You’ve been putting what you can in savings for what feels like forever but suddenly it becomes a reality and owning your first home is just around the corner, but what can you do to make the final steps of the journey as easy as possible?
I’ve compiled a short list of things you can do when you’re starting your property search to help you make that dream a reality in no time at all.
Make sure you’re financially good to go.
When you start approaching estate agents to arrange a viewing, a question’s that is commonly asked is: Have you got an agreement in principle from your mortgage provider. An agreement in principle is a document supplied by your mortgage provider that confirms what you’re able to borrow and these can be obtained, subject to satisfactory credit ratings, by visiting your bank or mortgage broker. It is usually free to obtain an agreement in principle but be aware there will be costs involved when it comes to applying for your preferred rate. When looking for the correct person to source your mortgage for you, bear in mind that the best possible deal may not be via your bank and may be through an independent financial advisor, so it’s worth doing your due diligence here to save those crucial £’s. This process usually starts with a quick phone call followed by a meeting where you’ll have to bring along a few documents to confirm your identity and proof of earnings. Once you’ve seen your mortgage broker, you’ll have a firm understanding of your spending ability and you can start entering your desired criteria into one of the online portals, which is the exiting bit!
It will be useful to put aside further funds for the associated costs of buying a house, so you don’t come un-done when you’ve found the right place. These will usually include the cost of applying for a mortgage, removal costs, legal fees and survey costs (Read our blog on types of surveys here: https://nexabristol.com/2019/06/20/what-sort-of-survey-should-i-have)
Register with the estate agents in your area
. Believe it or not, estate agents are here to help, and the very best agents will thrive on selling a house before it even goes online by having extensive knowledge of their registered buyers. By providing your requirements to the local agents you’re putting yourself in the best possible position to get your dream home and I’d even recommend keeping in regular contact with the agents, so that you’re at the top of the list when the right place comes up! Your agents may send you properties which aren’t 100% to your criteria but don’t be afraid to send said agent some feedback as to why it wasn’t suitable, as this will usually avoid it happening again in the future.
Set yourself up on the portals for instant alerts.
You: Please can I arrange a viewing on this property?
Me: No, sorry, this place has already been sold.
You: WHAT?!…it was only listed today?!
Now this doesn’t happen all the time, but if you’re looking to buy property in a busy marketplace, take Bristol city centre for example, then you will quickly realise that this is a regularity. Alongside the good agents knowing their registered buyers, anyone can find out when a new property is listed simply by using technology available to all: Instant alerts. Go to one of the online property portals like Rightmove, Zoopla or OnTheMarket and set up an account. Once you’ve completed this you can enter the relevant criteria for your perfect place and when one is listed online you’ll receive a text or email to let you know straight away and can call up the agent selling the property to arrange your viewing.
Make a pros and cons list and arrange second viewings – be prepared to compromise a little.
I’m not saying you must be prepared to leave your current city for pastures grey and cheap by any means, but you’ll quickly come to terms with the fact that your absolute dream home may not yet be a reality. When you’re viewing your prospective homes use your phone or go old school with a pad of paper and make notes of the features you really liked and the things which put you off, so when you’ve exhausted the properties available to view in your desired area you can go through your pros and cons list to work out which properties are worth seeing for a second time and where you may have to compromise. Consider that the properties may have been priced with refurbishment work in mind, so don’t be afraid of offering under the asking price initially if you feel you’d need to spend money on the house to make it liveable.
Check if there’s a leasehold.
Typically you’ll encounter a leasehold when trying to buy an apartment where the whole building is owned by a freeholder however, there are more an more examples of houses being sold as leasehold, so it’s vital that you check the situation before making any offer. Why should you check about the leasehold? You only own a leasehold property for a fixed period of time. You’ll have a legal agreement with the landlord (sometimes known as the ‘freeholder’) called a ‘lease’. This tells you how many years you’ll own the property and the ownership of the property will return to the freeholder at the end of this period. Something else that may pop up during your search is ‘Shared Ownership Scheme’s’ and these can be a great way of getting yourself onto the ladder but, as the title suggests, you share the ownership of the house with someone else and would pay part mortgage part rent until your rent is fully paid up and the home is yours. Find out more here: https://www.gov.uk/affordable-home-ownership-schemes/shared-ownership-scheme
Try to be as flexible as possible when arranging viewings.
In a similar fashion to point 3, you’ll stand the best chance of getting the place you want if you’re prepared to view properties when they’re first available to be shown. This isn’t always easy, as most people need to work during the day and have responsibilities in the evening that are hard to get out of, but if you’re seriously on the hunt for your first property and don’t want to miss out when the perfect place becomes available, having an awkward chat with your manager about taking an early lunch break/leaving a little early at the end of the day can make all the difference. Unsurprisingly, the first-time buyer market is one of the most fiercely contested markets within buying property, so if you see a property that comes to market which you think is perfect, chances are so do 10 – 20 other people. Don’t sleep on it.
So, to summarise; get a proper understanding of your financial ability, make sure the people offering the houses in your area know who you are and what you’re looking for, do your due diligence and be flexible where you can to give you the best possible chance of getting on the ladder.
Once you’ve found a suitable place and had your offer accepted you’ll progress into the conveyancing process, which can be just as frustrating as trying to find somewhere, so familiarise yourself with the process by reading our conveyancing blog here: https://nexabristol.com/2019/07/12/the-conveyancing-process-explained
Want to know what’s going on locally to Bristol? Have a read through our latest property market report here: https://nexabristol.com/2020/01/25/residential-market-report-january-2020