Buying your first home is one of the BEST milestones you’ll have in your life. Without a doubt.
Don’t get me wrong, it can be stressful at times because, unfortunately, a lot of things along the way are out of your control and it’s almost like waiting you’re for everything to fall into place. However, the end result makes all the stressing completely worth it.
That moment when you’ve finally moved in and you’re sat in your living room with a glass of wine is honestly unbeatable. For me it was anyway! It just felt so good to finally be in.
If you’re thinking about buying your first home in the near future and need some advice about the journey of becoming a home-owner, you’re in the right place. I read loads of tips and advice online, and there are plenty of other blog posts and websites out there to help you if you need it, but here’s what my process went like from start to finish and the advice I’d give.
Have a realistic time frame in mind
To start with, it’s sensible to be aware that the house-buying process isn’t as fast as you might sometimes want to be. You may be thinking “I want to move out NOW” but it doesn’t work like that unfortunately. Not for actually buying a house anyway.
So let’s be realistic about this. Even if you’ve saved your deposit and are ready to get the ball rolling you could still expect to be waiting up to 6 months. If you haven’t saved anything o not quite enough, you’re obviously going to be waiting a lot longer, so you’ll have to bear your entire situation in mind.
Set a budget
What sort of property do you want to buy? What sort of price are you going to be looking at in order to buy your first home? This is essential to know from the start, so you can set yourself a target for saving up a deposit. Usually you’ll need 5-10% of your desired house price. Although, for me and Adam we had to put down 15% because of the effects of the pandemic.
I’d strongly advise opening a savings account so that money is all in one place. Come up with a timely budgeting/money saving plan to ensure you reach your financial goal in the time you wish.
From personal experience, if you want something enough, you can mostly definitely achieve it. Discipline in this instance is key. And hopefully, your financial plan should meet nicely with your time frame for moving out if you stick to it!
Apply for a mortgage and see how much you can borrow
Before you get your heart set on anything, it’s really important to meet with a mortgage broker or bank to see how much you can actually borrow for your mortgage.
They’ll assess this by looking at your occupation and income, credit history, and even sometimes your health background and family’s history of health. Usually these appointments are quite in-depth because at the end of the day, no bank or broker wants to loan thousands and thousands of pounds if you don’t qualify.
Before you do this, it might be worth performing a credit check on yourself to see how you score. You can get a free credit check with Experian, which is really useful.
Start booking some house viewings
Once you’ve saved, or even while you’re still saving, you can be looking at houses online and then booking viewings through the estate agents. It’s good to get a feel for what sort of property you want at any stage of the process. Even if you’re not yet in a position to buy it can be good practice for asking the right questions, spotting things sellers don’t always tell you from the off, and generally for seeing what’s on the market.
If you are in a position to buy at this stage, it’s all very exciting because if something feels right then the next move is all down to you. Get that offer in!
Find your dream home
See as many houses as you like, whether that’s one or one hundred! In our case, we only viewed three houses before we just knew. Ask all the right questions when you’re viewing houses because you’ll want to know everything there is to know about the property. After all, if you’re going to be putting down that much money on something, you want to know exactly what you’re getting. Here’s a good list of questions to ask. But think about what’s most important for you to know, for example what the neighbours are like, what council tax bracket the house falls under, or how much the monthly bills come to.
Make the right offer (and hope that it get accepted!)
So, you’ve found the house of your dreams? Now it’s time to make an offer on it.
My advice would be to go in with a cheeky offer initially but not something unrealistic and way off the asking price. Obviously if you can negotiate a price that suits you it’s the best outcome but don’t take the seller for a ride because you’ll only end up losing out.
To communicate making offers with the seller you’ll need to go through the estate agent you booked the house viewing with, so you don’t need to worry about speaking to them personally to negotiate.
Choose a good solicitor
For the sake of this blog post, the scenario is that your offer has now been accepted. Congratulations!
Now you need to find yourself a good solicitor to sort out all of the legalities and processes associated with buying a house.
I could go into each stage of the solicitor process but it would make this post both even longer and very boring. Instead, take a look at this article which goes somewhat in-depth about it. You really only need to know this sort of stuff if you’ve got that far. If you haven’t even got a deposit together yet, I really wouldn’t worry.
What I would recommend for this stage is asking family or friends which solicitor firm they’ve used before. I guarantee you’ll know somebody who has bought a house at some point in their life, so ask them who they used?
Some solicotors are good and some are awful. Take recommendations, do some research, and find one that will strive to make your journey as seamless as possible and not unnecessarily difficult.
Organise a house survey if you need it
Depending on the property you’re buying, you’ll most likely need to arrange a house survey, unless it’s a new-build.
This is an extremely important part of the house-buying process because the purpose of it is to fully inspect the condition of a property and outline any problems you and your solicitor will need to know about.
Sort out home/buildings insurance
Like your car, phone or laptop; your house also needs to be insured.
Price comparison websites like Compare The Market and GoCompare are the best way to get yourself a good deal on insurance. Just make sure you go through every stage of the application with a fine-toothed comb because we all know what insurance companies are like!
Negotiate a completion date and hand over the money
You’re almost there!
At this stage, you’ll be in regular contact with your solicitor exchanging contracts, handing over your deposit money, and negotiating a completion date. This is the exciting, but also sometimes stressful, part.
If all goes to plan and both parties are ready to go… then great! However, things can stall the process and throw a spanner in the works sometimes. So don’t be too disappointed if things get slowed down for one reason or another.
Once you’re in though, it makes everything worth it.
My main piece of advice throughout the entire home-buying process would be… Don’t get excited until you’ve got the keys and you’re physically standing inside your house!