Top tips for First-Time Buyers
Know your costs up front.
When you’re saving for your first home, remember that your costs might come to more than just your mortgage deposit and basic legal fees. When shopping around for a conveyancing quote, make sure to confirm that the figure you’re given includes VAT and any extra costs that your conveyancer might have to pay on your behalf. These might be to Land Registry, for example, or for any searches your mortgage lender might require, as well as Stamp Duty Land Tax if your property is worth £125,000 or more. If you’re looking to buy a flat, bear in mind that leasehold properties may incur extra charges.
Choose your conveyancer carefully.
As a newcomer to the housing market, it’s really important that you find a conveyancer who can explain the process to you in a clear and simple way. Purchasing property is a huge legal and financial commitment, so make sure you instruct someone who is happy to answer any questions you have, no matter how silly they may seem. You should be confident that you understand exactly what you’re agreeing to when you sign on the dotted line, and a little reassurance can go a long way. Be wary of faceless online firms whose low fees often seem too good to be true for a reason, and remember that local firms are more likely to have the contacts, relevant experience and knowledge of the area to answer your queries in more detail and see your transaction through quickly and efficiently.
Don’t overstretch yourself.
Shop around for a mortgage to make sure you get the best rates and pay less interest. It may even turn out to be an investment in the long term to hire a mortgage broker to get you the best deal. Your mortgage company will almost certainly see to this for you, when you’ve found one, but don’t get carried away when deciding how much you can afford to spend on your house. Life won’t stop when you become a homeowner, so you don’t want all your disposable income tied up in a crippling monthly mortgage repayment when you’re trying to save to go on holiday, or Christmas comes around, or your car breaks down unexpectedly. Remember that this is just the first rung of the ladder, so take it one step at a time.
On a related note, you will need to be realistic when you’re searching for properties within your budget. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to get everything you’d want in your dream home the first time round, so you’ll need to decide what your priorities are, and what you’re willing to sacrifice. You might need to give up off-street parking for an extra bedroom, or accept that the house is less modern than you’d like but in an ideal location. Be flexible, know what you’re willing to negotiate, and try to keep an open mind.
It’s natural that you’ll be keen to settle into your new home as soon as possible, but patience is key to the process. There will be many people pushing the sale along the way, but remember that your conveyancer is looking out for your best interests, and ensuring that you’re covered both during the transaction and once you legally own the property. It will be worth the wait to know that your neighbour can’t argue over the position of your fence, or that you have the right to access your garage from the road. Buying a house doesn’t happen overnight, but peace of mind will last a lifetime.