6 Tips to Help You Buy Your First Home

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For many people, owning their own home is the ultimate goal to aspire to. However, and understandably so, rising property prices have put many people off – until now perhaps.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics have shown that the average house price growth in the UK is starting to slow down. The April 2015 House Price Index has indicated that the average price of a house increased by 5.5% in the year from April 2014. This rise was slower than the 9.6% average rise between the months of March 2014 and 2015. Those who are looking at taking a step towards buying their first home will be particularly cheered by this news, as it shows how average house price growth slowed across the majority of the country, particularly in London, where the average price increase dropped below the UK average for the first time in nine years.

While house prices in the UK are still far from ideal, the slowing of the average price growth may prompt a lot of first-time buyers to kickstart their efforts to get on the first rung of the property ladder. If you’re one of these fresh faced first-timers, then read on for our six tips on how to survive the house buying process for the very first time.

Save, save, save

All first-time buyers will already know that this is the main step towards securing the ultimate goal of owning your very own home, but we’re here just to re-iterate its importance. Of course, there’s the deposit for your house, but don’t forget about the other often hidden costs of becoming a homeowner. There will be conveyancing fees for the solicitors who sort out all the legal paperwork, paying for a survey (absolutely essential, to ensure the house of your dreams isn’t falling apart) and possibly stamp duty, if you’re buying a house that costs more than £125,000, and this list isn’t exhaustive! Very rarely can you come up with a fixed sum to cover your moving costs and then save this specific amount – it doesn’t work like that. There are usually costs that you hadn’t anticipated, and it’s best to be prepared by saving more than you think you’ll need.

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Do your research

In today’s internet-fuelled world, you’ll find plenty of useful information provided by housing industry experts, mortgage advisers and other first-time buyers who’ve already trodden the path you’re now attempting to negotiate. Learn as much as you possibly can about all things mortgages and houses, including what the latest interest rates are, and what to look out for when you visit a house for sale for the very first time. There’s no denying that this is the boring bit, but it certainly is important. You wouldn’t go into an exam unprepared, so why enter the house buying process without being equipped with the knowledge to get you through it?

Keep it cool

Even if from the moment you step over the threshold you absolutely love a particular house, remember to keep your cool and not lose your head. Avoid thinking of it as your dream house and definitely don’t start measuring curtains in your mind or talking with your partner about where you think the couch should go. Not only will this give signals to the seller that you could be an easy win, but it will make it so much harder if you run into problems.

If you’re looking with a partner, friend or even a family member, make sure you have some time alone with them away from the seller or the estate agent to either look around yourself, or simply discuss your thoughts. Often, someone objective like a family member or friend can see things that you, blinded by first-time buyer excitement, may miss. You may not have noticed the damp in the master bedroom or even the fact that a busy bus stop is right outside.

Two generation family looking at a house for sale

Stick to your guns

This doesn’t mean you should snap your metaphorical wallet shut and refuse to even approach the asking price on a house, (this is no time to be cheap!) but don’t be afraid to do some good old-fashioned haggling when it comes to the price. Yes it may feel a little awkward but everyone does it; it’s just part of the process. If other houses in the area haven’t sold for as much or if the survey has revealed a few defects, then haggling is a must. Remember that this is the biggest investment you will make in your entire life, if you never ask you will never know! And if you have really fallen head over heels in love with a home, don’t give it up! Unless of course the ceiling is caving in, then maybe you should walk away.

Get help

Whether it’s the pride talking or our desire to not spend more on third-party help when we’re already spending so much, but many of us think we can do it all ourselves. Maybe you do have the wherewithal to negotiate a favourable price, do the research, find insurance and even do all the legal work, but let’s face it, many of us will need help. Speaking to a mortgage adviser is just one of the simplest steps you can take to ensure that your journey towards home ownership is as smooth as possible. They will help to find the right mortgage to suit your earnings and outgoings, and will guide you through the process from beginning to end.

Sure, going with your dad’s mate who once did a bit of conveyancing or doing it all yourself might save you some money, but how can you be sure that it will all be done correctly? Professional conveyancing solicitors will know exactly what needs to be done, and will know what red flags to look out for. They will conduct local authority searches to find out if a new motorway will go right by your new home, water and mining searches, they will check with Land Registry and legally negotiate with the other side. So yes, you may save a few quid by cutting back, but it probably won’t be worth it in the long run.

Don’t give up hope!

Every single person or couple who have ever bought a home will be able to tell you their own horror story about the process. We don’t say this to put you off; we tell you this so that you won’t give up when the going gets tough. Problems crop up all the time; from small hiccups like paperwork delays to larger issues like offer disagreements, but that doesn’t mean the whole thing will fall through.

The process of buying a house can be an unpredictable and often long one, with some people completing their purchase in just a couple of months, while others find that it can take up to a year to complete. But don’t give up! Remember that you’ve scrimped and saved for months, endured countless meetings and phone calls and viewed dozens of houses just to find this perfect one. Trust us, it will all be worth it in the end.

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