First-time house buyers have it rough right now. There are some things in place to help, but saving enough to afford to buy a house is still difficult and then getting your head around the actual buying process is a whole other thing again. So, here is some advice for all you first-time house buyers.
Before you can even begin to think about buying a house, you need to save enough to afford the deposit. An ISA can help you to buy. Depending on which one you get (or have) the government will add an extra percentage on top of it. This is together with the yearly interest the ISA would normally give. However, this kind of saving has a limit on the amount that you can deposit each year, and using it alone will take a few years before you have enough for a deposit. This is why you need to make a plan. You need to work out how much you make each month and how much you need to spend in order to live. After that you will want to try and save as much as possible. It might be boring, but even if this means you miss out on doing some fun things every now and again, it will be worth it in the future.
Getting a mortgage is not as simple as walking into a bank and wanting to buy a house. Depending on how much you have as a deposit will affect the level of your mortgage. The percentage that you need to get the best rate can change, so check this out beforehand. However, you also need to take into account the additional costs that come with getting a mortgage such as an arrangement, valuation and legal fees. These can add up to more than £2,000, so you want to make sure that they are part of your budget calculations when planning to buy. The last thing you want is to be surprised by these extra charges and for it to mean that you are put in a difficult situation. When getting a mortgage be sure to shop around and compare the various ones on offer so that you get the best deal in terms of monthly payments and overall interest rate. Make sure that you get the mortgage that suits you and not the one the bank wants to give you.
Conveyancing is a legal process of transferring ownership of a property from one person to another. It is unavoidable, and in order to complete it, you need to hire a solicitor. However, the cost of a solicitor is variable between firms, so you should compare conveyancing quotes to make sure that you get the best deal. Don’t just agree to the first quote that you get as there could be a massive difference between the cheapest and most expensive quote. The actual process will be the same either way, so you might as well pay as little as possible. Just make sure that you have accounted for the cost of conveyancing when planning to buy a house.
Before you decide to commit to a purchase, you should get the house you are interested in surveyed. This will help you to find any issues with the house that the estate agent or the seller have left out. It is always best to hire a building surveyor and for there to be no issues than to neglect to do so and find out that the house has structural problems. They are a few hundred pounds but will give you more than just piece of mind if they do find any problems. Any problems discovered or other deal-breakers can be used to try and reduce the price of the property, so you should always use a building surveyor.
Use Property Finders
One of the hardest things about buying a house can be finding one that you like enough to invest so much time and money into. This is where property finders can be really useful. Sites like Zoopla and Rightmove are great because you can filter away houses and flats that are not relevant or outside of your budget. This means that you only ever need to see the ones that you are interested in. Both of these sites also have an app version that you can use on the go, and you can save properties that you are interested in to review them later. The internet has made it a lot easy to find the right house for you, but there will still be a lot of house viewings in your future if you’re serious about buying one.
Explore Before You Buy
Let’s assume that you have found a house that you want to buy and you are ready to make an offer; you should stop at this point and explore before you commit to the purchase. You will want to double or even triple check that the house is for you. You need to make sure there are no damp areas or worrisome cracks in the walls. Don’t be afraid to lift up rugs and look behind furniture to see whether the current residents are trying to hide anything. You should also check with the neighbours to see what the area is like and whether they know anything about the house. If you are planning to start a family in this house, is it near to a school that you would want to send your kids to? How close is it to the shops and other amenities? These are all questions that you need to ask yourselves, and not all of them are about the house itself. Don’t forget that you are moving to an area as much as into a new house.
This one is important. You need to negotiate. The listing price of the house is more of a general asking price, and it is not set in stone. It isn’t like walking into to a supermarket and buying some bread; the sellers will likely drop their asking price depending on how long the house has been on the market and its current condition. You should speak with your estate agent as they will know what kind of offer the seller is likely to accept and don’t be afraid to offer less. The worst thing that can happen is that the seller will say no and then counter with a different figure. Most of the time, this alternative figure will be less than the original asking price, and you will have made an instant saving thanks to a single question. You should not feel like you are being rude or be shy about negotiating, it is how buying and selling a house works.
Should You Buy?
This is a serious question. Buying a house is all well and good, but should you do it? The commitment you need to save in the first place might put you off, but it is worth having savings regardless of whether or not they are used on a house. However, you might not be at a stage in your life where you are ready for a mortgage as the repayments can take decades to clear. You might still want the freedom of renting. The ability to know that if you wanted, you can put all your things into storage and fly off to another country for a year abroad without having any commitments holding you back. Once you buy a house, this becomes a lot more complicated. Not impossible, but definitely complicated. You should not feel like you have to buy a house just because you can, as it is a huge commitment. So don’t rush, take your time to consider all your options and make the right choice for you.