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First-Time Buyer Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

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About to take your first step onto the property ladder?

To help you along the way, why not learn from others’ mistakes? We’ll point you in the right direction. Here are some common first-time buyer mistakes and how to avoid them.

Putting down a small deposit

Particularly if paying high rent prices, it can be extremely difficult to save for a house deposit.

But, in most cases, the less you out down, you narrow your selection of mortgage deals and better rates. For the most manageable monthly repayments, you often need a larger deposit.

Avoid falling into the trap of buying a house and then struggling to keep up with its mortgage repayments.

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How to avoid the issue

While you can buy a home with a smaller deposit, for example 5%, it’s recommended to try and put down a higher amount. Even though this can seem daunting – it may save you money in the long term.

A 10% deposit can significantly widen your choice of mortgage deals. So, if possible, try to save as much as you can. It’s important to understand how mortgages work as this a big borrowing commitment that you’ll be responsible for. This is one of the most important steps in the first-time buyer checklist!

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Not leveraging chain-free status

For many sellers, the fact you are chain-free will make you an attractive buyer. Leveraging this status can be a useful card to play, especially when it comes to negotiating a house price down.

However, many first-time buyers forget or simply overlook this!

How to avoid the issue

When you make your offer in writing, stress your chain free position and ability to proceed unhindered.

Always maintain open dialogue with the selling agent and seller. By promoting your position you give yourself a better chance of securing a sale.

Forgetting to sort out home insurance

If this is your first time dealing with the property market, it’s easy to forget that you become responsible for the buildings insurance when you exchange contracts.

So, even if you haven’t moved in to the property and it becomes damaged, you’re responsible! Some buyers find this out the hard way.

How to avoid the issue

Get your head around insurance for first-time buyers sooner rather than later. Buildings insurance must be in place at the point of exchanging contracts with the seller.

Not researching the local area

Too many new buyers get carried away at finding the ‘perfect’ property. Therefore, they don’t research the surrounding area as well as they should.

The result? They move in to their new home, only to find something they dislike about the area, such as:

• Light/noise pollution
• Nearby planning works beginning
• Poor transport connections

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How to avoid the issue

View the property more than once, at different times of the day if possible.

But, it’s essential you dig a little deeper than that. An important piece of first-time buyer advice is to carry out some thorough research.

You’ll want information on many things, including:

• Local planning applications that are pending or approved 
• Local crime rates
• Who the neighbours are
• Local schools
• Nearby services

Phil Spencer’s property report pulls together the unbiased facts about a property and is available at the click of a button at the time you need it most – you can get a property report here.

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Not researching the property

Many buyers, whether it’s their first time buying a home or not, can let their emotions take over and agree to part with their money too quickly.

However, those who are inexperienced with the property market are usually more prone. After they’ve moved in – they can find their home isn’t what they thought it was.

How to avoid the issue

First-time buyers should ask questions – plenty of them. Estate agents and sellers aren’t legally required to volunteer information, so if you don’t ask you don’t get.

Things to ask include:

• Can the asking price be verified?
• Has the seller made (or know of) any serious alterations to the property?
• What’s the property’s EPC rating? 
• How long has it been for sale?
• Has the seller found another property yet?
• How much do they pay in council tax?

Looking for a home before a mortgage

Looking for a home before knowing what you can afford often leads to disappointment. Hopeful buyers believe they’ve found their dream property – only to have their mortgage application rejected.

Most first-time buyers aren’t lucky enough to have the cash for a house upfront so knowing you can realistically afford before you start your search is vital.

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How to avoid the issue

So, what’s the solution?

Speak to a professional mortgage adviser and work out the best mortgage to suit your needs and get a mortgage agreement in principle before you start house hunting. Not only will you present yourself as a committed and well prepared buyer, but you’ll know exactly what you can afford.

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Failing to get a survey

You wouldn’t buy a car without looking under the bonnet! Yet many buyers decide a property is their dream home and don’t get a survey, only to then find some nasty surprises that may have changed their mind about buying it in the first place.

Some problems aren’t obvious, such as the condition of the roof. This means new homeowners who don’t have the right survey on their new home can end up paying to fix these issues they hadn’t accounted for.

How to avoid the issue

Here, the answer is simple! Hire a surveyor and get the right survey to identify whether there are any issues with the property you need to know about.

Never underestimate the importance of this – get a survey.

Don’t make your final decision about whether to buy until after this has been carried out.

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Not checking their credit score

Struggling to get a mortgage? Many buyers find their application rejected due to a poor credit score they weren’t aware of..

However, they only find out this out when they begin the homebuying process.

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How to avoid the issue

To improve your chances of getting a mortgage, always check your credit score beforehand. If you’re worried yours will be bad, start slowly. Pay off your debts, check for any fraud and regularly pay off your credit card payments.

Forgetting extra costs

First-time buyers too often think that the mortgage payments are the only extra costs they’ll have to worry about when they own a home.

However, this is not the case. Others include:

• Council tax
• Paying utility bills – which usually increase every year
• On-going maintenance 
• Insurance

How to avoid the issue

You need to work out if now is definitely the right time to buy. What home can you afford? Think beyond the property itself and consider whether you can afford the true cost of running a home.

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Also, remember to compare and switch energy providers!

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Underestimating the cost of renovation

Houses that need some renovation work are sometimes cheaper – which can entice people to buy.

Sometimes, this is a situation many are happy with. However, too often buyers underestimate how much these home improvements will cost and find themselves struggling to afford them.

How to avoid the issue

Gain as many insights into the property as you can. Ask questions, get a survey and a conveyancing solicitor to ensure you’re not going into this property purchase blind.

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Not finding the right mortgage advisers

Your mortgage deal is essential, which means you need to find the right adviser for your circumstances.

A professional mortgage adviser will be able to advise you on the most appropriate mortgage for your needs as well as what it will cost you, not just on a monthly basis but over the entire mortgage term .

A good adviser will take your individual situation into account and suggest the most appropriate options. For example, some lenders may offer a longer repayment term or lower arrangement fees which could give you a higher budget to buy with.

Having best advice is so important and we can connect you with independent professionals to make sure you get the right mortgage. Get mortgage quotes from professional brokers below.

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Last Updated: August 13th, 2021

Phil Spencer

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