Buying your first home will easily be one of the most exciting and most stressful experiences in your adult life. But, with the current mortgage guarantee scheme, it’s a good time to take the plunge.

No longer having to pay rent, and instead, owning your own residential property is an exciting step. But being a first-time buyer comes with the stress of taking your first steps onto the property ladder.

First-time buyers don’t need to learn through trial and error though, and with the right research, the whole process can be made much simpler. This article will help first-time buyers handle their business like a seasoned pro.

1. Additional Costs

The sticker price is only the beginning, and for most people, the house budget dictates everything. Therefore, it’s important to have an experienced and knowledgeable independent mortgage advisor on your side from the beginning.

For first-time buyers, the quality service provided by skilled and seasoned professionals, such as those at PBS Mortgage Solutions, will make sure that you don’t sacrifice the factors that are most important to you and your family. It will also help you get the best interest rate and understand what your monthly repayments will look like.

A mortgage advisor will also let you know ways in which to save money such as through government schemes and shared ownership. Shared ownership is a buying scheme in which you pay part rent and part mortgage.

Another additional cost to remember is stamp duty, or stamp duty land tax, which is a government fee of 5% for homes over £300,000. So, if the purchase price of your home is under £300,000, then you don’t pay stamp duty. However, if the purchase price is over £300,000, then you pay 5% on the amount above £300,000, not the full purchase price.

The deposit can also be a large upfront cost. Currently, the mortgage guarantee scheme requires only a 5% deposit to secure a mortgage. Remember though, the more you pay in the deposit, the lower your monthly payments will be.

And there are other costs and fees, such as the valuation fee, the surveyor’s fee, the electronic transfer fees, mortgage fees involved in the mortgage application process, buildings transaction tax, removal costs, land registry fees, and basic legal fees as buying a house is a legal procedure.

This is why consulting a mortgage advisor is strongly advised, particularly for first-time buyers.

2. Neighbourhood

Once you’ve gone through your affordability assessment, and know what you can afford, the next biggest question is location.

Remember, you’re going to be making mortgage payments for the next 25-years. That means you not only need to consider what your daily life needs now but also in the future. Consider what that means, or better yet, think about how your life will and could change over the next 25-years.

Questions to consider include:

  • What is the traffic like, including on the weekends?
  • Is the area well-kept; are there visible elements of crime and disrepair or pride and ownership?
  • Are you single, married, have kids, or do you plan to?

Remember, the outside of the house will have a more direct and significant effect on your life than what the interior of the home does. So, think about your lifestyle, and not merely how many bathrooms and bedrooms there are.

3. Nearby Schools

One of the most critical elements involved in choosing the right location is the schools. This is especially difficult if you don’t even have any children yet.

One of the best things you can do is to visit the local schools yourself, find out how your kids would get to and from school, and ask any families in the area how they feel about the schools. You can also check up on the schools in your area using the government’s Ofsted website.

4. Commute to Work

Your commute to and from work is something you probably need to do at least 70% of the week. It’s a good idea to drive the route before your buy, and not only on bank holidays!

If you’ll be adding hours to your commute, then you need to identify what offset benefit there is for that.

5. Type of Property

While you may not be able to afford all the space you want, consider if it will be possible to add space to the house later, such as another bedroom, an additional bathroom, or even a garage. Or, as your life changes, can you convert use of the rooms for other purposes.

Also, have the homes in the general area been going up in value over the past several years, or not? Unless you can afford a new build home, you may need to consider changes to the property as time goes on.

6. What’s Nearby?

Your lifestyle currently and in the future is a critical element of location. Not only schools but community programs, family doctors, family dentists, grocery stores, parks, restaurants, fuel stations, fitness centres and gyms, pharmacies, dry cleaners, and more.

Also, consider potential negatives, such as proximity to train tracks, the airport / under a flight path, near or on a flood plain, etc.

7. Don’t Overlook Any Flaws

It’s very easy for first-time buyers to overlook some big problems because they are blinded by all the great ideas they see in the property. Remember, in most cases, even eager first-time buyers looking to get on the property ladder need to be buying a home, not a project.

Ask questions, no matter how insignificant you think they may be:

  • How long has the property been for sale?
  • When can you move in, when are the owners moving out?
  • What work has been done to the house; how old is the roof, boiler, windows, plumbing, wiring, etc.?
  • What is included and not included in the sale?
  • Can you see the energy performance certificate?

First-time buyers typically learn the hard way how to do things the right way. However, with the correct know-how, you won’t need to.