A simples guide

Buying your first home explained

Your first step onto the property ladder can be daunting. As exciting as the prospect of becoming a homeowner is, there are a lot of things to consider. We’ve created this guide to help first-time buyers get onto the property ladder and stay on it. Simples!


What are the hidden costs involved with buying your first home?

It’s no mystery that purchasing a home is an expensive affair, but the hidden costs can be a shock and can add anywhere up to 10% on to the purchase price. We’ve listed some of the additional costs here:

- Surveys and valuations cost money

- Mortgage arrangement fees can be 1% and you can have indemnity fees

- If you get your mortgage through a broker, you pay them up to another 1%

- Your new property may need work, or a spruce up. Either way, it’ll cost money

- Furniture and appliances vary in quality and price. As a first time buyer, you’re likely to either have little or no furniture

- Unless you own a van or know somebody who does, you’ll probably need to hire professional movers.

The list above is certainly not exhaustive. Some first time home buyers will face all of the costs listed above; others will only face one or two. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. Keep hidden fees in mind throughout the whole buying process and have a contingency fund.

sold sign
estate agent with keys

What legal fees are applied when buying your first home?

As if the hidden fees weren’t enough, there will be various legal fees. While some of the legal costs are common knowledge, some are a little less obvious. Buying a home is an enormous investment, and legal costs play no small part in that.

Conveyancing is a service that solicitors offer to home buyers, whereby they handle the legal aspects involved in purchasing a house. Their duties will involve everything from creating contracts, Land Registry, and organising the payment of stamp duty.

While the costs that you will incur from your solicitor will vary depending on the agency that you use, the amount of work that your solicitor undertakes, won’t be cheap. Some solicitors will charge by the hour, while others will charge a fixed fee. Either way, get a quote before they start!

“What is stamp duty?” Stamp duty is a tax on transactions that involve property or land. If your first home costs over £125,000 then you will have to pay it. The amount of stamp duty you must pay increases with the value of your purchase.

What should you avoid when buying your first home?

Purchasing a house is a big deal, especially when you’re a first-time buyer. In fact, first-time homes in the UK cost upwards of £170,000 and that’s estimated to increase to £245,000 by 2020. It’s important to remain level-headed throughout the process. Failure to make rational decisions when you weigh up your options can be disastrous. Fortunately, we know some of the pitfalls awaiting the first time buyer and we’re going to share them with you now.  

When viewing your potential first home, it’s easy to look at it through “rose-tinted glasses.” You may fail to spot things that can cause serious issues further down the line. If you have a family member or friend who is in the building trade, it may be a good idea to take them along and view the property. They may see issues that you miss, which can save you a lot of financial trouble. You can even use these problems as bargaining tools to drive the price down.

Some things to look out for include:

- Damp and mould

- Structural issues

- Faulty wiring and leaking pipes

- Chipped and cracked plaster

- Anything that will be expensive to repair

While it’s best practice to ensure that the home you’re buying is safe and will not drive you to ruin with expensive repairs, you also need to be realistic. You may need to settle for certain things. Poorly laid carpet or ugly floral wallpaper may not be your first choice, but they are certainly things you can fix once you’ve settled into your mortgage payments. As long as your basic needs are met and the house is safe, don’t write it off.

Can you buy your first home if you have bad credit?

Poor credit doesn’t necessarily put an end to your dreams of getting onto the property ladder. There are, however, certain difficulties that you’ll have to navigate. Mortgages for people with less than stellar credit will typically require a large deposit. Charges and interest rates will also be higher.

Bad credit mortgages, also known as sub-prime mortgages, do have one advantage. After continuously paying on time, you will see your credit rating improve. As long as the rest of your finances are in order, you’ll probably be in a position to switch mortgages eventually.

house and documents

What do you need when buying your first home?

Mortgage lenders are lending their customers large quantities of money, over long periods of time. Because of the risk involved in that, they do have to perform a lot of due diligence. They’ll want to see your entire credit history. Before you even contact possible mortgage lenders, you could contact credit reporting agencies to ensure that your credit score accurately represents your credit history.

Providing that everything on your history is as you’d expect it to be, you’ll need to collect some documentation that your mortgage provider will ask for. Again, there’s quite a lot, so it’s best to start doing this long before you pick up the phone. You’ll need:

  • Payslips from at least the last three months
  • Your P60 form
  • Three to six months of statements from your current accounts
  • Statements from your savings accounts
  • Information regarding any benefits received
  • Two to three years’ worth of accounts, if you are self-employed
  • Your self-assessment tax return, if you have more than two jobs or are self-employed
  • Recent utility bills
  • Proof of identity

Once you have all of this supporting documentation, it’s time to get in touch with a mortgage provider! By following our first-time buyer’s guide, you’ll be in good stead to get the property that is right for you, from a provider that is charging you a fair rate.

How can you get the best deal on your first-time buyer mortgage?

You have a lot to think about when it comes to buying your first house, as we’ve shown above, but you can reduce the fuss of finding a mortgage provider by visiting our website and comparing a huge panel of mortgages from some of the most popular providers in the UK.

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