One of the biggest commitments you will ever make is buying a house. The process you have to go through can seem extremely overwhelming and stressful, especially if you are a first-time buyer, so here are some tips to help you prepare for this big step in your life.

1. Get Your Sums Straight

Some expenses that you need to consider when you are saving for a house, some which you may not have thought of, include:

  • Legal (Solicitor) Fees
  • Surveys
  • Stamp Duty (If you, or anyone you are buying with has never owned/part-owned a house, you may be exempt from paying stamp duty up to a maximum value of £500,000)
  • Mortgage Payments (and arrangement fees)
  • Council Tax
  • Utility Bills
  • Moving Costs (Furniture, Transport Hire, etc.)
  • Deposit (at least 5% of the property price; however, the larger the deposit that you put down, the lower the mortgage rate will be.

Although some of these factors don’t come into effect until you move into your home, it is good to be prepared and get your sums straight.

2. A ‘Healthy’ Credit Report

Your credit history plays a major role in finding a mortgage; it needs to be considered ‘healthy’ so lenders can see that you are reliable and able to keep up with payments. You can check your credit report online where you can see your credit repayments, fixed costs and other expenses, as well as your score and how you can improve it.

3. How Much Can You Borrow?

On top of checking your credit score, it is also very handy to find out how much money you will actually be able to borrow. By speaking to a mortgage adviser, they will assess your income, debts and deposit to work out a figure. This way, you can focus your search on affordable houses and set yourself an accurate goal for saving.

4. Shop Around the Mortgage Market

Shopping around a variety of mortgage providers and researching the economy can be extremely beneficial in finding the best mortgage deal for you. Mortgage calculators and comparison websites can help you before speaking to a financial adviser. Don’t apply for numerous mortgage applications over a short period of time as this could negatively affect your credit rating. Remember to get an agreement in principle when offered a loan to demonstrate that you serious and responsible.

5. Save, Save, Save

Start saving as soon as possible, even if it’s just a little bit here and there, as it will eventually build up – compare savings accounts in order to find the best interest rate. The Bank of Mum and Dad is always helpful, but by assessing your incomes and expenditures, then cutting down on certain luxuries and finding better providers for your utilities, you can regularly put a larger amount of money aside. There are also schemes for first-time buyers like the Help to Buy ISA where you can put up to £200 in every month and the Government will top up your total when you end up making your purchase.

6. Organise All of Your Documents

It is useful to get all of your relevant documents organised and filed together for when you need them during the process. These include:

  • Past 3 – 6 months’ worth of current account bank statements
  • Last 3 months of payslips from work and most recent P60
  • Full details of the seller, your solicitor, estate agents and any other parties involved
  • Copies of your ID and utility bills with your name on
  • If you’re self-employed, 2-3 years accounting from professional accountant and tax form SA302

Having these altogether and easily accessible will make everything quick, simple, and therefore less stressful.

7. Do Your Homework

Once your budget is established, it’s time to choose a location. One of the main things you need to consider is your commute to work. Are there good transport links, or is it close enough to drive to? Once you find one you think you like, take a look around and familiarise yourself with the surroundings. Do they have sufficient local amenities? What are the local schools like? Narrow down your requirements and only look for what you need, not what you want, so you fall in love with an achievable property.

8. Get the Most Out of Property Viewings

Don’t just go for one property viewing, be sure to look at a good selection so you can compare and make the right choice. While you are viewing a house, it is a good idea to:

  • Take your own photographs in the natural light
  • Keep your eyes peeled inside and outside the property for any potential damage
  • Take in your surroundings and the neighbours (busy roads, condition of neighbouring houses, parking situation)
  • Ask questions and make notes for each property
    – How long has it been on the market?
    – Have any other offers been made?
    – What is included in the sale?

If you want to make an offer, compare the asking price to other homes that have recently sold in the same area to see if you are getting a fair deal and how much you can bargain.

9. Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate

As a first-time buyer, with no other property to sell, you are in the perfect position to negotiate because what have you go to lose? If you don’t try, you’ll never know; the worst outcome will be that your offer will get rejected, so you have to increase it.

10. Patience is Key

Buying a house is a long process, so you need to be patient. With it being such a huge commitment, you need to make sure that everything is right so there is no need to rush. Be prepared to spend months going through the process, and keep the idea of owning your first house in mind as your goal.

If you’re a first-time buyer, get in touch with us today for more advice and information.


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