Buying a house for the very first time is an exciting milestone, but can also be a daunting process. There are tonnes of things you need to consider and prepare before you even begin to get the ball rolling. (And I don’t just mean whereabouts to position your sofa for the perfect cosy night in.)
Here are seven simple tips that might just help…
1. Remember the extra fees and save more than just a deposit 💰
Save save, save. And then save some more. It’s so easy to find yourself fixated on that 10% deposit you need to put down on a house, that you find you forget all of the other costs and fees that come as part and parcel of jumping on the property ladder. There are solicitor fees, legal fees, valuation fees… the list can seem quite endless.
So, do yourself a favour and save past your deposit. It might mean waiting a little while longer to get the ball rolling, but it’s going to make your life a whole lot easier.
2. Be prepared for house viewings to not be as fun as they first seem 🏡
The idea of viewing houses while on the hunt for your dream home may be utterly appealing to you at first – imagining which wall your TV is gonna go on, what meals you’ll be cooking in your kitchen, and where you’re gonna put up your Christmas tree year on year – and while it certainly starts off quite fun, you’ll soon find yourself getting bored of nodding and smiling politely while endless estate agent jargon flies through your ears for what feels like the millionth time.
But it’s totally worth it once you’ve found the one!
3. Make sure your credit score is good… ✅
It will come as no shock to you that, when applying for a mortgage, lenders will have a good old delve into your credit score, to have a gander at how you’ve handled any borrowing in the past. So, before you even think about applying, make sure to check yours out. (ClearScore is a popular choice.)
If your score is good, then no need to worry! If not, make a solid effort to start making debt repayments on time, and close any unused credit accounts. If you’ve never borrowed before (and thus don’t have a score!), open a credit account and start using it… just make sure to pay off the balance in full each month!
4. Negotiation is a first-time buyer’s friend… don’t be afraid to do it! 🗣
As a first-time buyer, you have a certain advantage that people who already own property don’t: you have no chain. This is super appealing to sellers as it usually means selling to a first-time buyer promises to have fewer hurdles, making it a smoother and quicker transaction.
So if you see something in the house that might need work, or perhaps have noticed the property has been listed for a while with no successful sale yet, then don’t be afraid to use that fact to haggle the price. Or just be cheeky and haggle regardless. I did just that and got my house for £16,000 less than the original asking price!
5. Do some major number crunching before signing for anything 🧮️
Once you’ve found the house you want and are ready to get the ball rolling, it’s time to get your numbers hat on and crunch, crunch, crunch… and then crunch some more! It goes without saying that you should definitely start by estimating your mortgage affordability based on your income, but then it’s time to start taking gas, electric, and water rates into account.
Once that’s done, don’t forget you’re likely going to need an internet connection, chances are you’ll want Netflix, you’re going to need to invest in smoke alarms, perhaps you’ll even wanna go old-school and have a landline… and all of these cost extra pennies too. So really go granular with the maths before you buy… you’ll thank yourself for it.
6. Have all of your documents prepped and at the ready 📝
When it comes to buying a house, solicitors, lenders, insurers, and anyone else getting involved along the way want to really make sure you are who you say you are. So, as well as the standard ID and proof of address, you need to be prepared for your mortgage advisor to start asking you for way more bits of paperwork. Think payslips, bank statements, and insurances.
Get it all prepped before they even have to ask and you’ll find the process a lot swifter!
7. Don’t be afraid to ask questions along the way 💬
Let’s be honest: buying a house could end up being one of the most complicated and stressful processes you deal with as a young adult, especially when it’s your first one. With all of the information, paperwork, and jargon thrown your way, it’s easy to find yourself overwhelmed. But don’t be afraid to ask questions; it may be second nature to all of the advisors, solicitors, and estate agents, but they understand it isn’t the same for you. So use their knowledge, and ask away!