I think it is ingrained in the majority of us that owning your own home is something we should aspire to do. And having been a property owner now myself for around 30 years I have to say that I understand why that is and I tend to agree that it’s a great thing to do.
On a personal level it has meant that I am in control of how I live and how my house is presented, which a renter cannot do. And owning a house has always given me a sense of security that I would not get as a tenant. Of course there are negatives and potential issues with owning your own home, but I honestly think that the positives outweigh the negatives massively.
So if like me you feel being a homeowner is something you want to achieve then here are some useful tips to start on that journey.
1. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
One of the first steps in buying your first home is to get pre-approved for a mortgage. This will let you know your budget before you even start looking, both with how much you can borrow and of course how much it will cost you each month to repay it. It also shows to estate agents and sellers that you are a serious buyer who is able to react quickly.
By far the easiest and quickest way of doing this is to speak with an Independent Mortgage Broker and have them research the whole market for you. With so many lenders and deals out there you really should speak with a broker. And best of all getting pre-approved should not have to cost you anything other than a little time.
This is also a good time to find a solicitor. There will be important legal aspects to buying a property and a good solicitor is vital to ensure that nothing is missed. If possible try to avoid using a cheap call centre solicitor and find one you can get hold of if you need to. Your mortgage broker will probably have one or two that they can recommend to you.
2. Other costs in buying a home
Buying a home will mean you need to have some cash available. First of all there is the deposit. It is very rare these days to be able to buy a house having borrowed 100% of the purchase price, so you need to have access to a deposit, being the difference between the mortgage and the purchase price.
Then there is a tax called stamp duty, which is effectively a government tax for buying a home. The amount of the stamp duty varies based on the purchase price, sometimes it will even be zero. Then you need to account for legal fees to complete the purchase, moving costs, any furniture you might need etc. Your mortgage broker is a good person to help with this list, so do not be afraid to ask.
3. Make a monthly Budget
Your mortgage payments are just one of the costs you will have of owning a home, albeit probably the biggest one. It is important you know the other monthly costs you will face at the start so that there are no surprises after the keys are in your hand. As well as the mortgage payments, be sure to factor in maintenance costs on the property, gas, electric, council tax etc. So after you have worked out what you can afford on the mortgage payments you should also leave room in your budget for those other costs.
4. Register with Estate Agents
A good estate agent knows the local market inside and out and can help you figure out your needs and help you to narrow down neighbourhoods that could excite you. They will also be the ones negotiating the purchase for you, so it’s important that they know how far you are able to go – it’s your money and only you know how much you can really afford to spend.
It’s a good idea to register with local agents so they can contact you before the property is even listed on Rightmove and other property listing sites. Being ready with your Deal in Principle from your mortgage broker means you will be their first port of call when a new property comes to market so gives you a head start on other potential buyers.
5. Make Your ‘Must Haves’ List
Buying your first home comes with a lot of choices, and it’s not always just location that you should think about. For instance what features and rooms do you absolutely need in a home, these might be different from the nice-to-have rooms. So how many bedrooms & bathrooms do you need?
Do you need a garage and/or a driveway? Are you able to live in a flat or must it be a house? Also bear in mind that this may only be your first move and not your last, so sometimes we have to compromise on our first home to then enable us to move up the property ladder later.
6. Start Hunting for Homes
Once your mortgage is pre-approved and you have done your numbers then it’s time to speak to agents, look online and maybe take a trip around the areas you like to see what for sale boards are up. This is when it starts to get very exciting for you and when dreams start to become reality.
7. Make an Offer
When you find the right home, make an offer as soon as you can as sometimes the good ones have a lot of people interested. Speak to your estate agent and have them draw up the purchase offer that you feel is acceptable to you. This is the time to also think about the “when”. When are you able to move, do you have to give notice on a current rental property etc. This is the time to get real.
8. Conduct Inspections
After your offer is accepted then your mortgage broker can help you to arrange for professional home inspections so you can avoid surprises later. And if any issues are found about the property, then this is the time you can have your estate agent contact the seller about repairs or of course this is the time to walk away and start looking again. This part of the process is to protect you, so however it goes, be it meaning you walk away or go ahead with the purchase, either way it is positive because it is all about you at this point.
9. Final Walkthrough
It’s almost time to exchange contracts to commit you to buying. Once you have exchanged contracts it means you are committed to buy and the sellers are committed to sell. This also means that your deposit is committed, so this is a serious thing to do. So just beforehand it’s a good idea to do a final walkthrough of the property to ensure no major changes have occurred since you last visited it and that everything is working. This is your last chance to bring up concerns.
10. Close and Move In!
The big day is finally here! You are ready to complete the purchase. This is now down to your solicitor, mortgage broker and mortgage lender. Between them they will be checking the documents and making sure everything is where it should be. All you have to do is wait for the call or email from the solicitor to tell you it is done. Then you can contact your estate agent and pick up your keys and move into your new home!
Article by Rob Starr, CEO Crunch Mortgages
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