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Monday, 15 January 2018

What to Consider When Buying Your First Home

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There's no easy way to sugarcoat it - buying a home is a tense, stressful thing to do. Although the rewards may be great, the journey is a long and arduous one, particularly for first-time buyers who are unused to the process.

Now, I am by no means an expert, but what I lack in professionalism or technical details, I can more than make up for in first-hand experience. My boyfriend and I are currently in the process of buying our first home together (exciting times!) so what better time than the present to share my thoughts, tips, tricks and hints about the journey towards becoming first-time buyers?

Here are a few things to keep in mind and consider during the initial stages of searching for your ideal home and starting the buying process.

Research

You can never do enough research! As we keep being repeatedly told, buying a house is one of the most important financial commitments we will ever make, so it's important to do things right rather than rushing into a snap decision you may end up regretting later on down the line. Check out the area you want to live in and keep checking property sites on a regular basis in order to assess any newly-listed properties which match your criteria.

Viewings

Once you've decided on a property you like, it's time to book yourself a viewing. This is the perfect opportunity to assess the look and feel of the house and really get a feel for the atmosphere of the property. While the majority of us aren't going to be property experts, make sure to check out every inch of the building, both inside and out. Look out for anything that looks dodgy or in need of repair and do your best to take note of things which could be big red flags further down the line. Signs of damp, asbestos and structural damage are the big ones to look out for. It's also best to try and look past the current inhabitant's personal belongings and imagine your own furniture and possessions filling the room - can you imagine yourself living there?

Estate Agents

While it is likely that you won't get a choice when it comes to estate agents as a buyer, it's still important to make sure that you are happy with the agent in question. While big-name services might seem like the best way forward, sometimes you can find smaller independent estate agents in your local area which could provide a better level of service - you will be spending the next few months in contact with the agent you go with (at least!) so it's important that you are happy.

Offers

Found a house that you are happy with? Then it's time to consider taking the next step and submitting a formal offer on the property. When you are ready to submit an offer, contact your estate agent who will be able to take your details and help you set up the next few steps. While it's still uncertain whether or not your offer will be accepted at this stage, it's still a big step, so it's vital to ensure that you are absolutely sure before you commit to putting an offer in.

Mortgages

Once your offer has been put in and tentatively accepted, it's time to think about how you will finance your intended purchase. There are a number of schemes out there designed to help first-time buyers get on the property ladder but to be honest, we decided not to use any and simply went our own way. While you need the amount of your deposit to be readily available, most people choose a mortgage to finance the remainder of their purchase. The world of mortgages can be an incredibly complicated and confusing one and there are seemingly endless lenders and options out there, so in the end, we opted to employ the services of a mortgage broker recommended by the estate agent in order to ensure everything was sorted in a timely, professional manner.

Solicitors

One thing we didn't realise when we started the process was that we would need to appoint a solicitor so early on. Don't fall into the same trap that we did - instead, do plenty of research, contact a number of reputable solicitors in your local area and get some quotes to help you make your decision. Remember - legal jargon can be confusing at the best of times, so make sure to leave yourself plenty of time to carefully read the small print before you sign anything!

Possessions

As first-time buyers, it's likely that you won't have much in the way of furniture to go into your new home. Instead of leaving everything to the last minute then having to panic-buy the entire contents of a house in one go, it's best to try and pick things up throughout the process. Not only will this ensure that you are better prepared, it will also spread the cost and help you budget more efficiently. Keep your eyes peeled and be on the lookout for bargains - Facebook selling groups and sites like eBay can be a great way to find some real gems at bargain prices, but there are plenty of sales in-store and online at the moment too. Lastly, don't be afraid to ask around and enquire if any of your friends or family members have any furniture or essentials they don't need. We acquired a vast amount of our furniture thanks to the generosity of people we know, so it's always worth giving it a try.

Of course, it's worth mentioning that this is by no means a comprehensive guide and, similarly, no two property purchases are the same. From a personal standpoint we still have a long way to go before we finally get to move in together, but for the time being, I hope this mini guide proves to be at least some help for those of you out there who are in the same boat as me.

First-time house buying is never going to be a walk in the park, but by making sure that you are fully prepared and well-informed, there's no reason to make things more complicated than they need to be.

* This is a sponsored post

Are you looking to buy your first home? Do you have any helpful hints or tips? Share your advice in the comments below!

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