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5 Top Tips for First Time Home Buyers

Buying your first home can be exciting, daunting and downright confusing. These are our 5 top tips for first-time buyers to guide you through this complex process and help you get onto the property ladder.


1. Make Sure You Can Afford It

Before you buy your first home, you need to make sure you can afford it. You need to afford a deposit of 5%-20% of the property price, and the more you put down the better, as you’ll get a better rate on your mortgage. Your ability to get a mortgage depends on your deposit, salary, and debts. Lenders will also check whether you can afford the monthly repayments if interest rates were to rise or your circumstances changed. You also need to factor in additional costs such as legal fees, stamp duty, the cost of surveys, moving costs, and the cost of living.


2. Get Help with Government Schemes

The government has a variety of schemes on offer which can help you purchase your first home. A Lifetime ISA offers a tax-free boost of up to £1,000 per year towards buying a house. Likewise, with the Help to Buy ISA, the government gives you £50 for every £200 you save. You could opt for Shared Ownership, in which you purchase a share of a home from a Housing Association and pay rent on the other part you don’t own. Each of these is designed to give you a helping hand with getting onto the property ladder, so utilise them all you can.


3. Search for Homes

Once you know your budget and what properties you can afford you can begin searching for homes. Start with location and think about what you want and need from a property. Use this list to find your perfect home by filtering property type, no. of bedrooms, price, and any keywords specific to your ideal property.


4. View Properties

Next, you need to view properties to make sure the property is right for you. When viewing homes, look out for key factors such as damp, aspect, neighbourhood, room size, noise, electrics and services, garden, cracks in walls and ceilings, leaks, parking, drainage, security, the condition of the property, and potential to make it your home. Using a checklist like this can help you identify any warning signs of the property and help you assess whether you can imagine yourself living there.


5. Get a Survey

Before buying a house you need an RICS survey so that you’re certain of what you’re investing into. A Homebuyer Survey assesses the property’s value, its overall condition, and highlights any maintenance that might need to be carried out urgently. The Building Survey reviews all aspects of the property, including interior, exterior, materials and services. The surveyor will let you know if you need contractors like a plumber, electrician, etc. This survey is recommended if you are planning major works as it analyses all faults and the cost to repair them. A Specific Defect Survey evaluates any specific structural issues with the property and advises how to rectify them.

If you’re buying your first home, follow these tips to guide you through the complex process and get on the property ladder: make sure you can afford to buy a home; be sure to utilise government schemes to give you a helping hand; search for homes online and offline; view properties to make sure it feels like home; and finally, get a survey completed to ensure you fully know what you’re buying.