Buying your first home is a very exciting life event.
Whether it’s with the love of your life, a friend or on your own, the process can be challenging but extremely rewarding when you finally get the keys to a property that’s all yours.
It might be an old build that needs a lot of work or a built-to-order home where everything is brand new.
So what are some top tips to take with you when buying a property?
Work Out If You Can Afford It
With it being a lot harder to buy a property in the current market, you want to make sure you’re able to afford the process that comes with purchasing a home.
It’s not just the deposit you have to think about but any additional costs such as solicitors fees which can be considerably costly.
If you go into this knowing you can’t afford it. You’ll be wasting not just your own time but the time of the estate agents and lenders you approach.
Lenders will generally recommend you don’t go for a property that’s more than three to five times your annual income but you should also know yourself whether you can afford the repayments with your current lifestyle.
You may have to make a few sacrifices, but the satisfaction of owning a home outweighs the negatives.
Draw up a budget of how much the down payment on a property would cost, an estimate on any legal fees and any additional funds you’ll need for furniture if you haven’t already got it.
Get Prequalified For A Mortgage Before You Start Looking
You’ll be surprised by the number of people who find an estate agent and start hunting for their property before they’ve even been prequalified for a mortgage by a lender.
Sure you might have the funds available for the down payment, but if you have a bad credit score or high outstanding debts, no decent lender will want to offer you a mortgage.
Even if they do, you’ll probably be paying a lot more back on a monthly basis than you can afford.
You’ll need to provide financial information at these meetings to determine what the lender can offer you.
Again, this will vary depending on who you go with so shop around before settling with one.
Bring along with you any wage slips, bank account statements and W-2 statements as this will be needed for the lender’s reference.
Finding An Estate Agent
Next up is picking an estate agent. Now you can approach as many as you like but it’s recommended to stick with up to five maximum.
Any more and your phone will be ringing off the hook. You’ll need to have researched the particular areas of where you’d like to live as there’s a number of estate agents per town and city.
Once you’ve found an area you like, start looking online and outside estate agent windows to get an idea of what types of property they sell.
Some may do the usual whereas others may pick more bespoke or unusual listings. It’s your preference to what property you want to live in so do some shopping around before you choose.
Make sure you know what you want in a property so that you can give the estate agent a detailed list.
This will make their search easier and reduce the amount of properties you see.
An estate agent will likely show you a variety of properties both under and over your budget, so always refer back to your initial budget plan to make sure you don’t say yes in the heat of the moment.
House Hunting Tips
Searching for a house is one of the most anticipated moments of the entire process, but you don’t want to fall too hard when you start viewing the properties.
Of course, you may find that the first home you step into is the one you can see yourself living in, but it’s always best to see a few before making the final decision.
And this bit of the process is different for everyone, some may find it after their first viewing, and some may take twenty to thirty viewings before they’ve found the right property for them.
When viewing a property, it’s good to listen to the estate agent as they reel out the specifications.
But you want to ask as many questions as possible and have a good look around the property yourself to check certain criteria. Here are just a few to get you started:
- Ask them about the area, particularly when it comes to crime rates, local schools if you have children or are starting a family, and what the neighbours are like.
- Question anything you don’t understand. Estate agents can use a lot of jargon and this can be quite confusing for anyone who doesn’t sell properties.
- Check the water pressure and how long it takes for the water to run hot. Check the state of the white goods in the property and ask how much of the property is furnished if you don’t already know. You could save yourself a bit of money on furniture if the seller decides to leave it all behind.
- Open and close doors to see if they work correctly, check the walls and floor for any signs of damp and inspect both interiors and exteriors for any visible damage. It’s always worth getting a home inspection to cover any potential issues that you can’t see, especially as you’ll be responsible for fixing it. The house inspector will look for any signs of structural damage and anything they do find. It can be worth asking if the current owners can fix it.
- Compare the property price with the values of nearby homes within the area. It’s always nice to get a bargain, but you don’t want to find out later that you’ve overpaid for a property that’s not worth what you paid for.
Get A Solicitor
It’s good to have a solicitor to process all the legal stuff and to also take care of liaising with your lender to ensure a smooth completion.
When you’ve decided on the property, you’ll need to put in an offer. Always start off lower than your maximum, just in case it gets rejected the first time around.
Lenders will also provide an appraiser to give an independent estimate on how much the property is worth. It will be a third party company, not directly associated with the lender, that tells both sides if they’re getting a good deal or not.
This part is probably the most nerve-racking for both parties as those purchasing the property could fall through if their finances weren’t right or if they had second thoughts.
The same could be for the sellers, and they could always go with a different offer from another buyer.
Once it’s all been accepted, the paperwork will come in thick and fast. Each document is very important to read thoroughly and digest.
Don’t sign anything until you are sure that you understand it.
Depending on the lender, it could take a few days for your loan to through, but once the check has cleared, you’ll be given a handover/move-in date to enjoy your new home!
Buying a property is a serious venture, so you need to be certain that you can afford it, that you love the property and that it’s worth the money you spend on it.
It’s a big loan, but it’s worth it for all the incredible memories you’ll make in your first property.