Take a look at our top tips when you’re preparing to become a first-time buyer
Getting ready to purchase your first home can be a really exciting time, but if you can start preparing several months before you’re even ready to look at houses, this can make things go so much more smoothly when the time does come to make your property purchase.
Save as much as you can for your deposit and buying costs
While most first-time buyers roughly know how much of a deposit they’ll need to save to buy their property (usually 5-10% of the purchase price as a minimum), taking the other costs associated with buying into account can be something that falls by the wayside until late in the process, when it can be more difficult to fund these things.
Buying a home means paying other costs, such as solicitor fees and conveyancing costs, potentially stamp duty (depending on the value of the property being purchased), as well as things like moving costs, spending on essential furniture and fittings and things like changing locks on the day you get the keys. It’s also a good idea to have an emergency fund if possible just in case something unexpected happens during the buying or move-in process.
If you’re eligible, you might be able to open a Lifetime ISA, where the government will give you a 25% bonus on savings towards buying your first home.
Check your credit report
Sometimes people don’t know that they have potential problems on their credit file until they try to get a mortgage and are turned down. Checking your credit report at least six months before starting the process of buying a property is a good idea, and means that when it comes to getting a mortgage, you’re better informed as to any potential issues and can look for a specialist broker to help.
There are three main credit agencies in the UK that are used by mortgage lenders to help them decide on the risk level of lending to you. It’s important to note that the credit score, the number that each agency will give you, isn’t important to lenders and won’t be seen by them. The important part is your actual credit report, which tells potential mortgage lenders how well you manage credit over the last few years. Any missed payments for bills, any loans you have defaulted on, the amount of borrowing you currently have and a wealth of other information is included in your credit file, so it’s important that you check this and make sure that all of the information is correct. If there is a mistake on your credit report, it could result in you being rejected for a mortgage or limit your access to any borrowing, so this could be really important for soon-to-be first-time buyers.
You can check your credit reports for free by signing up with these three sites, for the three different credit agencies that mortgage lenders usually use.
Experian – The MoneySavingExpert Credit Club will give you free access to this report.
Equifax – Signing up to Clearscore will give you free access to this report.
TransUnion – Using Credit Karma will give you free access to this report.
Taking some simple steps, such as making sure you are on the electoral roll at your current address, can make a significant difference to your credit report, along with making sure you stay up to date with all payments for bills and borrowing.
Set your property budget range
While speaking to a mortgage advisor and getting a mortgage agreement in principle is the best way to get an accurate picture of how much you can borrow, you can use some free tools online to do a quick check. Most simple mortgage calculators will ask you for your earnings, along with those of anyone else who will be on the mortgage (such as a partner/spouse), the amount of deposit you have available to you and can give you a range based on this. However, this is meant to just be a guide, because mortgages also take affordability into account, so your existing financial commitments, to ensure that you’ll be able to afford repayments. The checks will look at not only affordability now, but also potential affordability in the future if interest rates were to change.
To get a rough idea, you can use the simple calculator on Money Saving Expert.
If you are eligible, you may also be able to use one of the government-backed home ownership schemes.
Once you know the range that you might be able to borrow, you can take your house hunting up a level. It’s worth considering whether you will be best suited to buy a home that needs some work if that will enable you to borrow less and you can do the work needed over a longer period.
Connect with an experienced local estate agent
A great idea for making sure you find out about properties in your chosen area that come onto the market as soon as possible is to speak to your local estate agent and ensure that they know what you’re looking for. In a competitive market, getting to know about new properties before they go online can make all the difference if you find somewhere you love and want to get the deal done quickly.
Be realistic about timescales
While in some cases, it’s possible to get a property purchase done and dusted in a matter of weeks, this is very rare. Even what can seem like straightforward circumstances e.g. chain-free, can sometimes take longer than expected, so it’s more realistic to think in terms of months rather than weeks.
The process of applying for and securing a mortgage alone can often take several weeks, and then the surveys, appraisals, legal work, local searches and all of the other paperwork can also take a significant amount of time. For particularly complicated situations, buying a home could take up to a year or even longer, but most are likely to take somewhere between four months and eight months.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
When looking for your first home, there could well be lots of processes that you’re unfamiliar with and it’s absolutely expected that you will have some questions. Your friendly local estate agency will be happy to help you with questions that you might have, so just ask.
If you’re looking for your first property in the Flintshire area, we’d love to help you. Take a look at our properties for sale.