First Time Buyers Guide

The housing market for some first time buyers can seem quite daunting, but if you follow the process of buying a first home in logical stages and ask as many questions as possible then matters should run much more smoothly!

The first step is to formulate a general idea as to where you would like to live, often taking into account such factors as local amenities, ease of public transport or ideal road connections and proximity to family.

The next step is to ascertain the maximum purchase price you can afford for a home, by combining your salary, savings and the amount that can be borrowed from a mortgage lender, and still be in a financial position to live at the standard you are used to.

Generally the greater the deposit you can amass from your savings, which is no mean feat in today’s financial climate, the lesser the interest rate charged on your mortgage loan.

Often, first time buyers forget the cost of buying may include solicitors fees, structural survey and mortgage valuation charges, stamp duty, renovation or at the very least decoration costs, furniture, and then once moved in paying gas plus electricity bills, water rates, council tax, internet connection costs, service charges plus ground rent. All of this must be considered, quite apart from the cost of such items as mobile telephone bills, travel to and from work, food, car and university repayments, and even luxury expenditures such as eating out and holidays.

High Street lenders and independent mortgage brokers are only too happy to make an appointment to review your personal finances and give their best advice in terms of recommending a lender and buying ceiling, but you must always check the type of mortgage, rates offered and watch out for any hidden costs in what is a very diverse mortgage market.

Be prepared to shop around for the best financial advice. Although time consuming it will most certainly save you money in the long term.

If you are not buying individually but with a partner or a friend, then your financial resources may be greater, but be aware of the subsequent legal ramifications when selling. Always consult legal advice if you are unsure of the potential consequences.

Please remember that buyers do not pay estate agents. It is the seller who pays. This means that an estate agent’s client, and the person to whom he owes a duty of care, is therefore the seller and not you. Hence that well used Latin maxim ‘caveat emptor’, let the buyer beware.

Once you have taken sound financial advice that suits your circumstances, this will confirm whether the area you have chosen to reside is within your budget criteria and you can focus on what type and size of home you can afford.

Generally houses are freehold whilst flats are either leasehold or with a share of the freehold but still subject to a lease with obligations binding on all the flat owners.

If looking at flats, always ask the term of the lease and the annual service charge. If the lease is below sixty years, it may preclude a lender from granting a mortgage and additional monies will have to be found to extend the lease. Service charges can vary considerably depending on size, management and age of the block together with the amount of reserve funds and any forthcoming works.

When searching for a home there is a lot of information on the internet which is often very useful, including from the land registry and other property portals, as to immediate prices achieved to local information and even crime statistics.

When going on viewings always have a good look at the property including inside and outside for any signs of physical or maintenance problems. Some people even check the staircases in blocks of flats to see how well the building is cleaned and kept.

Once you find a home, again ask the situation of the sellers. Have they found and are they in a chain of buyers and sellers? Invariably as a first time buyer, you will be at the end of the chain and to save time and money on wasted legal fees, it is imperative you ascertain the probability of a smooth sale.

Again when instructing a solicitor or appointing an independent surveyor who acts for you and not the lender, get quotes but do not always use the cheapest.

By considering some or all of the above your choice of home and purchase should be smoother.

The Sales Teams at JAC Strattons are always available to give best buying advice and welcome any telephone calls or visits from first time buyers at any of our five branches.

At the very least, JAC Strattons can help to make the buying a first home process both a more straightforward and less fraught experience.