Being a first time buyer is the most exciting, terrifying & stressful thing at the same time. Once you get the keys to your own first home- it’s the best feeling in the world.
Just a quick recap on our first time buyer story. My husband & I had been dating for about a year when we started to look for a house to buy. Renting kind of went out of the window due to me having Mr Cooper. Not many places like to rent to people with dogs & they increase the deposit & rent as well. At which point, we were about halfway to a deposit for a house. Overall, we viewed probably about 4-5 properties, before putting our offer in on our first house. We stayed well below our budget of what we could afford & made sure we knocked some money off the asking price. We were very excited when our offer got accepted! The whole process for us took from Mid-October to end February- when we finally moved in. So… you have to be patient!
Ok, let’s jump into it. (These aren’t in any particular order)
Tip 1 – Budget
If you are reading this, that means you are already on your way to become a first time home owner & are doing your research. And I’d assume that you have already played around with some of the online mortgage calculators to see what you can borrow. If not, here is a link to Santander one- link here. All banks will have their own, so if you don’t want to use Santander, check out your banks mortgage calculator. It will also have other articles & guides that will be helpful.
Ok, but what I’m trying to say is that, before you really dive into putting any offers in, you really need to go & have a meeting with your bank. They will go through all the details, any other extra costs you might not have accounted for- this will be more in-depth & accurate account of what you will be able to borrow. Plus you will need a mortgage in principle, to put forward your offers.
Mortgage in principle– is a statement from your bank confirming that you are able to borrow X-amount of money.
Tip 2 – Mortgage Advisors
We went with a mortgage advisor for our first time buy, as we thought they would help us, guide us, advise us & help through the process. This was the biggest waste of £500 we’ve ever done. Yes, they got us a mortgage with our bank, but that was about it. They weren’t good at advising us or any other help. So my advice is always- avoid mortgage brokers. I know we had a bad experience & there are plenty advisors out there that are good. But from the bottom of my heart- I cannot advise you using one.
Tip 3 – Be Realistic
As you are embarking on the house buying process, look online & do house window-shopping, it is super exciting. You also need to be very careful you don’t set yourself criteria for your house, that is way outside your budget. Your ideal house you want to end up with (possibly in 5-10 years time), will be very different to what you can afford at this time. So don’t get hung up on ‘I can’t afford to buy the 4 bed, 3 bathroom detached house’ as your first home. Look at what you can afford & be realistic with your expectations.
Tip 4 – Set Your Criteria
When we were looking for our house, we had set criteria that we stuck to:
- Must haves
- Willing to Compromise on
- Not bothered about
And under each you can have several things that are important to you. For example, we wanted minimum of 2 bedrooms, 3 if possible. We had to have a garden & kitchen needed to be decent size with a space for a dining table. Price range & we were willing to do DIY & fix the house up. If you get too overwhelmed I would definitely make the three lists & write it all down. It will make looking for houses much more easier & fun.
Tip 5 – Amenities
We didn’t really take this into consideration when we were looking for our first house, but this became one of the reasons why we were looking to move. And again, this will depend on what you are after & this might not be of importance to you now. I would definitely advise to see what public transport routes are available. If you like to go to a pub, check out the local pubs and other social areas. If you’re one that likes to ‘pop to the shop’ to get a snack, check if you have a corner shop nearby. Maybe you are very much into walking & running- are there enough street lit paths for winter running? Are there parks or woodland walks for you and maybe your four legged friend?
Tip 6 – Solicitors
Just a quick point on this one- shop around & ask your family & friends who they have used in the past & who they recommend. We’ve now moved twice- first time our solicitors weren’t that great, we had to constantly chase them & felt like we were doing their job. Second time we moved- we chose different solicitors & we were very happy with them.
Tip 7 – Submitting your Offer
I think a lot of people will find it strange & hard to not pay the full asking price. The idea of a bit of a haggle, will scare some. But it’s rare when you pay the full asking price. On either of our homes- we either knocked the price off the seller or asked for a discount from the builder. When you are knocking some monies off- make sure you justify it. For example, we knocked money off for windows, replacement boiler & to update the bathroom. If there are works that will need doing/ updating- don’t be scared to research how much that would cost & take the money off the asking price.
Tip 8 – Viewings
Always view the house you want to put an offer in- at least twice. First time viewing- you will be full of excitement and won’t notice everything. Second time you can look into things a bit more. Maybe ask close friends or family member to come with you as well to get a second opinion.
Don’t be scared to ask questions during your viewings. Here are some as examples:
- Is there a management company fee?
- Is there a ground rent (if apartment)?
- What are your rough utility costs per month? (to give you an indication how much it will cost you as well)
- Any parking restrictions/ permits?
- Are you on mains sewers?
- What fuel source do you use for heating?
Tip 9 – Costs
Here is a list of some of the costs you need to allow for as a first time buyer:
- Deposit for the house
- Your solicitor fee
- Searches for your mortgage provider (they will arrange, but there will be a cost), some mortgage providers will give this FOC
- Any surveying you want doing on the property- maybe a plumber to check the boiler & heating system. Any structural damage you’ve seen & are concerned. Maybe worried about wiring in the house. Or anything else.
- Renting a van for moving or hiring removal company
- Any urgent works that will need doing after you moving in
- Service fee
- Stamp duty (Government guidance for stamp duty – link here). This changes from time to time, so check before hand.
- Land registry
Tip 10 – Chase Chase Chase
For some unknown reason you just always have to keep chasing the estate agents & solicitors for updates. Some will be better than others, but it’s always good idea to touch base with them once a week or so.
After all these tips & advice, you are more than ready to embark on your first time buyer home hunting journey. I really hope this has helped answer some of your questions or maybe raised new ones.
If you do have any more questions you would like to ask me- please feel free to add a comment, send me a message through Contact Me page (link here) or drop me a DM on Instagram.
I do hope you find your perfect first home!