Buying your first home? Here’s our first-time buyer checklist

It’s no secret that we’re living through one of the most difficult times to be a first-time buyer. To help you to take your first steps onto the property ladder, we’ve outlined some of the most critical ways to stay organised in the process.

1. Budgeting

You’ll need to spend some time thinking over just how much money you can spend on your new home. Even if you have high expectations, it’s important to be realistic with what you can afford.

Government data shows that the average house price for a first-time buyer was £243,705 in July 2022, compared to £236,783 in May. With an increase of almost 3% in just two months, these figures reflect the challenging nature of the current market, especially for first-time buyers.

2. Saving for your deposit

Keep saving up for your deposit. The more that you save to contribute towards your house deposit, the less that you’ll need to borrow in the long term.

However, the latest, most concerning obstacle faced by first-time buyers is the unprecedented rise in mortgage interest rates. In December 2021, the average two-year fixed deal was just 2.34% – but today’s buyers will face rates closer to 6% as lenders increase the cost of home loans.

Mortgage lenders favour borrowers whom they consider low-risk, which automatically puts first-time buyers at a disadvantage. Still, if you’ve saved enough money to pay a larger deposit, you’ll be much more likely to be taken seriously.

3. Extra costs and commitments

The cost of the house itself will be a major commitment but you’ll also need to remember the additional steps involved. You’ll need to pay legal fees and, if you’ve used a letting agent to help to buy your home, you’ll need to put some money towards that, too.

Be proactive and make sure that you’ve got a healthy credit score before you reach out to lenders and start applying for a mortgage.

4. Local research

If you’re moving to a new town or area, buying a new house there might be daunting. We’d suggest spending one or two nights in your prospective new neighbourhood to get a feel for your commute, the local shops and businesses, and the general atmosphere.

Depending on your personal situation, it could also be worth thinking about local school catchment areas, public transport links and any drawbacks – including flood risk and proposed plans for new infrastructure nearby.

5. View properties in person

Lastly, we’d advise against making offers on any property that you’ve only seen online or via FaceTime.

It’s crucial to inspect your possible future home, not only to gain an understanding of its potential as a practical, liveable space, but also to see if you get that instant feeling of home that can’t be achieved over a video call.

Try to persevere and be patient – buying and moving house is a long and tiresome process, but it will be worth it eventually!


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