First time buyers: Ready to purchase your new home? 9 things to consider
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If you’re thinking about buying your first home, check out these top tips for getting on the property ladder.
Buying your first house is an important milestone and probably the biggest purchase you’ll make in your lifetime – but it can be a complex and time-consuming process. There’s a lot to consider, from finding a property that ticks off all the features you want to making sure you’re clued up about the costs involved.
John Sullivan, sales manager at Collison Hall in St Albans, shares nine key things to think about before buying your first home.
Save for a deposit
Before you start house-hunting, you’ll need to save for a deposit of between 5-20 per cent of the cost of the property you want to buy. “I always advise buyers to save for as big a deposit as possible to put you in good stead when looking for mortgages,” says John. He does note, however, that lenders are a little more wary of risk post-lockdown, so it can be worth asking parents for some help if you can.
There are also several government-backed schemes such as the Help to Buy ISA which can boost your savings.
Improve your credit score
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While saving for a deposit you should also get your credit rating in good shape before you start applying for a mortgage. “I suggest getting a credit card at least six months before and start paying it back consistently to get your credit score up. This will show mortgage lenders that you’re a reliable payer,” says John.
You’ll also need to provide lenders with evidence of your income and monthly outgoings, so make sure you get your finances in order and curtail any excessive spending in advance.
Get the timing right
With coronavirus and Brexit ever-present, many people are concerned about whether now is the right time to buy property. But John advises that it’s better to get on the property ladder as soon as you can afford to do so. “Although we don’t know what next year will look like, the market has remained strong and my advice to any first time buyer would be to set down roots and secure a property as soon as possible.
“There are some great mortgages available at the moment,” he adds, “as well as big savings to be made on the stamp duty exemption for properties up to £500,000 until March next year.”
In addition to mortgage repayments, there are several other costs you’ll need to budget for. These include surveys, solicitors, mortgage arrangement and valuation fees, removal costs and building insurance.
“Surveys are especially important to budget for, particularly if you’re buying an older property,” says John. “Full structural surveys can cost up to £1,000, but they are well worth paying for, and it might give you some leeway when negotiating a price.”
One of the most important things to consider when buying a house is the location. If you’re buying in a neighbourhood that you’re not familiar with, visit at different times of day to get a feel for the area.
“Important things to look out for include transport links, crime rates, schools, traffic and what’s being built in the area,” advises John.
Ease of resale
The first home you purchase might not be one you stay in forever, so don’t forget to consider its resale potential. “If it has been on the market for a long time, it’s a sign of how sellable the property is,” says John. Think about why it might not have sold quickly: Are people put off by the lack of parking, the poky garden or the noisy neighbourhood?
While some information is available on property websites, it won’t necessarily tell the full story, warns John. “Websites like Rightmove won’t always tell you how long the property has been on the market for, or if it’s been listed with another agent previously.”
Find a good agent
Finding the right estate agent can increase your chances of securing your perfect property and getting a good deal. “Do your research and look for an estate agent that has an excellent track record of helping people sell and buy houses and has good reviews,” says John.
“There are many online agents out there, but having that face-to-face interaction with someone who has lots of experience and knows the area and market inside out can be reassuring,” he adds.
Ask the right questions
Before putting in an offer, try to gather as much information about the property as possible. “Asking how many viewings and offers the property has had will give you an indication of how popular it is,” says John. “Estate agents are also legally required to inform you about any failed transactions and why they failed.”
It’s also worth finding out what the seller’s onward plans are and if there’s a chain involved. “If the seller is buying another property, ask whether that property is under a chain to give you an idea of how long the process is going to take,” says John.
Always do a second viewing
Second viewings are advisable, especially for first time buyers. “If you’re going to commit yourself to a purchase, it’s important you get a full understanding of the property’s potential and you’ll almost always pick up on things you missed the first time around,” says John.
Pay attention to potential problems such as leaks, mould, dodgy roofs, and find out whether any fixtures and fittings are included with the property.
The team of experienced estate agents at Collison Hall have extensive knowledge of the local property market and can help you with every step of the buying process, from negotiation to completion. To find out more, visit collinsonhall.co.uk or call 0172 784 3222.