‘Planning in advance is most definitely the key’

A couple pose for photo in front of their new home.

St Neots based estate agent offers advice to first time buyers. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Simon Bradbury, managing director at Thomas Morris Estate Agents in St Neots, on considerations for first time home buyers. 

What are your thoughts on shared ownership schemes?  

I think they are an excellent opportunity for people who want to get onto the property ladder, however they might not be ideal for everyone, because some people are tied to the idea of owning the whole thing.  

Shared ownership is as really good way for people to experience what it is like to own a share of a property and then increase their equity in the years ahead.  

Can you haggle on price?  

Currently, there is no doubt that we are experiencing a sellers’ market. 

That said, a first-time buyer can absolutely negotiate. They are in a fantastic position to be able to make an offer and proceed quickly.

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If selling swiftly is a requirement for the vendor, then first time buyers can be particularly attractive. 

In that case, the buyer might want to look at making an offer. However, this comes with risks for the buyer. If they put in an offer that insults the seller, it could kill the sale.

First time buyers should also always remember that estate agents act in the interest of the seller, and not the buyer, and so shouldn’t view the estate agent as a neutral broker.  

What are your top tips for first home buyers? 

Firstly, research is everything. 

Just before you’re ready to buy, make sure you look at all the local estate agent to get a sense of prices and what you can get for your money.  

Make sure you speak to a mortgage broker as well. 

This is absolutely critical, because you shouldn’t rely on family or friends for such important advice. 

A broker will advise you on what mortgages are out there for you and therefore your budget.  

One you’ve researched and spoken to a broker, get out and have a look at properties – even if you’re not sure they are the right property for you. 

This is to give you experience of viewing and analysing property and speaking to estate agents as well.  

When you find a property you like, view it at different times of the day so you can assess it well and work out things like if it is quiet or busy, or if the neighbours are noisy. 

If you visit at just one time of day, you won’t get all the information. 

If you are looking to live in an area that you are unfamiliar with, use social media, in particular Facebook and Twitter to find out what the location is really like.  

What mistakes do first time buyers often make? 

I think the most common mistake for first time buyers to make is not doing enough planning. 

Sometimes the buyer will think they want to buy on the Monday and expect to move in on the Friday.  

I would start planning six months ahead of when you intend purchase, so you have all the information, and the financial and legal side of things are ready. 

That way, if you come across a house you want to buy, you can put in an offer that is credible. 

Planning in advance is most definitely the key. 

Any other considerations?  

It’s important that first time buyers are looking for a home and not just an investment. 

All too often, buyers see buying a property foremost as an investment. 

Maybe that is part of the picture but they also need to look at their lifestyle and work out what the property offers in terms of this, rather than just thinking something will be a good investment.