0% Stamp Duty on the first £300,000 of properties worth up to £500,000.
  • Survey costs: This largely depends on the type of survey you are having. We would always urge buyers to have a survey on the property they are purchasing, which can cost between £150 and £1,500 depending on the size and the type of survey wanted.
  • Solicitor's fees: Solicitors generally charge between £850 and £1,500, plus VAT, and the solicitor will pay themselves on completion of your purchase.
  • Removal costs: Many people choose to move their belongings themselves, but considering the average cost of hiring a removal company comes in at around £600 for a two-bedroom flat, it can be money well spent. This can increase to around £900 for a three-bedroom house and if you want the company to pack your things as well, add another £250-£300 on top of that.
  • Mortgage arrangement and valuation costs: The cost of these can vary depending on the lender, although they can often be tagged on to the mortgage itself.
  • Other costs: When you move into your new home, you'll almost certainly want to decorate and furnish it - factor in these costs. Also consider insurance policies for buildings and contents - buying a home costs a lot of money so it makes sense to protect your investment against damage and your belongings against theft.

Tip three: Is it affordable?

Buying a home is an emotional process and sometimes your head can be left behind your heart when it comes to key decisions.

You need to be as sure as your mortgage lender that you are able to afford the cost of the repayments.

Remember your circumstances could change or interest rates could rise. If these changes happen, could you still afford to pay the mortgage?

Make sure you have a ceiling in your budget and stick to it.

Mortgage lenders will almost certainly perform a 'stress test', taking changes in circumstances into account, when considering your application.

Tip four: Check and double check the property

As said before, emotion can play a huge part when viewing properties for the first time. It's very easy to get caught up in the vision of how a property could be turned into a dream home without checking it is in good order.

Here it can help to take someone along with you on viewings - perhaps a family member or a tradesperson you trust.

Here are some crucial things to look out for when viewing properties for the first time:

  • Signs of damp
  • Cracks in the walls or ceiling
  • Roof with missing tiles
  • Noisy neighbours
  • Old style electrics
  • Signs of rot on wooden windows
  • Poor water pressure

Tip five: View the property at a different time of day

It can be lovely viewing a property in the middle of the day, with bright light flooding into the interior. It will also almost certainly be nice and quiet as everyone else in the street is at work!

Parkers recommends a second viewing at a different time of day, preferably in the evening when everyone is home from the office.

It will give you a different perspective on the home and the area around it before you make any decisions.

Tip six: Be firm with your budget

With purchasing a home involving such a huge amount of money, you must set yourself a budget and stick to it.

It's very easy to allow yourself leeway which doesn't exist in a bid to secure a property you have fallen in love with.

Searching for a home is an emotional time and if you desperately want a particular property, the chances are someone else wants it, too.

But don't be tempted to blow your budget in a bid to see off other suitors.

Accept that someone else may be in a stronger position than you and move on.

Your local branch of Parkers can offer help and advice on the current position of the market in the area you are looking to buy in.

If you have any questions about the buying process, speak to your local Parkers branch who will be happy to help.

Contact local branch

Request a Viewing

You can request your viewing slot online. Simply choose your property and select “Book Viewing”

Find out how much the property you are buying is worth

Get your FREE Hometrack Valuation Report now. These reports are relied upon by most mortgage lenders and normally cost £19.95