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How to Become a First-Time Buyer

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If you’re looking to take your first step onto the property ladder, you will likely have a lot of questions. Being a first-time buyer can be a difficult process with plenty of pitfalls to avoid. However, once you’ve got your keys and moving day has arrived, you’ll realise that it was all worth it.

Becoming a first-time buyer takes a lot of planning, saving and organisation. We’ve put some handy tips together to help make sense of the noise and ease the process for you. Here’s what you can expect and what you should be doing now if you’re thinking about buying your first property.

#1 – Give yourself a crash course in mortgages

Whether you’re already acquainted with mortgages or still trying to work out all of the jargon, it’s worthwhile giving yourself a little crash course on what you’re going to be getting yourself into. You’re going to need to get a mortgage to buy a property, so make sure you’re in the know about the different types of mortgages there are, how you’ll be affected by interest rates and how much you’ll likely need as a deposit.

It’ll be helpful to read up on the mortgage application process too. Make sure you’re well aware of when to apply and what you can be doing to ensure you’re more likely to be accepted.

Looking for mortgage quotes? Fill in our quick form to get no-obligation quotes from top lenders based on the type of property you’re looking to buy.

#2 – Save, save, save

The bigger your deposit, the better mortgage deal you’re likely to get. Not only this but as a first-time buyer, you’ll be more likely to be accepted for a mortgage if you offer a larger deposit. Deposits don’t come cheap though. Expect to pay at least 5% of the property price, though this can go as high as 40%. 

To increase your chances of getting on the property ladder sooner rather than later, it’s a good idea to budget your income, cut back on that lavish lifestyle and start making saving a priority.

#3 – Check up on your credit rating

Whether you’ve got a flawless credit rating or a few previous hiccups that you’d rather forget, it’s a good idea to check up on your credit rating long before you begin the homebuying process. Not only will this prevent you from any nasty surprises further down the line, but it’ll also give you the time you need to rectify any issues that might be present.

Using credit responsibly is a good indicator to banks and lenders that they can trust you with their investment. This can also be a quick way to boost your credit score if it’s lower than you’d hoped. Also, make sure your details are up-to-date and there aren’t any mistakes on your credit report.

If you do find that you’ve got a poor credit rating, you may still be able to get a mortgage. Your options may be a little more limited and you may need a larger deposit but some lenders are willing to offer mortgages to those with a less than perfect credit history.

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#4 – Brush up on the latest first-time buyer schemes available to you

There are numerous schemes which are designed to help first-time buyers take their first step onto the property ladder. Some of these change over time, so be sure that you’re getting the latest advice. 

If you’re thinking of getting a new build property as your first home, the First Homes scheme can offer a 30% discount on the market value of a new build property. Additionally, many mortgage lenders are also more likely to approve a 5% deposit for first-time buyers after the government introduced a 95% mortgage scheme where they’ll underwrite part of the loan. Both schemes mentioned above do include eligibility criteria that you’ll need to meet in order to qualify.

#5 – Create an extensive budget

There are a lot of costs involved in buying your first home. Some of these can be planned while others can be more unexpected. Be sure to give yourself plenty of breathing space with your budget to cover any unforeseen costs which may pop up. Here are some key costs to factor into your budget:

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#6 – Create a checklist of wants and needs

Finding your dream home is the fun part of buying a property. Scrolling through ads, going to viewings and seeking out where you’ll soon call home is an enjoyable process for many. Having said that, it’s easy to get carried away if you don’t go into this fully prepared. Create a list of wants and needs from your home. For example, you may need a property with sufficient parking, whereas you may want a property with a south facing garden. It’s important to prioritise this list and be aware of what you’d be willing to compromise on. Some aspects of a property may simply be non-negotiable, but there are some which you’d be willing to let slip.

Communicate this list to any estate agent you work with, this way they’ll be able to only show you properties which deliver upon your needs. This will save you a lot of wasted time viewing properties which just aren’t right for you.

So, the next question is, what should you consider when beginning the viewing process? Here, we’ve identified some key aspects which you should think about prior to house hunting:

Location

Where do you want to live? This is such a major part of any property hunt as it’ll not only impact the cost of your property but also your quality of life.

Local schools, transport links, amenities and local crime rates are just some of the vital considerations to make when choosing an area. Additionally, would you rather move to an up-and-coming neighbourhood or one that’s already established? Are you looking for a quiet home in the suburbs or to be close to a city / town centre?

The cost of your property is also impacted significantly by the location you choose to live. For instance a home in a desirable location with excellent schools and great transport links is going to be more expensive than one in an up-and-coming area. Additionally, if you buy a property in an up-and-coming area, you may find that it significantly increases in value during your time there. 

Don’t overlook the importance of location, this is one to consider at length before you begin your house hunt.

Size of the property

Are you looking for a one bedroom home or are you likely to start a family in the future and need some extra space?

The size of the property you get will of course impact its price. It will also impact how comfortable you are living there. Don’t overlook the importance of ample wardrobe space, storage space or a kitchen big enough to cook up your signature roast.

This is going to be your new home, so be sure that you’re going to be comfortable living there.

#8 – Flat or house, new build or not?

Would you be comfortable living in a flat or would you prefer to own a house? This goes beyond just the initial aesthetic considerations but into discussions regarding freehold vs leasehold. For example, if you buy a flat you’re likely buying leasehold and not freehold. This can become more costly and, at times, more complicated than buying freehold. Additionally, you may also be committed to paying a proportion of the freeholder’s building maintenance fees.

Moreover, do you have a preference on whether your new home is a new build or not? New build properties aren’t to everyone’s tastes and there are some pitfalls to avoid if you’re looking to go down this route.

#9 – Additional points to consider

There are plenty of other considerations to make when you’re looking for your first home. Here are some common points to think about:

  • Will the property need renovation or decorating prior to moving day?
  • Furnished or unfurnished?
  • Internet and phone signal
  • How busy is the road you’re thinking of moving to?
  • What are the noise levels like?
  • Any damp, mould or structural issues?
  • Do you want a garden?
  • What would your commute to work look like?

#10 – Do your research

When you start looking for properties to buy, it’s important to do your research on the area you may move to. The Move iQ property report will give you all of the information you need to know about an area before you move in. From crime rates, local schools, amenities and average property values. Simply enter a postcode to find vital property information to inform your decision.

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Last Updated: December 2nd, 2021

Phil Spencer

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