Buying your first property is a big decision. It’s not something that should be done lightly and there’s plenty to think about, too. They’ll likely be some big questions to consider, and as the process goes on you’ll also find some bumps in the road and unexpected fees or hoops to jump through.
For that very reason, WEST-The Property Consultancy has put together this guide for first time buyers, who may need a little hand holding to work out the ins and outs of house buying. They do say it can be one of the most stressful things you can do – but WEST-The Property Consultancy are here to help. For help and advice, no matter how big or small, we’re here.
At WEST-The Property Consultancy, we pride ourselves on being trusted agents who know a thing or two about the property industry. We’re driven to get results for our buyer and seller, and to help you make those first steps to buying your first property, here’s some first-time buyers FAQs, answered.
The first question you need to ask yourself;
This might seem an obvious one, but there are plenty of extras and additional costs involved in moving, which collectively do start to add up.
You’ll need to consider:
A first-time buyer is anyone who is purchasing a property, having never previously owned a free hold or leasehold interest in a residential property in the UK, or abroad. Essentially, you are coming to the market with no overheads in terms of existing property.
Top Tip: If you’re a first-time buyer with a ‘mortgage in principle’, make sure you mention this when you meet sellers. It puts you in a good position, as it means you can move things forward quickly.
Mary West at The Money Consultancy can offer advice covering a comprehensive range of mortgages from across the market, and could save you valuable time, effort and money. You can find their website here or ring 01865 553039.
As a first-time home buyer, the most important thing to bear in mind is whether you can really afford to take this step.
Put together a budget before you start looking for a property. This will help you to work out your monthly affordability. Consider all outgoings and overheads, as well as those pesky additional fees we mentioned earlier.
Lenders will only make a mortgage available to you if they think you can feasibly afford it. They will consider your outgoings, income and make a decision based on this.
This isn’t a bad thing as this is more to ensure you don’t get caught up with a property you can’t afford! Lenders will also ‘stress test’ your ability to make your payments if interest rates were to rise or if your circumstances changed, such as:
We mentioned these earlier, but can’t stress enough how these can affect your financial position.
Stamp Duty is a tax attached to buying a property. It is an obligatory payment and is calculated based on property purchase price.
0% on the first £125,000 = £0
2% on the next £125,000 = £2,500
5% on the final £25,000 = £1,250
First-time-buyers will pay no Stamp Duty on the first £300,000 for properties worth up to £500,000.
If you’re a first-time buyer in England or Northern Ireland, you don’t have to pay stamp duty on properties up to £300,000. This is known as first time buyer relief, and it can save you up to £5,000. For properties up to £500,000, no stamp duty is needed on the first £300,000. You’ll pay remaining on any amount above that.
Be careful you don’t overstretch yourself when buying a property. You need to be sure you’re able to cope with the financial ties of owning a property. It is wonderful to be able to call a place your own, but the above considerations will need to be made, as will the matter of interest rates and ongoing costs such as:
There are several government backed schemes to help give home buyers a helping hand onto the property ladder. These can be of significant help, but lenders will check if you can afford your mortgage.
There are affordable schemes to help first time buyers and home buyers. These include the Help to Buy scheme.
The scheme involves an equity loan, where the government lends both first time buyers and existing homeowner’s money to buy a new build home.
From 2021, there will also be new regional price caps which could reduce the maximum value of homes that can be bought through the Equity Loan Scheme.
If you want to buy a house, it’s likely you’ll buy the freehold, meaning you own the property and land it sits on. If you’re buying a flat, you’ll be buying leasehold, or buying into a share of the freehold.
House viewing: Hints and tips
It’s important to make the most of every house viewing to scope out the house, and get an idea of the technicalities. It can be easy to get caught up emotionally when it comes to viewings, and want to sign on the dotted lie immediately! Before you do, though, it’s worth considering the following.
Questions to ask at a house viewing
Get a feel for their current position, as this will help you determine how motivated they are to move. If you offer no chain, are first time buyers, and come with a mortgage in principle, you may find your sale goes through far more quickly than it might otherwise.
This is very relevant as it will give you an idea of the homeowner’s position going forward. If it has been on the market for a long time, you have to ask yourself why? But it also may open opportunities of a lower offer.
For some parking is essential. Ask about off road parking, too, and if necessary, contact your local council to find out how you can get a designated space.
Ask the agent what Council Tax band the property is in, and also have a look at the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), to see how energy efficient the house is. The EPC will tell you the current rating from A-G and the potential rating it could be if the energy efficiency is improved. Note that Listed buildings are exempt from Energy Performance Certificates for a property sale.
The chain is a vital part of buying a property. A long chain can lead to lengthy waiting periods as everyone gets their affairs in order. The smaller the chain the better, so consider this into your final decision about putting an offer down.
Get as much information as you can here. For example, will any white goods, such as a dishwasher or washing machine, be included in the price? Having these essentials already in the house will make the move feel a lot smoother as you spend the following days and weeks unpacking. Consider furnishings such as the curtains, the carpet, bed frame… you never know, some property owners may leave more than you think!
- Get a feel for the local area
Try and get your bearings – read public forums, have a drive around, check out local shops, schools, and amenities. This will help to paint a picture of what it would be like to live there, and whether it would suit your lifestyle.
- Be thorough. Check the plumbing, check for mould, consider the garden space, and ask about the neighbours. Make the most of the house viewing to really scope out any concerns you may have – this can help to avoid you getting caught out later on.
- Ask what work has been done on the house. Collect all receipts and guarantees related to any work carried out on the property.
You should commission a survey on the property to help you avoid hidden costly problems in the long run. It’s your property, so it’s in your interest to pay for a decent survey at this stage. It can also help you in renegotiations, if a major issue is highlighted. For example, if the survey reveals a problem with the property that will need £5,000 to pay for repairs, you could ask the seller to lower the price by this amount, or make a contribution but we as agents are best to advise you in these matters.
There are several types of survey available:
If there are any questions you would like answered get in touch with WEST–The Property Consultancy today on 01865 510000 or speak to one of our team, Nikki directly on 07964 544798 / firstname.lastname@example.org. We are here to advise buyers and sellers alike - however big or small your question, just get in touch today!