Seven tips for buying your first flat

flat

 

If you’re moving closer to getting that first step on the property ladder it might be time to start thinking about the details of your first purchase. It can be very challenging and stressful, so here are seven tips for buying your first flat.

Make use of the help-to-buy ISA

One of the things that holds people back from getting their first property is that they struggle to save up the deposit. Most mortgage providers require an absolute minimum of 10 per cent of your mortgage, so if you’re looking at a property in the region of £180,000, you’ll need a minimum of £18,000 as a deposit.

If finding that kind of money sounds like quite a challenge you’ll be pleased to know that you can take advantage of the government’s Help to Buy ISA scheme. If you save with the ISA, the government will add 25 per cent to your savings – so for every £200 you save, the government will put in an extra £50. You can get a maximum of £3,000 bonus from the government. So if £18,000 was the deposit you need, you would only have to actually find £15,000 and the government would add the rest.

Consider less conventional living

Many people love the idea of moving out into their own place. But buying a flat on your own is very expensive and can simply stretch the budget too far. But what do you do if you want to move out but don’t have a partner to share the cost with? To get on the property ladder it might be worth considering a less conventional living situation. For example, you could move in with a sibling or friend. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a long term situation but it could work out very well if you both want to move out and need somewhere to live. This would also make it easier to afford the deposit, if you are both willing to put money in.

Take your time

Remember when you go to look at properties that you’ve got plenty of time. There’s no need to rush into making a purchase that isn’t perfect for you. Make sure you look at a large number of properties before you commit to anything and if you like the look of a flat, go back for a second viewing to be sure.

Leasehold or freehold

For the majority of first-time buyers, they will looking at flats. If that’s the situation for you too then it’s important for you to know the difference between leasehold and freehold. Most flats will be leasehold. In principal this means that someone else owns the building itself and you are actually leasing the space form them. The alternative is that you will own a share of the freehold. On the surface owning a share of the freehold is the preferable option as you never have to worry about your lease coming to an end. However you should be aware that as a freeholder you will be partly responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the building.

Have a survey completed

There is a school of thought that says if you’re buying a flat, you don’t need to worry about having a full survey carried out. The reason is that if you don’t own the building itself, any structural issues are not necessarily your concern. However, even if this is the case, if any structural problems do start to cause problems in the flat, it can take a long time to have them fixed.

It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so have a full survey carried out before you buy. At the very least it could give you negotiating power to lower the price.

Get a solicitor you can trust

Having your conveyancing work carried out can be a very nervous and frustrating time. For long periods you can feel like you have heard nothing and you don’t know what is happening. You should make sure that you hire a solicitor that you trust to complete the work – this way it will cause you as little stress as possible.

Don’t panic about the future

There can be a tendency to worry too much about the future. Yes, we’ve got the economic uncertainty of Brexit hanging over us and a relatively fragile world economy, but it’s important to know that no-one can predict the future, and that property remains by far one of the safest investments around.

Written by Julie Hanson

Julie is passionate about property – development, investment and portfolio planning. Along with husband Alec, Julie is actively building a property portfolio while helping others to do the same.

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