Top tips for buying your first home

Buying your first home is one of life’s milestones, and it’s exciting and stressful in equal measure. We’ve compiled some top tips to help you navigate the tricky waters of getting onto the property ladder as smoothly as possible.

Know what you can afford

Before you even start looking at houses, it’s important to understand exactly what you can afford and work out a budget. See a mortgage advisor, who’ll be able to give you an indication of how much you’ll be able to borrow, and get a mortgage agreement in principle, as this will put you in a stronger position to make offers.

When you’re drawing up your budget, don’t forget to factor in the costs associated with moving, such as solicitors’ fees, survey, removal companies, new furniture and so on. The good news is that if you’re a first time buyer, you won’t pay Stamp Duty on the first £300,000 if the property you’re buying is worth up to £500,000.

At this stage, it’s also worth looking into the Help to Buy scheme to see how this affects what you can afford.

Narrow your search

Having worked out how much you can spend on your first home, you can start hunting for properties. It will help narrow your search if you have a clear idea of what you’re looking for, as there are many more factors that will affect your search than just budget.

As well as the obvious things – like location and number of bedrooms – what else do you want from your first home? Perhaps you’re longing for a garden or need space to entertain. Draw up a list of what your ideal home would look like; even if you can’t find a property that meets every requirement, you will at least have an objective way of comparing potential homes.

Make the most of viewings

See a property at least twice if you like it on first viewing. The first viewing is all about getting a feel for the place, while the second is for taking a more objective look at the property and addressing its suitability and any potential problems. Take our home-buyers’ checklist with you, and don’t be afraid to go armed with a list of questions to ask the estate agent.

Putting in an offer

Even if you’ve fallen in love with a property, it’s important to keep your cool when it comes to putting in an offer. You’re in a good position to negotiate because you don’t already have a house to sell, and if you have a mortgage agreement in principle, you’re an attractive buyer.

Get your home insurance in place

As soon as you exchange contracts, you’ll be responsible for insuring your new home, so make sure you’re ready to take out a buildings insurance policy as soon as this happens. Then you’ll need to arrange contents insurance from when you move in. Call one of our local insurance experts today to find out more.