If you are entering the world of home ownership, our short guide will navigate you through the process of buying property in England and Wales as a first-time buyer. Buckle up, let’s explore
Step 1: Laying the Foundations
- Budgeting: Calculate affordability. Think about your current income, regular expenses, debts, and future financial commitments. Aim for a mortgage 3-5 times your annual income – and remember that mortgage rates can go up, so build in some flexibility.
- Deposit: Aim for a minimum 5% deposit, though 10-15% gives better deals and reduces your monthly payments. Consider government schemes like Help to Buy which offer assistance with deposits.
- Credit Check: Boost your credit score by paying all your bills on time, reducing your credit card debt, and avoiding new loans close to purchase time. Lenders look back at your financial records over time when deciding what rates to offer you, so maintaining a solid credit history will pay dividends for years to come.
Step 2: Finding Your Dream Home
- Location: Prioritize your needs – your commute, the amenities you need, the local community, and your plans for the future.
- Research: Use online portals and estate agents. Set realistic expectations based on your budget and the market conditions.
- Viewings: Be picky, ask questions, and take notes. Consider sunlight, noise levels, potential renovations, and the overall feel. If you like a property, look at it at different times of the day, and imagine how it would change through different seasons.
Step 3: Securing Your Mortgage
- Mortgage Advisor: Compare deals from different lenders to find the best interest rate and repayment terms.
- Mortgage in Principle: Get a preliminary mortgage approval to demonstrate your borrowing capacity and seriousness to sellers.
- Legal Stuff: Choose a conveyancing solicitor to handle the legal aspects like contracts and searches.
Step 4: Making an Offer & Negotiations
- Offer Price: Research comparable properties to avoid overpaying. Consider offering slightly below the asking price, you can research nearby selling prices on Zoopla
- Counter Offers: Be prepared to negotiate and compromise. Consider factors like the condition of the property and the seller’s urgency to sell. If they’re in a hurry, there may be a deal to be done.
- Acceptance: When your offer is accepted, celebrate! But prepare for a flurry of legal paperwork and surveys.
Step 5: Finalizing the Purchase
- Surveys: Arrange for a full home survey to assess the property’s condition and uncover any potential issues. Do not scrimp on your survey, it could save you thousands.
- Exchange of Contracts: This binds you and the seller legally to the purchase. Get final mortgage approval from your lender and prepare the remaining funds.
- Completion Day: Congratulations! You’re officially a homeowner. The estate agent hands over the keys, your mortgage payments start, and the decorating fun begins.
- Research Additional Costs: Don’t forget issues like Stamp Duty (or Land Transaction Tax in Wales), survey fees, conveyancing fees, removal costs, and potential renovations. There are a lot of expenses involved in moving into a new home, and it’s important to keep a track of them all.
- Get Insured: Secure buildings and contents insurance from the moment you have exchanged legally binding contracts to buy your new home.
- Ask For Help: Don’t hesitate to ask questions and seek professional advice from your mortgage advisor, solicitor, or estate agent.
Remember: Buying a property is a big decision. Take your time, be informed, and enjoy the journey.
Take a deep breath, and relax. The process will have bumps in the road, sometimes they are outside of your control. So pack your patience too.
This guide provides a roadmap, but you should always delve deeper into specific aspects based on your unique circumstances.
There’s a lot of free help out there, and it’s better to lose a house you can’t quite afford, or one that needs too much work, than to end up buying the Wrong Home.
Contact us for the legal side
If you would like to discuss the legal side of moving house, conveyancing, you can contact us and we would be happy to help you.
We have branches across England in Braintree, Brighton, Chelmsford, Croydon, Hornchurch, Solihull and Wickford, allowing our clients to communicate directly with their legal representatives or visit local branches for face-to-face meetings.