Do You Feel Ready to Step Up Onto the Property Ladder?
Buying your first home is daunting, scary, exciting and an amazing experience all at the same time! At some point in most people’s lives, arriving at the position to be able to “buy” over renting is a turning point for several reasons – including the potential to build equity and provide security for the family.
It’s people’s largest financial commitment and as you know, when you take out your first mortgage, you’re in it for the long haul – often 30 – 35 years at least.
Today then, we’re going to provide you the ultimate guide to buying your first home, what’s involved right from the start to having the keys in your hand and saying goodbye to a life of renting or living with family. We’ll answer those burning questions or any anxieties you may have.
What Can You Afford?
This is the first question, because as with buying anything, if you don’t have the money or cannot borrow it, it’s out of the equation – really it’s that simple.
The Deposit & Other Costs
This is the cash you’ll want to have saved up front, as these days you’re not going to get a 100% mortgage. If you can find it, they’ll be rare and have extortionate rates .This is the crippling part of purchasing your first property and getting started.
“Saving, Saving, Saving.”
With a reasonable deposit (usually a minimum of 10% of the property’s value (sometimes 5%)) you can expect to begin some borrowing negotiations and planning. Ultimately, the larger the deposit, the better the deals are. You also have the added advantage of instant equity on your property!
The higher the deposit, the bigger the saving (on rates).
This simple Mortgage Calculator can try and give you a ballpark figure of what you’re dealing with.
Don’t Forget These
Other fees and costs to include in this guide: valuation fees, application fees and of course legal. Saving the big one ‘til last, Stamp Duty (non-negotiable and payable to the government).
First Time Buyer Mortgage
After discussing the overall affordability price on your future home, then follows the details of what type of first time buyer mortgage you can expect to get.
The average cost of a home in the UK stands at around £216,750, topping £200k for the first time back in April, 2016 (£313, 670 in the South and £150,917 in the North brings us the average).
With this in mind, you’ll need to be thinking closer at what you’re likely budget will be based on your location.
A first time buyer mortgage should be thoroughly explained (as with any mortgage) by your mortgage advisor (independent or with your chosen borrower). It’s advisable to do your own research on a mortgage broker or high-street borrower, don’t just rely on who your estate agent recommends. Doing your homework will pay off.
Be prepared to have a couple of month’s worth of payslips (or proof of income from your accountant if self-employed), personal details as well as other household bills – just for identity etc.
Mortgages you will have on offer are likely to come in the form of “fixed rate” or “tracker.” Now, you’ve probably heard these terms being thrown around a little, so let’s quickly explain which is which.
As it sounds, the interest rate of borrowing the mortgage is fixed and keeps initial monthly repayments to your budget, knowing within the set timescale (2 – 10 yrs) things won’t change – with such a low base rate currently.
This might appear a good option unless you foresee interest rates falling. Here you could end up paying over the odds. After the mortgage ends, you’ll automatically change to a variable rate.
Has a variable interest rate, to track the base rate of your lender (based on the Bank of England Base Rate).
If your lender’s base rate ends up falling, so will yours i.e. your payments will drop. As you’d expect, if rates increase then consequently, so will yours too, thus your payments will rise.
The Property Search – Getting Started
We all know, searching for your “perfect” home can take forever, literally. There’s time, money and patience spent doing this but it doesn’t mean you have to suffer because as with anything of this nature, there’s a right way and a “difficult” way around doing things.
If you’ve already decided, yes, I/we wish to buy, then you’ve already ruled out what benefits renting can have when considering a home and acknowledge the advantages stack up in favour.
Not that you know you have an agreement from your bank or mortgage lender, it’s time to continue house-hunting. This is the exciting bit. Today, people will be endlessly scrolling through Rightmove but it’s always worth going into local estate agents in person, like the old days.
Why? Because building a relationship with some estate agents in areas you want to buy could just mean getting a “heads up” on new properties not yet on comparison search sites. It’s who you know….
Visiting the property should be done at various different times – especially commuting times and evenings/weekends. This is just being practical as there are other factors to consider such as supermarkets and proximity to local schools to name a few.
If your ideal location seems a little expensive, look to research outer areas – if you don’t know the area well, again ask for some advice from the estate agent or anyone you know in the area.
Try not to get carried away here. It’s easy to get caught up in all the excitement and energy of find your first home, but remember, you still want a good deal. Don’t get pushed around because you’re an attractive buyer (i.e. no hassles of a chain) and instead use this as leverage – you’re in the advantageous situation here of providing a quick sale at your end of the chain.
The point, avoid getting convinced you can afford more than you actually can.
As interest rates are still low for borrowers (Bank of England Base Rate is still sitting at 0.25% (Aug, 2016)) it means to keep a cool head on because at a rate so close to zero, they’ll ONLY go up in the future – bear this in mind.
So, for example if a house costs £200,000 and your max budget is £190,000, offer £180,000. This is a rough guideline, but remember the cheaper you buy it, the smaller the mortgage! As a first time buyer, you have considerably more bargaining power.
Consider taking an experienced buyer with you to help with the negotiations as you need to be confident with questions such as:
- Why is it up for sale and how long has it been on the market for?
- Is anything included with the property (e.g. built in appliances etc)?
- What is the current situation of the seller?
Why ask questions? They could potentially provide some much-needed leverage, this added to your position as a first time buyer could have negotiations swinging your way!
Remember: Once the offer has been formally accepted, request your potential new home is taken off the market, with immediate effect.
This is a really important element for first-time buyers especially and at first it may seem like just “another cost”, but it’s value far exceeds the monetary cost. Though every homebuyer should always have a survey conducted on their new home, having this as a first time buyer ensures you are satisfied and confident that your potential first home is structurally sound.
Ensure it’s a chartered surveyor and ask for some recommendations. Though there won’t be huge differences in fees, the quality and service you receive could just swing your decision.
Moving Home Arrives
Once you’ve found your first property, got the mortgage agreed it’s important to consider ALL upcoming costs involved in the final stage. When all the paperwork, legalities and monies have been transacted and you have a final exchange and completion date, you’re on the final stretch.
As you’ve gathered, there are many aspects for moving house to consider such as Estate Agents, Solicitors, Stamp Duty right down to the details of actually moving.
Your chosen removals company is definitely something you’ll want to hunt around for early, if you’re going to use one. The reasons are obvious, reputation and affordability. Moving home (even your first) can still be equally stressful. Just because you don’t have years of stuff built up in your home, it’s all relative.
Your first home is likely to be smaller, therefore less space, so planning is key – all achievable if tackled early.