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A guide to buying a property for first time buyers

Published: 09/12/2021

Set out below are some key questions first-time buyers should be asking before taking the plunge.

How do you know how much to offer for your dream home?

  • Location, number of bedrooms, home office, outside space, and proximity to good schools dramatically affect a property's price.
  • An excellent place to start is the internet to see how much similar properties in the area have recently sold for when making an offer. This information is readily available from portals such as Zoopla and Mouseprice.
  • When you have found the property you wish to buy, we strongly recommend you assess the property's condition and decide whether you are happy to pay for any renovation work that may have to be done. Have a builder walk around the property with you and give you an idea of what is involved.
  • Do your homework and see whether the property you are interested in is in short or plentiful supply, as this will determine the competition and what you offer.

What are the key things to look out for when buying a property?

  • As well as taking into account the condition of the property, buyers should also check whether there are any future developments, road schemes, flight paths, etc., which will affect the enjoyment of the property.
  • Buyers should make sure that they can take out a mortgage. Houses built using non-standard construction methods, i.e., ex-local authority buildings constructed out of concrete may be difficult to borrow against.

Banks negatively view poor-quality extensions and conversions.

  • Those buying leasehold properties should ensure that there are more than 70 years left to run on the lease and check the ground rent agreements as some have charges which double every few years.
  • Also, check the service charges level, which can sometimes be high, especially in a new build apartment block.

What are the common traps for buyers?

Gazumping! When another buyer swoops in at the eleventh hour with a higher offer and purchases the property from under your feet. There isn't much a prospective buyer can do to prevent this from occurring, but being prepared to complete the transaction as quickly as possible is an advantage. Have proof of funds and a lawyer in place to speed up the process.

How do you get the best mortgage rate?

A higher interest rate can cost thousands of pounds a year in additional interest, so it is essential to pick the right mortgage. Talk to a mortgage broker who can recommend and compare the market to see your best options. They can also help with complicated circumstances, such as if you are self-employed.

With interest rates at an all-time low, there are some great deals to be bagged!

Can a first-time buyer get a mortgage?

FTB's have been the worst affected by the COVID recession. Most banks and building societies will no longer offer loans to potential customers with less than fifteen percent deposit leaving many people without loans. Only a few providers, including Virgin and Nationwide, will offer ten percent deposits at the moment.

What is happening to the help to buy scheme?

Thousands of people have used Help to Buy to get on the property ladder. This Government scheme allows buyers to purchase with a five percent deposit. However, the scheme will be restricted from April 2021 to FTB's buying properties with less than average house prices.

Is shared ownership a good deal?

Young people mostly use shared ownership as a way to own property. The buyer purchases a share in the property and pays rent on the remainder, owned by a housing association. This enables them to buy a property with a much smaller deposit than customarily required and sometimes less than £5,000.

There are drawbacks, as these schemes can be expensive and difficult to sell. Fees also apply if the owner wishes to purchase a more significant share further down the line, known as "staircasing". Not all banks are prepared to lend against these properties.

If you're a first-time buyer looking to purchase a property in central London, call us today to speak to one of our property experts on 020 3137 7877.
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