5 tips for buying your first home
Buying a house is generally considered to be a stressful experience, but when it’s your first home, it can also seem a particularly daunting process.
Last year, the Government announced plans to underwrite mortgages on some properties for first time buyers, enabling them to borrow up to 95% of the value of the property. Whilst this and other initiatives, such as shared ownership, are bringing more buyers into the market, there are other practical considerations that you need to take into account.
Barcan+Kirby’s residential conveyancing team offers some practical advice.
1. Understand the costs involved
The price you pay for the property is only part of the overall cost involved. When deciding how much you can afford, make sure you’ve considered all of the ancillary costs and budget for them. These include:
- Legal fees (including searches, land registry fees)
- Survey costs
- Stamp duty land tax
- Mortgage arrangement fees
- Costs of moving
2. Get the finance in place early
It makes sense to arrange your mortgage before you start viewing properties. All lenders will be able to give you an agreement in principal – this lets you know how much you can borrow based on your income and other fixed expenditure.
You should make sure you’re familiar with the different types of mortgages available. A specialist mortgage broker can help you find the most suitable one for your circumstances. This is particularly important given the current climate and the tighter lending requirements.
And of course, make sure you have your deposit organised at an early stage, ready for when your solicitor requires it.
3. Find the right property
Whilst it’s unlikely that your first property will be your ‘forever home’, you’re probably going to be there for several years. So it’s important that you research the area where you’ll be living, as well as the property.
When it comes to property, you should arrange to view it more than once at different times. Make notes of any obvious alterations, such as the removal of walls and replacement windows or boiler, and check that the appliances and services are in working order.
If you want to make an offer, online tools can give you an idea of what similar properties in the area have sold for.
4. Ensure the property is structurally sound
If you are taking out a mortgage, a valuation report will be carried out by the provider. However you should also consider getting an independent survey completed as this will be more extensive and highlight any problems with the property.
You should make sure that the boundaries of the property match the property plan your solicitor will provide you with. It’s essential that you raise any discrepancies.
5. Make sure you’re protected
This will probably be the largest purchase you’ve made, so it’s important that you’re properly protected, not only in terms of the legal ownership but also what happens to your property in the event of your death. This is where advice from your conveyancing solicitor is crucial.
If the property is a joint purchase, you need to decide how you are to hold it. You can hold it as joint tenants, so if one of you dies, the other will automatically inherit their share. Or you can hold the property as tenants in common. Under this agreement, if one of you died, your share would pass under the terms of a will, or the law of intestacy.
After completion, it’s important that you make or update your will to reflect what will happen to your home in the event of your death.
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