Hundreds of thousands of people have done it before you and hundreds of thousands will follow after you, but the truth of the matter is that buying your first home, or buying any home for that matter, will undoubtedly be one of the biggest purchases you will make in your lifetime. As such it is important that you take extreme care when considering a house for purchase, you weigh up all the options and you do your research!
Setting your budget
Before you start looking at potential houses, it is essential to give yourself a price range so that you can start to look realistically at houses within your budget. Your mortgage deposit is largely dependent on your current profession, your marital status and whether or not you have any dependants or children. There are a number of mortgage calculators online that will give you a brief outline on what you can hope to borrow, but it is sometimes better to go to a professional who can look at your case in more detail.
Help to buy schemes are fantastic and are designed to help first time buyers with a property they might not normally be able to afford. Remember to give yourself a ‘safety net’ when it comes to looking at properties. Unless your budget is not really an issue for you, it is important to allow yourself around £15-£20,000 savings for repairs, renovations and furnishings on the new property, as a survey may come back with a few defects that you will want to rectify before moving in.
Research the local area
You can glean a lot about the local area from how the neighbours keep their gardens. If the neighbours seem very house proud with well presented front lawns, clear gutters and no visible trash or overgrown foliage, chances are your house will be well kept as well. If you can have a short chat with the neighbours to ask them what they like about living there and try to gauge what it might be like for you to live on that street.
If you are serious about purchasing the property, make sure to arrange for multiple viewings! It may seem tedious but you want to know if the property is right for you 24/7. It might be lovely and warm during the day but attract a chill at night, or you may have neighbours with yappy dogs who bark all through the night. Never stick to a single viewing before you decide to buy.
Ask the seller questions!
How many viewings has the house had and how long has it been on the market?
This helps give you an idea of whether or not the house is marketed at what is deemed an ‘acceptable’ price. If you are a first time buyer, you may be tempted by a good deal or attracted to a beautiful home, but it is important to consider why it might not have so many viewings.
How long has the previous seller lived there and what is the purpose for their move?
You want to find out if this property has a quick ‘turnaround’. If the previous seller has lived there for 10+ years, this is a more positive sign than if it has had three or more owners in the last decade. What is included in the sale? (Furniture, draperies etc.)
This may seem like an invasive question but if it is not made clear what may be included in the sale then it is always better to ask.
Where are the gas and electricity meters and who supplies the energy, broadband and home phone? This is a particularly useful question as it may help prevent you from having to pay out surprise bills at the start of your lease.
Has anyone been murdered there?
Again this may sound like a strange question but you’d be surprised to find how attitudes can change towards a house that has history such as a murder. Plus, better for you to be finding out now rather than three months down the line when all the local kids are whispering behind your back.
If you are 100% serious and certain that this is the property you want to buy you can ask the seller to take the home off the market by marking this as a condition on your offer. This is a good way to avoid what is known as ‘gazumping’ which is when the seller accepts another higher offer after the sale has been agreed (although some sellers may accept other, lower offers if the offers are instant i.e; cash straight up). Asking to take the home off the market also highlights your serious attitude towards purchasing the property, although until contracts are exchanged either party is free to pull out at any time.
Is now the right time?
This should really be the first thing you think of when purchasing a property, but it is absolutely crucial and it is something you should always bear in mind while looking for a property. The property market is often an unstable thing and house prices can easily rise and fall like the ocean tides. You’ll want to be absolutely sure in yourself that this is what you want to do, as purchasing a home is a huge investment and to do it at the wrong time could be catastrophic for your mortgage repayments.
On the other hand ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’. There is no true ‘right time’ to venture into purchasing a property and like many big decisions you will have to make in your life, it is sometimes better to take the plunge instead of constantly worrying about whether or not the property market is about to crash.