Following their lockdown experiences it’s no wonder that many are re-evaluating their living arrangements and, for some, it’s led to the decision to buy a property, perhaps for the first time. It’s an exciting prospect but can also be quite daunting and why Reeds Rains has come up with the top five stages any first time home buyer should consider.
1. Think about the kind of property you'd like to buy
Whilst our finances often dictate what property we can afford, it’s still worth having a list of the key features you’d like. Think about the essentials first, the number of bedrooms you’ll need, the location (if you need to be near work, transport links or local facilities), whether you need a space to work from home - then move on to the ‘nice to have’s'. Perhaps a bigger kitchen or dining room to entertain, outdoor space, a spare bedroom etc. It helps focus attention when searching for properties and you’ll soon gain an understanding of what you can get for your money, and where.
2. Start your research
Next it’s about understanding the costs that might be involved in buying and being a first time homeowner. A budget planner will help you to understand your current outgoings and what money you may have available for mortgage repayments. Don’t forget too that there will be additional money required, initially, for a deposit, for solicitor fees, for stamp duty (if they apply), surveys as well as removal costs. Unfortunately it can run in to £000’s – but a good financial adviser can advise you on this. As a homeowner you’ll also need to budget for insurances, council tax, utilities, broadband, new furniture and then possible maintenance/repair and improvement costs. On the positive side, however, hopefully you’ll feel that this is money well spent if the property appreciates in value over time.
3. Getting a mortgage as a first time buyer and what help is available for first time buyers
It’s really important to gain the advice of a qualified financial adviser, ideally one that has access to a range of mortgage products from different lenders - like Embrace Financial Services (*) - rather than just one high street lender. This could give you more options and, in some cases, mean you can gain support from specialist lenders who offer mortgages that ‘fit’ your particular circumstances i.e. if you or your partner are self-employed.
They will be able to provide options for the type of mortgage you would qualify for, based on your current circumstances and your finances, and then support you in filling out applications and gaining a mortgage in principle, which basically provides evidence that you are eligible for a mortgage.
There’s a really handy mortgage guide available on the Reeds Rains website that will provide a good starting point and arm you with information that could make you discussions easier. There’s also details about the government’s Help to Buy Scheme and Mortgage Guarantee Scheme that may provide help to you as a first time buyer.
At this stage too, think about the solicitor you might use – you can often gain advice from your financial adviser or perhaps from friends or family.
4. Finding a property and the buying process begins
Knowing you have your finances in place means you can start your search – perhaps through a virtual viewing at first and then, if you are serious about buying a property, you might want to arrange an ‘in-person’ viewing (either unaccompanied or accompanied), following the strict guidelines that the agent, like Reeds Rains, should have in place. The viewing is important for you establish the condition and size of the property – both inside and outside – its location and whether it offers all you are looking for.
Once you find your dream property it’s time to make an offer, via the estate agent and then, fingers crossed, gaining acceptance from the seller - which usually happens within a day or so.
You’ll then notify your financial adviser and the process of officially applying for your mortgage can begin. Don’t forget too to instruct your solicitor who’ll then be able to organise for local authority searches of the property etc. to begin. You should also instruct a survey to be completed on the property at this stage to ensure there are no hidden problems with it and identify if you need to budget for remedial work. e.surv, our sister company, may be able to assist you with a survey.
5. The final stage of becoming a first time homeowner
People often ask how long it takes to buy a house from offer to completion but it depends on how quickly queries and paperwork are handled by all parties concerned. On average it takes between six to 16 weeks, less if it’s more straightforward, but in some cases, the seller might request that the sale is delayed if their onward purchase is being held up – you often have to accept this. The exchange of the property will come first (when all paperwork has been signed and the deposit is paid) followed by completion of the purchase which can be on the same day or, more usual, within around two weeks.
In advance you’ll need to make sure you have building insurance organised for the exchange date onwards and decide how you’ll physically move your belongings to the new property – and book removal firms or friends and family, as needed. As a first time buyer you might want to delay moving in until any remedial work is completed on the property or until you complete some decoration.
Once you’re in your new property, however, that’s the time to look back, celebrate and realise, we hope, just how great it is to be a new homeowner.
If you’d like support in finding a property as a first time buyer, why not contact one of our branches for support – they will be more than happy to offer their help.
Please note different stages apply in Scotland.
YOUR PROPERTY MAY BE REPOSSESSED IF YOU DO NOT KEEP UP REPAYMENTS ON YOUR MORTGAGE.
Embrace Financial Services usually charges a fee for mortgage advice. The amount of the fee will depend upon your circumstances and will be discussed and agreed with you at the earliest opportunity.