In December 2015, my boyfriend and I purchased our very own first home. At the age of 21, I feel like this is a great achievement and I am fortunate to be in the position that I am. Buying your own home, whether it is a house or a flat, is a daunting and confusing process but also exciting and the start of a brand new journey.
- Start Saving
I think this is the most important step of all because obviously, you cannot buy a property without the funds to do so. There are many different government schemes in place to assist first time buyers getting a deposit and the best place to look for all the correct information on deposits is the Money Saving Expert website. For me, we saved up 5% of the house price for a deposit. On top of a deposit, you will also need funds to pay the estate agent, legal fees, survey and moving van (if you require one!). The more money you have, the better off you will be.
2. Know your value
The three main influential factors for getting yourself a mortgage to buy your home are the size of your deposit, your earnings and your credit rating. If you only have 5K for a deposit and earn 20k, you won’t get approval for a house that’s 200k because the banks will see that you are unable to financially support that. A negative credit score will mean that you can be refused from obtaining a mortgage, and having no credit score can also have an impact which is what happen to myself. As I hadn’t had credit in my life, I had no credit score, therefore the mortgage lenders had no evidence that I was capable of paying back a loan of money in a regular manner. Building up credit via a credit card or car finance will be beneficial to your mortgage application, as long as you keep up the repayments. There are plenty of online calculators of comparison websites and from individual banks that will give you an approximate guide on the amount of money they would be willing to lend you. You’ll then know a rough price range for which properties you should be looking at.
3. Make a wish list but be realistic
There is no point in buying a house that you don’t love or can’t see yourself living in. If you know you want 2 bedrooms, 1 for its intending purpose and the other as an office, then don’t rush and settle for less. However, if all the properties around your budget only have 1 bedroom, then you cannot expect to get 2 for the same price. I’d love electric gates and a walk in wardrobe, but I am not well off and my budget doesn’t cater for that, but I can still love a home that doesn’t have that. Your first home doesn’t have to, and probably wont be, your forever home. It’s good to be ambitious and have a dream, but the property market is fierce and overpriced.
4. Location Location Location
Location has a huge impact on house prices. I live in the South of England where house prices are generally higher than those in th North. All counties have their rougher towns compared to the fancier, more desirable towns. In Essex, there are urban areas, costal towns and tiny villages where house prices rocket. For me, location was something we compromised on for the sake of a larger home. In the town of my family home we could have purchased a one bedroom flat but the town we chose meant we were able to get a two bedroom terraced house with a garden for almost half the price of the flat, it just means we have a longer commute and aren’t a stones throw away from our friends and family. It is a slightly ‘ghetto’ estate but we are also a two minute walk from the beach and I have grown to love it.
5. Be prepared for unexpected expensess
Saving for the deposit is important but there’s other things to consider. When we bought our home, the survey showed that there was damp work which needed doing urgently. This meant forking out an extra £1000 for the work to be done. Sometimes, a mortgage offer may require you go get essential work done before they even let you move in. A little bit of extra cash to use if necessary will help you out in those sticky situations that you aren’t expecting.
6. Shop around
Use online website Rightmove to begin your house search as that is where pretty much every property on the market is. When you find a home, you’ll then have to work with whichever property company they are using such as Bairstow Eves. Each company will have their own mortgage adviser but you are not required to use those. It is so important to get a trustworthy, competent advisor that you are comfortable to work, as well as a legal company to deal with the solicitor side of the house buying process. I really liked our mortgage advisor, but the legal company provided to us was over two hundred miles away and difficult to communicate with. Communication when buying a property is extremely important.
7. Do your research and take on advice
Listen to the mortgage advisor and follow their advice. It is their job to help you. In our case, I had looked online and found exactly what mortgage I wanted and how much I could obtain, but in reality, when all the figures had been out into place and the required checks done, I could only get approved for a mortgage half of my original desired amount. Obviously this changes everything and will have a huge impact on the property you chose. But these guys know what they are doing and will be able to help you every step of the way. Other things to consider researching are life insurance and getting a will as these are important if you own your own property in case of anything bas happening in the future.
8. Visit once, visit twice, visit three times
At first, you’ll just be so excited to be viewing your very own home. You won’t notice that there is mould growing up the wall, that the windows are single glazed and that the flooring will be ripping out. You’ll just see a fanastic space for your dressing table, room for a tv on the wall and a lush set of curtains (they probably arent leaving those for you btw). It’s always good to revisit the property a few times to properly look into it and make sure you haven’t missed any key details which could end up costing you a fortune.
9. Look for inspiration but don’t compare
I was all over Pinterest before the house hunting even began. The perfect white walls with rose gold details.. the truth is, my walls are magnolia and my bed is rarely made. A Pinterest house isn’t for everybody and sometimes those photos are extremely hard to recreate and will look completely different in your home. Just because you don’t have floating shelves and quotes on the wall doesn’t mean your decor isn’t just as aesthetically pleasing. If you live in a thatched cottage, you probably can’t recreate white washed floors and a minimalist look. Opt for decor that you love and suit your style to create your own homely vibe.
10. Enjoy it!
Buying your first property is a crazy, draining but exciting experience. Don’t forget to enjoy it!