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Buying your first property

Being a first time buyer can be very stressful. After all, buying a property could be one of the most important financial decisions of your life. If you are inexperienced you might be worried about getting everything right: asking the right questions, getting the best deal, and not being ripped off!

Plentific is ready to help you find specialists to help you with the purchase of your first property. The Plentific website hosts information on over 75,000 specialists and tradesmen from across the UK, and can quickly generate a bespoke contact list of options in your local area. You can compare your options quickly as each will have a Plentific profile listing their qualifications, experience and customer reviews. The Plentific Guarantee, which can cover your entire project, will also be available if you choose a 'verified' tradesman.

Paying for your property

When buying a property you will need to be able to put down a deposit. Usually this will be between 5-20% of the property’s cost. If you have more than 5% already saved it will put you in a much more favourable position when applying for a mortgage.

The majority of people that purchase a home, whether or not it is their first, have to apply for a mortgage to help pay for it. The first thing to do is to get a ‘mortgage/ agreement in principle’ from your current bank. This should be free of charge, and will show you how much the bank is willing to lend to you. This will give a lot more credence to any offers you make. If you get a offer accepted, then you can go on to find your ideal mortgage.

There are dozens of mortgages out there, and as a first time buyer navigating between them can be difficult. A mortgage broker can help things along by finding suitable mortgages for you based on your circumstances. They will be familiar with local banks and available mortgages, and will be able to advise you based on what you can afford to pay back. They usually charge a percentage of the mortgage amount, but this may come from the bank rather than you.

When making your application you will need to submit proof of your income. You will also need proof of outgoings, debts, bills and other living costs. The bank may ask you to provide pay slips or bank statements for their consideration, or you may need a guarantor for the bank to accept your loan.

Remember that when comparing mortgages there is more to consider than required monthly repayments. Ask about stamp duties, conveyancer charges and any other hidden fees before you sign anything.

The cost of buying a property is always more than the asking price. You will also need to consider any survey costs, initial furnishing and decorating costs and buying insurance. For this reason it is important to look over your potential properties as carefully as possible. Mention any flaws to the current owner: you may be able to negotiate a lower price or have them repair the faults as part of the sale.

Certain people can qualify for government help in buying a home. Schemes like Help to Buy and Right to Buy are designed to provide economic assistance to potential homeowners. To find out if there are any schemes that you can qualify for, it is best to speak to your local council.

Finding your property

Looking for a home is a lot simpler than it used to be. The best method of finding potential properties is to use an estate agent. Look at the type of properties that they sell and the areas they cover. An estate agent with a good local knowledge may even be able let you know about properties that aren’t even on the market yet. Read customer reviews too, and check how successful the company has been with buying and selling homes in the area.

When considering estate agents, take the time to visit their offices and ask about how they work. One thing in particular you should ask about is how often they keep in contact with their clients. You will be putting a lot of trust in them, after all. As a buyer you should not usually be charged anything for using an estate agent to find your home.  

There are other estate agents available online, though usually using these will require more effort on your part. That being said, you can usually find more choice online, and so if you are willing to do more work to scrutinise the properties you find, as well as arrange viewings and negotiate with sellers yourself, then it is definitely worth looking online as well.

Viewing a property

When viewing a property, look around carefully. Even if you feel you are too inexperienced to find faults, you can still look out for cracks in the walls or similar surface level damage. Feel free to speak to the owner about anything you are unsure of. If they are hesitant to answer, there’s probably a good reason why.

It can be difficult to find absolute everything wrong with a house during a viewing, but you can play it safe by asking the right kind of questions:

  • When did the property last get an energy performance certificate? What about a gas safety check? Has the owner ever done a radon check?

  • How long has property been on the market? If it has been available for a long time, why? The owner may be willing to negotiate a lower price, especially if they are in a rush to sell

  • What is included in the sale in terms of furniture?

  • How old is the property?

  • Why is the owner selling?

  • How long have the current owners lived there?

  • Has the property repeatedly changed hands? If the answer is yes, it indicates a problem

  • How much do council tax and utility bills cost?

  • What is the minimum that the seller will accept?

  • What offers have been made so far? How many?

  • When is the seller moving out? You do not want to put an offer down then have to wait for the owner to find a new place

  • How is the neighbourhood? Has the current owner ever had any problems with the neighbours?

  • What is the state of the current boiler?

  • Have there been any recent additions or home improvements?

Making an offer

If you decide that you want to make an offer on a property, speak with your estate agent and ask them to justify the price. Be scrupulous and mention anything you are uncertain of, as well as any faults you have found. If it is serious enough, your estate agent may be able to negotiate a better deal for you. Finally, if everything is good to go, the estate agent will make the offer on your behalf. They will ask the seller to take the property off the market, which they may or may not do. If not, move quickly to confirm your mortgage! Once everything is confirmed, a conveyancer will transfer ownership to you. One will usually be supplied by your estate agent.

When making an offer on a property it is important to know exactly what you are buying. With a house, the leasehold for the land will usually be included, while with flats you will usually be buying a leasehold or a share of the building’s freehold.

Looking for an Estate Agent? Post your job with Plentific and start receiving quotes today!