Top Tips for First-Time Buyers in a Hot Market

Ellie Green
Authored by Ellie Green
Posted: Friday, June 21, 2024 - 00:20

The UK housing market's a funny beast, and don't let recent headlines about slowing growth fool you – it's still a competitive jungle out there, especially for first-time buyers.

This guide will equip you with the knowledge you need to snag a cracking first home without getting fleeced in the process.

Why Now Might Be a Good Time (Sort Of)

Recent news might have you thinking house prices are about to take a nosedive, but let's be realistic. A full-on crash is unlikely. That said, there might be a bit more wiggle room for negotiation, especially in some areas. So, it's not a terrible time to jump in, as long as you're armed with the right info.

Tip #1: Mortgage Mission – Get Pre-Approved & Boss Your Budget

First things first: mortgages. You need a Mortgage in Principle before you even think about getting gazumped at a viewing. This shows you're a serious buyer and tells lenders you've been pre-approved for a certain amount. Get this sorted with a free mortgage advisor – don't be a mug and pay for this! They'll help you navigate the different mortgage products (fixed-rate, tracker, offset, etc.) and find the one that fits your budget.

Speaking of budget, get brutal with your finances. Chuck everything you earn into a spreadsheet and figure out exactlyhow much you can afford each month. Remember, there's more to owning a house than the mortgage payment. Factor in stamp duty (especially if you're buying in England or Northern Ireland), solicitor fees, potential surveys, and anything else you'll expect to be paying for – every penny counts!

Tip #2: Deposit Dilemma – Every Little Helps

The magic number everyone throws around is a 20% deposit. While that gets you the best rates, it's not always achievable, especially for first-timers. Schemes like Help to Buy can slash your deposit to just 5%. Shared Ownership is another option, where you buy a share of a property and rent the rest. Great way to get your foot on the ladder, but there can be restrictions on selling and modifying the house down the line.

Tip #3: New Builds vs Resales – Find What's Right for You

New builds can be a fantastic option for first-time buyers. They're often energy-efficient, which means lower bills and a greener lifestyle. Plus, many come with warranties and potential tax breaks like Help to Buy. Not to mention, they tend to be built with modern life in mind, with good-sized, open-plan living areas perfect for entertaining. Resales are great too, and you might find a hidden gem in an established neighbourhood. Ultimately, the best choice depends on your priorities and lifestyle.

Tip #4: Location, Location, Location – It's More Than Just a Cliché

Of course, you deserve a house that looks like it belongs on an Instagram feed, but location is just as important (if not more so) than a swanky kitchen. Think about your commute, access to decent schools if you're planning a family, and local amenities like parks and shops. A bit further out might get you more house for your money, but a longer commute could eat into your savings and sanity.

Tip #5: Get the Right People On Your Side – Don't Go It Alone

Alright, don't be a hero. Buying a house is a BIG decision, so get some proper backup. A good mortgage advisor, as mentioned earlier, is essential. They'll fight your corner and get you the best deal. Solicitors are there to make sure the legal side of things runs smoothly – find one recommended by friends or family if possible, or check reviews for how prompt they are when responding to enquiries. Don't be afraid to haggle on fees with both – you're paying them, after all!


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