Buying your first home is a momentous landmark in life, and one of the most expensive and most important purchasing decisions you will ever make. Having saved up your deposit for many years, and working your way up the career ladder to be able to afford your own home, you may be ready to buy but don’t really have a clue where to start. Here are a few tips to get started for clueless first time buyers.
Don’t Start Looking Until you Know What you can Afford
It might sound obvious, but there’s no point looking for homes until you are absolutely certain of your definitive budget. Don’t guess based on a few slapdash mortgage calculations based on a free widget you found online. Make sure you know exactly how much house you can afford to avoid getting overexcited and ultimately disappointed when you are turned down for a mortgage on that million pound mansion you went to view last weekend.
Seek Professional and Free Mortgage Advice
These days nearly every main bank or building society branch will have their own mortgage adviser that you can access for free. Traditional mortgage brokers will usually charge for a consultation, or may well add a large fee on to your mortgage if you are successful with your application. Spend a day going around all the banks and building societies in your town to see if you can organise another day’s worth of appointments to get some free advice. That way you can compare all the information you are given to make your own decision on what’s really best for you and your finances.
Book a Day off for Viewings
Although many estate agencies do offer appointments on weekends, these usually get snapped up or involve group viewings. To make sure you have the best chance of seeing the property you like with enough time to view it properly, book a day off work so that you can call all the agents for all the properties you like and arrange the viewings on the same day. This will also help you to compare properties more easily. Be sure to take a notepad with you and a camera so that you can keep reminders of what you liked about each property – you will probably forget if you see several in one day!
Make Friends with the Estate Agent
Building rapport with the local estate agent is always a good idea, because it means you will be at the front of their mind when a nice property comes to their books and you might even get first look in on viewings. It also means that when you come to make an offer on one of their properties, you will feel a little more comfortable asking for advice and negotiating the purchase price.
Define Your Top 3 Locations
Before you start looking to for houses for sale online or with your local estate agent, have a list of your top 3 locations that you would like to live in. You may know the town that you like, but have you defined which part of the town you could or couldn’t live in? A leisurely drive round in the car on a sunny day can help you to see what the areas are like, who’s around, what the parking’s like and what all of the houses are like on that road. This will save you time, because if you see a house that looks perfect online but know that you wouldn’t like living in that area, you won’t waste time booking a viewing.
Relax and don’t rush in to anything – there will always be houses for sale so don’t jump in to your first property purchase until you feel completely ready to handle the house hunting, mortgage applications and price negotiations with confidence.
Emily Hodges is an estate agent based in London in the UK. Emily writes for the PropertyPropertyProperty.co.uk blog.