What First Time Home Buyers Need To Know

*This is a collaborative post

Saving up for your first home is exciting. I can remember me and my other half scrimping and saving for a deposit. For two years we lived at his parents to save every spare penny we had. You do need to be in a mindset of saving, questioning everything you pick up. Do I actually need this? Or shall I put it in the savings pot? As you know I love to share my experiences, and the little knowledge I have with you all so I’ve written this post for those of you who are first time home buyers and what you need to know.

young couple who are first time buyers moving into their new home

Getting that first step onto the property ladder is a hard one. But once you are on it gets easier with moving up. Down here in Cornwall we have some of the most expensive houses in the country and with many second homes, it’s extremely hard to get on the property ladder. But, there are many first time buyers schemes out there that can help you on your way to owning your home. With so many great initiatives, shared ownership homes in Cornwall are proving particularly popular. This way you can have a smaller deposit so you are effectively buying a share of the property between 25% – 75% to begin with, and can pay rent on the remaining part. The great thing about the scheme is that when you are able to afford it, you can start buying back the remaining shares.

harbour in Cornwall

What First Time Home Buyers Need To Know

You need to have thought long and hard about making the commitment of owning a home. Is it the right time for you? Are you settling down and want to stay in the same place for a minimum of 5 years?

Buying your first home is down to what you can afford, It’s going to be the most expensive thing you will be buying. It’s also stressful, but we will touch on that later on.

The 3 main things you will need that I’ve learned through experience are:

  1. A regular job – Your mortgage advisor will need to see proof of your income. The longer you have been at your job also helps for stability. You have to prove your income and show evidence of your outgoings. So a good idea is to save up your last three months of bank statements and payslips as a minimum as well as any letters of any benefits you claim. If you are self-employed, you will need to show your last two tax returns and business accounts. Your income will be put through a “stress test” to show your ability to make your payments and buy a subject to contract (in simple words… a house) if the interest rates were to rise or if your circumstances changed. Such as a planned retirement date or if you started a family.
  2. Good Credit – Your credit history will be a big factor. The better your credit score the better mortgage rates will be available to you. Your debts will be also taken into consideration when applying for a mortgage.
  3. Deposit – We all know the higher your deposit the better it is as your mortgage repayments will be lower.

So to recap, to qualify for a mortgage they will take into account your salary, deposit, credit score and outstanding debts. Securing that initial mortgage in principle is key to letting estate agents know you are seriously looking to buy. There are a few good mortgage calculators out there just to give you an idea to play around with on what you could borrow. I used this affordability calculator when we were doing our research.

Once all the finances are sorted out, and you know your price range the fun bit starts.

Looking around for your first house

Have you thought about the location? It’s always the best place to start. My tip would be to drive around the location at different times of the day/week to see what it’s like to live there. An area could be different at weekends or evenings compared to during the week in the daytime.

young couple moving into new house

What do you want from your home? Do you want off-road parking? A garage? Large garden? These are all things you need to narrow down. We were lucky with our buying our first home as it was in the perfect location. But we had to compromise on parking (there was none!) and having a hill for a back garden. We knew at the time though it was only going to be a step up onto the property ladder and wasn’t a forever home. So we made compromises.

We bought a new build from a developer for our first home, but if you are looking on the open market, pop into as many local estate agents as you can. Let them know you are a first-time homebuyer so are not in a chain and can be flexible with move dates. This will be in your favor. Plus they will be the first to know when a new property comes onto the market and you could get the jump on others.

House viewings

When you go for your first house viewings, take your time and get a feel for the place. Snap your own photos, take measurements and ask questions. Take a notepad, pencil and measuring tape. Not forgetting your phone or camera for pictures. Have your list of questions written down so you don’t forget. It can get overwhelming in the moment and you may forget. Check for cracks, leaks, and guttering issues. I remember the second house we looked at stunk of cats and had an asbestos roof on the garage. I honestly couldn’t get out fast enough!

Research sold houses in the area

Before you make an offer, do your own research on the prices of houses that have sold recently in the area. This way you have evidence to back up your price you want to offer. We used the house prices tool on the Zoopla website, it was such a help.

Negotiate the price

Now you have done your research it’s time to put in the offer for the home you want. Don’t be a nervous first-time buyer, be confident, You have done the homework so you have the knowledge to negotiate. Plus you are in the position of not being in a chain with a house to sell, so you don’t have anything to lose.

You’ve bought your new home

Hopefully, your offer was accepted and if so, exciting times ahead getting ready for your move. It can be stressful as I mentioned earlier. But if you keep calm and organised you can do it.

Here are some of my posts that may be helpful to you now you are on the next stage.

Choosing the right moving company

How to make your home move less stressful

Avoid moving nightmares

How to organise moving house with young kids

I hope you have found this post useful for first time home buyers, I’ve enjoyed writing it adding in my experiences. Please do remember I’m not qualified to give any financial advice, I just love to write up my own thoughts and opinions.

Thanks for stopping by today, I hope you have found these tips on what first time buyers need to know useful.

rachel bustin
Thank you for sharing

2 thoughts on “What First Time Home Buyers Need To Know

  1. It’s important not to get put off by the current owner’s taste in decor. You can always repaint walls, change colours schemes, change the tiles, etc. What is more important is to make sure that structurally there are no serious issues, no damp, and no urgent repairs required, unless you are specifically in the market for a fixer-upper.

    1. Excellent read and points – one of the biggest purchases of your life – pays to do your homework

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