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Filled with anticipation and probably some nerves too, every first time home buyer will have a long list of questions that they are desperate for answers to. It’s only natural as the excitement builds towards owning your first home. But are you sure that the questions you are asking are the right ones? In this article we explore 10 key questions that every first time home buyer should ask.
From searching for and finding a property you love, to securing a mortgage that is right for you and your circumstances, there’s so much to learn when buying your first home. It’s easy to get ahead of yourself in excitement, and overlook some of the key pieces of information that you really ought to know.
As specialist first time buyer mortgage advisors, the team here at Your Mortgage Options know exactly the right questions to ask (and the answers to give!). We take pride in helping people make that first step onto the property ladder, and ensuring that each decision they make during this journey is right for them. Check out the list below to learn what you need to be mindful of, and if you’d like independent mortgage advice unique to your circumstances, click here.
Whether it’s searching online on Rightmove, or browsing the window of your local estate agents, looking for properties is compulsive. You can quickly get carried away in the dream of owning your own home so the first question to ask yourself is: Can I really afford this?
The reality is that there isn’t just the deposit and mortgage repayments to think about. There are additional costs involved in moving such as:
To add to this, you’ll need to factor in bills, and what might happen if your circumstances were to change. Could you end up struggling to make your monthly mortgage repayments if any unexpected costs were to arise?
Failing to keep up with your repayments carries severe consequences – In the worst-case scenario you could face repossession and be evicted from your home. For this reason it is critical to sit down and reassess your finances, ideally with a mortgage advisor, before you jump in to making any big decisions.
You might already have a good idea of where you want your first home to be, but it’s important to thoroughly research the local area. Unlike renting, buying a home is a huge investment, even if you’re a first time buyer and your mind is only on the here and now.
First and foremost it needs to be somewhere that you’ll enjoy living for the foreseeable future. But at some point you’ll inevitably want to move on, so is it somewhere that has good resale value? It might sound obvious, but our best advice is to buy in the best area that you can afford.
Features such as a driveway will also increase your chances of being able to sell the property, especially in locations where parking is limited. Even if you don’t currently drive and don’t plan on doing so, it’s something worth considering.
Once you reach the stage of finding a property you like and making an offer, make sure you know exactly what you will be getting for your money. When committing to such a big financial decision, it’s easy to overlook some of the smaller things that may or may not be included.
Items such as white goods and garden sheds for example could save you a significant amount of money if they are included in the sale. If it’s a new build, ask the developers for a list of what will be included.
Make sure you know ahead of moving day what items will still be there when you move in. Anything permanently attached such as faucets, cabinets, and window blinds are considered a fixture, and are generally included in a home sale. But some items can fall into a grey area.
Without coming across as too nosey, it’s perfectly legitimate to ask why the current owner is wanting to sell. It may be that they are upsizing, downsizing, or moving away due to work or family commitments. Or, perhaps it is a reason that may impact you as the future owner of the property.
Knowing the answer to this question might give you some bargaining power. For example, if you know they need to sell quickly, they might be tempted to accept a lower offer to get the deal done. Alternatively if they are in no hurry, there might be little room for negotiation. Either way, it is useful to have this information.
If the owners have only moved in recently themselves and are already selling on, it is important to find out why. Do they have noisy neighbours? Or have they found that the place is falling apart? The answer might be none of these, but you should definitely investigate. Alarm bells should ring if the property has frequently changed hands in a short space of time.
On the other hand, if a single owner has lived in the home for decades and grown old there, have critical maintenance tasks been carried out?
Usually if a house has been on the market for a long time, it means it has been priced too high. In this case, it becomes harder to sell and the owner might be willing to accept an offer below the asking price.
Or if a property is new on the market and is already gathering lots of interest, you’ll need to be prepared to act quickly before it gets snapped up. This may leave you with less room for negotiations.
Ultimately this determines whether you will own the property and land yourself or whether someone else does. Generally speaking, houses are freehold and flats are leasehold. But be aware that this is not always the case.
With a leasehold flat, the freeholder usually remains in control of communal areas and building maintenance. In this case you’ll need to know who manages the building and who to contact if a problem occurs.
Find out as much information about the freeholder as you can, including seeking previous tenant reviews.
A house survey is an expert inspection of a property, which reveals any problems to a prospective buyer. It’s a key piece of information to have before making such a huge financial commitment. If any serious issues are found, you might want to reconsider or negotiate a reduction in the asking price to cover the cost of the repairs.
There are different types of surveys to choose from, depending on the type of property, how detailed you want it, and how much you are willing to pay.
This is nice to know anyway, but it is important because the upkeep of older houses is typically more expensive.
Has planning permission been submitted for nearby land or properties?
If you’ve set your heart on a property because of the beautiful scenery that it looks onto, you’ll want reassurance that this isn’t going to be built on. In addition, if there is a large construction project about to take place nearby, this will be noisy and potentially cause other disruptions in the local area too.
For an extra cost, your conveyancing solicitor can conduct a planning search which will flag up any planned development projects that might impact your enjoyment while living in your new property.
Speaking to a first time buyer mortgage advisor at Your Mortgage Options can provide you with reassurance when it comes to asking the right questions, and getting the right answers. We don’t just offer whole of market independent mortgage advice, we guide you through the home buying journey from start to finish.
To enquire online for mortgage advice as a first time buyer, click here.