Buying your first property is an exciting time, but more often than not you'll have no idea what it involves or how long it takes from making an offer to getting the keys. We've got some top tips on how to prepare and what to expect.
Mortgages and Budgets
Firstly take a look at your budget, from what you have set aside for the deposit and what your monthly outgoings are. It really helps to speak to a mortgage advisor at this point, who can give you a realistic idea of your options based on your own personal circumstances.
Once you know where you stand, if you're ready to start looking you should get a mortgage offer in principal. Having this in place will mean if you do find the home of your dreams you can make an offer and show that your finances are in place and that you are ready to proceed. This is very important to potential vendors, they may be moving on to their new dream house and knowing everyone is ready to proceed will make you a very attractive prospect indeed!
Start looking at solicitors. Before you find a property. Ask for reccomendations of good conveyancers, who communicate well with their clients and agents, and who are efficient with the process. If you have someone ready when you put in your offer, you can speed the process up by instructing them once your offer is accepted. Your agent can then have the relevant documents with them quickly, and start the process for you all.
Finding A Property
There is no substitute for research when it comes to buying your first home. You might start out with just wanting a nice 2 bed house with a garden, but you'll soon find that knowing the area, and amenities surrounding it are just as important. So go for a drive round, ask questions, hit Google! Sometimes you'll find that different areas of a town are completely different, so you need to know if you could live there.
Write a list of what you need, so is parking important to you, do you have family or friends round a lot? If so is there parking for them too? If you have pets, is the area suitable for your cat to wander, or good places that are safe to walk your dog?
Do you need to be able to commute, and if so how far away and what times are the trains or buses?
Are you the type who likes to be able to pop to the local convienience shop on a Sunday night, if so living in a rural village with no mini supermarket on the corner is probably not for you!
Talk to Estate Agents.
That might sound obvious, but you need to know that the person helping you buy your home is looking at it the same way you are, and not just taking you to as many places as they can to get their viewing figures up for the month. Why waste your time looking at places that aren't right for you, when you could be missing out on your perfect place because you're at yet another viewing of somewhere with no parking unless you walk half a mile and cross your fingers theres a space when you have 3 cars and a small baby…?
Tell your agent your budget and your needs up front. The more information they have the better for you both.
Once you make an offer, you'll be asked for some paperwork by your estate agent and then by your solicitor, so have it all ready to go. You'll need to prove you have the funds and provide ID so have a driving licence or passport ready, along with a proof of address.
One of the worst parts once the sale is in progress is the time it takes. It'll feel like forever when you're waiting for a date. You'll hear about enquiries being sent and answered, and this is important as your conveyancer is making sure that there is nothing that comes up that would mean you have problems or surprises after the sale, or that you would find it difficult to sell in the future. They are doing it for your benefit, but it can take time, as they are waiting for legal documents and answers to questions raised by searches. It can take a few months from start to finish (not always, if everyone has all the right paperwork it can fly through) so be prepared, and try not to worry. It doesn't mean something is wrong, it just means they are being thorough for you. Once you get the exchange and completion dates it will feel like everything suddenly takes off!