Buying a property for the first time is an experience which comes with a mixed bag of emotions. It can be very exciting as well as truly daunting – and it often takes a lot longer than people think.
Many things have to fall into place in order to successfully complete a property purchase and if you are a first time buyer, you may not be familiar with all of them. After reading this guide, you will hopefully learn some of the key things that need to be considered during the process – making it less daunting.
Finding the right property means not only creating your dream house checklist, but also managing your expectations and ensuring that your budget doesn’t just cover the deposit for the property but also the estate agent fees, service fees, survey fees, and more. While stamp duty isn’t something you have to worry about for your first time purchase, it’s worth also understanding what that would look like for a future purchase, so that you manage your expectations associated with costs and fees for future purchases.
In this guide, we’re covering the ins and outs of buying a property for the first time, from determining your key criteria and must-haves to navigating the surveys, legal work, and ultimate completion requirements.
Is now a good time to buy?
This is a question with no definite answer, not least because the answer is always changing according to market demand, inflation, current house prices, and the present relationship between the rental market and the buyer market.
It’s important to consider all of these key factors as well as your own individual circumstances, to see if the time is right for you to get on the property ladder.
What should you look for when searching for your first home?
If you do decide that now is the time to buy and enter the property market for the first time, a few pieces of admin to cover before we get into your checklist as a first time buyer.
First, as we mentioned earlier, first time buyers are exempt from stamp duty (up to a certain amount). This essentially means that if you buy a property which falls under the threshold, you are 100% exempt from stamp duty – a residential land tax amount which is charged to buyers when purchasing a property.
Another thing to note as a first time buyer is the need for surveys and solicitors to manage the legal side of the purchase and to ensure that you will be accepted for your mortgage. This all comes before payment of the deposit, and so is an important step that you need to recognise – and budget for – when planning your purchase.
Now, with that out of the way, what else should you look for in terms of the house itself?
Are you buying a home or an investment?
Most first time buyers plan to purchase a property that they will live in; however, there are instances and occasions where you might purchase an investment property, for example if you have a job where you live onsite.
A buy-to-let mortgage is what you will need when buying an investment property, with the deposit typically higher for a purchase of this nature. You will also need to decide whether to manage the property as a holiday rental or as a long term rental opportunity for a tenant, selecting a management team or taking on the role of active landlord yourself.
Location, location, location
The first property you buy doesn’t have to be your forever home, but it should be somewhere that bridges your lifestyle and local requirements with an eye to the future. When browsing properties to buy, whether on our website or elsewhere in your local area, you need to consider the most coveted locations and which properties and locations will be the easiest to list and sell once you are ready to move.
The location of the property will have a significant impact on the price. The most expensive properties tend to be those close to the centre of big cities, as well as those larger properties in the middle of nowhere – with both high price tags inspired by completely different things. Properties in the countryside tend to be coveted by those escaping city living, while the convenience of a city centre property pushes the price of these properties skywards.
When looking for the first location, consider what works for you and what will be easy to resell.
Identify your non-negotiables
Your dream house checklist will likely be made up of a whole host of different details and features. However, your non-negotiables list needs to be far more selective and should detail the aspects of a property that you are not prepared to skimp on.
Some common non-negotiables include outside space, access points, off-street parking, proximity to schools or workplaces, and a minimum number of bedrooms and/or bathrooms.
Once you have identified these and created a priority list, make sure that you communicate these with your agent or use the relevant filter options when viewing properties online to ensure that they meet your requirements.
Book viewings – and don’t be disheartened if they don’t work out
You will find, as a first time buyer, that the more properties you go and view, the better you will get at spotting both red flags and green flags on different listings.
As part of your viewing process, make sure that you also swing by potential properties at different times of day – for example in the evening, first thing in the morning, and during various parts of the day. This can help you to see how busy the area gets at different times, and how things like rush hour and school drop affect the location.
It’s also important to remember that photographs online are designed and taken to paint the property in its best possible light – and that means that some of the properties that you view might look different in person. Visit each property and focus on its potential, the things you can change, and the way you would use and lay the property out according to your own lifestyle.
Use a trusted agent
Choosing to partner with a trusted estate agency like Pat Robson & Co. can help you access properties which are new to the market as well as those which you might have missed through your own research.
Managing the property search on your behalf and arranging viewings, not to mention managing the offer process and negotiations when you’re ready to put in an offer, a professional estate agency can help to put you in the best possible position to make a successful property purchase.
But even if you choose not to work directly with an estate agent, they are still the ones who will hear your offer and relay it to the seller, meaning that a positive relationship with local agents can be key to your success as a buyer.
The first time buyer timeline
So, what happens once you’ve identified your perfect property or your dream home?
Once you’ve identified the property, you first need to make an offer. This offer should be based on how much you are willing to pay for the property, with some negotiation often required especially if a property has garnered a lot of interest.
If your offer is accepted, you need to get your mortgage in principle approved by your lender. The mortgage in principle is something that proves the bank is willing to lend the amount required to purchase the property, with the final step being a written and contractual mortgage which the lender creates and provides as a guarantee.
A solicitor will need to be brought in to manage the legal side and the contracts on your behalf, with buyers advised to contact a solicitor or conveyancer either at the recommendation of their mortgage lender or as per their own connections. This individual is responsible for handling the legal side of the purchase and will also conduct searches to ensure the property is in the condition stated – known as a conveyancer survey.
Additional surveys may be required if you want to determine the exact condition of the property and which areas might need to work, prior to payment of the deposit. Once this has been done, it’s completion time – the exchange of final contracts, any final negotiations, and ultimately the handover of the house key.
Navigating the complex timeline of buying a property as a first time buyer
As a first time buyer, this whole process might seem daunting – with several potential stumbling blocks along the way. However, under the help and guidance of an experienced solicitor and with the support of an effective estate agency to identify your perfect property and put you in good stead to make an offer that will be accepted, getting on the property ladder could be easier than you think.
Here at Pat Robson & Co., we work with a broad pool of buyers and sellers, ensuring that we always have access to and a direct line with the most coveted properties in sought after, popular areas and locations. As a first time buyer, we can help you to identify your must-haves and non-negotiables and make the process not only seamless from a buyer perspective but also enjoyable.
Visit our website to browse the current properties in our portfolio for sale in Newcastle and popular nearby suburbs such as Gosforth, Jesmond and Heaton.