Buying a first home can be as daunting as it is exciting for first-time buyers but there are a number of simple steps people can take to prepare themselves and make the process as smooth as possible. 2019 could be the best year to get onto the property ladder, with some industry experts predicting that Brexit could cause house prices to drop further. So if getting onto the property ladder is your number-one new year’s resolution, read on for our step-by-step guide to the home-buying process, plus links for further information.
Saving for a deposit and other costs
Finding that all-important deposit will be the forefront in first-time buyers’ mind, so setting a savings goal to focus your efforts in the crucial first step in the process. Hopefully as a first time buyer, you’re saving into a Help to Buy ISA or Lifetime ISA, so that you can claim a government bonus of up to 25% when you buy. If you haven’t already, and you want to buy in the next few months, its worth opening a Help to Buy ISA before they’re withdrawn from the market in November 2019. Otherwise, you could opt for a lifetime ISA, but you need to have saved for a year to benefit from the bonus. As well as saving for a deposit, you need to think about the additional costs involved with buying a home, including surveying charges, moving costs and solicitor fees. There is also stamp duty to consider in some cases. First time buyers are exempt from stamp duty on properties up to £300,000 but there are still charges if properties are priced above this threshold, something which is particularly relevant to buyers in London.
A mortgage is a home loan which you pay off gradually each month over the course of a set number of years, known as a mortgage term. Most mortgage lenders will offer you a maximum of between 3 and 4.5 times the combined annual incomes of you and any other people you’re buying with. Speaking to a mortgage broker could help as this will ensure you have access to a broad range of deals. Checking your credit score is a must before considering taking out a mortgage as this will be the deciding factor in whether you are accepted for the loan and what rate you are offered. You should always make sure all the information is accurate and up to date. You can enhance your credit score by paying off an outstanding debts and being meticulous about meeting agreed payments such as utility or mobile phone bills. Also ensue you are making more than the minimum payment on credit cards in the six months prior to your mortgage application.
Choosing the right property
According to the Post Office, three fifths of properties sold in 2018 were in areas affordable for first-time buyers. Understanding the rate at which a property sells in the area you are looking to buy could also help you negotiate on price and also help to plan for additional costs, which has created a rate of sale map to help buyers. Being prepared to compromise is also a vital quality in a successful first-time buyers and, as adjusting your expectations and having a flexible approach is important.
Research the area and start the house hunting
If you don’t already live in the area you’re thinking of buying in, try and stay there for a couple of nights to see if its definetly somewhere you want to live. Test your commute and check out what the atmosphere and noise levels are like at different times of day and night. For many people, the hunt begins with setting up search alerts on a portals such as Rightmove. But while this is a sensible place to start, it shouldn’t be where your research stops. You’ll need to register with estate agents and start going on real-life viewings to really get a feel for the types of homes available for your budget. Contacting local property developers in the area is a great way to get a first look at available property on the market, in the coming months. Buying property from developers not only cuts fees with estate agents, but also allows you to have your home finished personalised to you.
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