Top 10 things to know before buying your first home

Top 10 things to know before buying your first home

Property The Guild of Professional Estate Agents 12th April 2016

So you’ve taken the leap and made the decision to buy your very first home. While joining the property market is exciting, it can also be expensive, and it definitely pays off to do your research. These top ten tips will explain some of the key elements of becoming a homeowner that it’s important to be aware of.

Get your finances in order
It’s important that you get your finances in order as your credit score will have an impact on your mortgage options. Make sure you pay all your bills on time and avoid making any bigger purchases around that time. Speak to a professional to get advice about how much you can afford. Don’t forget that there are lots of other costs attached to buying a property, such as solicitor’s fees, stamp duty and home insurance. When these all add up, you might reconsider the price range of properties you’re viewing.

Take the time to decide what you want

Take time to view different properties and create a list of what you want your new home to include in the process. Divide your wish list into must-haves and things you can compromise on. This will help you to avoid making hasty decisions and get you thinking in detail about your ideal home. Be realistic though, and ensure your list is appropriate to your budget.

Be flexible

Whilst it’s good to have a list of do’s and don’ts, it’s important to remain flexible. You could miss out on a perfectly suitable home because it’s located three miles out of your desired area or the bedroom doesn’t have a walk-in closet. Be open-minded when viewing different properties and think outside the box – with a little creativity you can do some wonderful things with the décor of a house or the look of a garden!

Get to know your local agents

A good agent should be well-informed and able to answer questions not only about the property but also the area you are moving into. Cast your net wide and visit a number of agents in the town. Make sure you meet them face-to-face and explain in detail what your requirements are - this will make them remember you and think of you when a suitable property comes on the market. Also be proactive and keep an eye on newly listed properties on their website and different online portals as great homes tend to get snapped up quickly.

Are you willing to invest in renovations?
Unless you’re specifically looking for a project, buying a property that needs renovation might not be the right step for you. Purchasing a fixer-upper can be a risky investment and you could end up with a money pit. If you do decide to buy a home in need of work, it’s advised that you get a thorough inspection to get a realistic overview of the property’s conditions. If possible, opt for an examination after a rainy day that will assess the state of the foundations and basement.

Learn more about your prospective home
So you’ve found your dream home and you’re eager to make an offer. Before you progress to the next step, make sure you learn as much as you can about your prospective new home. Find out how long it has been on the market, ask to see the utility bills and hire a surveyor to inspect the condition of the property. It’s a good idea to get to know the neighborhood as well to get a feel for the area. Is there a convenience store nearby? What schools are in the catchment area? What is your local pub or café like? These are all important aspects of day to day life that might influence your decision to make an offer.

The price of the property is rarely set in stone and the vendors are often willing to negotiate. If the property needs some work or your surveyor revealed any defects, use this as an argument to agree a more affordable price. You can use your estate agent to do this for you, however, as a buyer you will be the one making the final decision and should be in control at all times.

Get a good solicitor on board
Search for the right solicitor, someone trustworthy and someone you can rely on to work hard for you. Usually, you get what you pay for and this is definitely not the time penny pinch. As a first time buyer, you will most likely need someone more experienced to manage Stamp Duty charges, dealing with Land Registry and drawing up and explaining contracts. Avoid using the same solicitor as the sellers to minimise the possibility of a conflict.

Don’t feel pressured
Buying a house is possibly one of the biggest purchases of your life so it’s important you take time when making important decisions. It can sometimes feel like you’re under a lot of pressure to buy straight away but if you don’t need to move immediately then shop around. It’s likely you will be living in the house for years to come and it’s essential that you feel comfortable and happy in your surroundings.

Try to stay sane in the process
The whole process might take longer than you originally anticipate. It’s a good idea to focus solely on house hunting so you don’t overwhelm yourself. Juggling other big decisions, such as organising a wedding or planning to have a baby, whilst buying your first home can put a huge strain on your life and take all the fun out of the process. Buying your very first home is a big step in every person’s life and should you be remembered fondly.

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