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Six lessons from a first time buyer

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People always talk about how stressful buying a property is, particularly so if you’re going it alone as I am. Like many first time buyers the rose tinted spectacles were firmly attached to my nose before that first viewing …

Lesson 1: remove them!

Although on paper the photos of that one-bedroom apartment look lovely; it’s got a modern kitchen and a sky-light. Happy days! But you need to question it – “why is it that cheap?” Well, to answer that question you really have to go and view it - which is when you’ll come back down to earth with a THUD.

The particular apartment in question itself was lovely.  However the building (which had a £1k service charge) left much to be desired: stained carpets, litter everywhere, the smell of cigarette smoke clung to the walls and the car park was far from secure.

Take these things with a pinch of salt.  Remember that estate agents’ primary function is to sell - and don’t be naïve!

Lesson 2: know your budget inside out

Before you even start looking at properties, get that budget ironed out. I used an online mortgage calculator, which literally took all of three minutes to fill out before giving me a figure to work with.

There’s no point in punching above your weight when it comes to property - you’ll just end up in debt, disappointed and with plastic patio chairs for a sofa.

Lesson 3: listen to your elders

Although I hate to admit this one, my dad was right about pretty much every aspect of the process and the properties that I looked at.  Find someone who knows what they’re talking about and try not to be stubborn.

Lesson 4: get your finances in order and do your homework

So you’ve found your new happy place: nice location, decent parking and down the road from your local – good times.

The second you put an offer in you’re going to be hit with a million questions from your estate agent/mortgage lender that might catch you off guard.  Just breathe - it’s not as daunting as it sounds.

You’ll need …

  • the AIP (agreement in principal) from your mortgage lender which you can usually do online;
  • copies of your bank statements/details of where you’re getting your deposit money from;
  • three recent wage slips and sometimes a P60 can be helpful.  If you don’t have them to hand ask your HR rep to sort them for you;
  • Details of the property you’re purchasing - I was even asked how old the property was and had no idea - just be prepared for some in-depth questions;
  • employment details from the last three years, including the dates you were there – I had to look on my LinkedIn during the mortgage appointment for this one!

Lesson 5: remember that until those documents are sorted the property is not yours! My colleague, Jonathan Williams, recently wrote an article on something called ‘gazumping’ which is certainly worth a read.

Lesson 6: instruct a good conveyancer.  You don’t have to go with the one your estate agent suggests – the better the conveyancer the quicker you’re going to be all moved in and picking out sofas. 

Once you've got your head round that, take a look at our conveyancing page to see how the team could help get you moving.