Getting married, having children, and buying a house. These are the most stressful things to do in life... apparently. But here's some tips that I hope will make it easier for you (and me as I look to buy my first home too).
While everything on the list should be helpful, it might not necessarily relate to your circumstances, so use what does relate to you and leave what doesn't.
Should You Be Buying?
Many couples and small families feel a bit of pressure to buy a house, by other friends and family who have already done so. But, that doesn't mean it is always the right decision. House prices fall and rise so often it can feel like there isn’t a right time to buy… and you could be right. The right time to buy a house is when you are ready to make the commitment to one property for the long haul.
If you have looked at the pros and cons in detail, then you’re ready for the next step.
Here is where your savings are going to make a huge impact. When looking at getting a mortgage loan, try to make sure you factor in what type of mortgage you’re going to need or want. This will vary depending on where you live. So make sure that you pay attention to the differences between fixed rate and variable mortgage rates, this will make an impact on how much you'll repay per month. Also, before applying, make sure that your credit is in good standing.
If you want extra information about what you might be looking at regarding monthly payments, check out a mortgage calculator.
First Time Buyer Perks?
While you can feel a little out of your depth, being a first-time buyer can come with a lot of benefits. You are able to take up offers on preferential rates, and often special schemes (some goverment backed) that specifically benefit first time buyers. These are worth spending some time thoroughly researching.
Add it Up
When buying a house, many people tend to overlook a few integral costs. Valuation fee, legal fees, stamp duty, mortgage arrangement fees, surveys, repairs, removal costs, and furnishing the new home too.
Be sure to make a note of each of these and have them in your plans. It's better to plan for them and then not need to spend that money than to be caught out.
Once you have found the location that you want to live, start to get familiar with it. If you can stay in a hotel close by, or even an Airbnb for a little while to get a feel for the people and the vibe, then do so. If you have children, then ask to visit the local schools that your little ones might be attending. A bit of forward thinking here will help you adjust when the big move arrives. Try visiting the area on different days and at different times so you can see how traffic, noise etc vary.
There are some things that you might not be prepared to negotiate on. When it comes to buying a house, unless you have a lot of cash ready to plough into a redesign, then try to purchase somewhere that has most of what you are looking for already. Big back garden on your list? Then you might have to look a little bit more rural. In need of brilliant transport links? Then the likelihood is you’ll need to buy more inner city. Be clear from the start.
You are not Beholden to Your Estate Agent
Although you might have been with a single agent for a while, nothing is stopping you from going with another company if you haven’t found what you are looking for in your timeframe. Be clear about the agreement you have in place and remember, this isn’t a small decision – get the service you need.
Put on the Squeeze.
You have found the house; the location is to die for. You want to make an offer, but you really need to ask some questions before diving in head first.
• How long has it been on the market?
• How many offers has it had to date?
• Why are the sellers moving?
• Have there been any renovations?
• What are the neighbors like?
• What is included in the sale?
Ask as many questions as you can before you put the offer in. Finding these things out, later on, might not be great.
Take a slow walk around the property and look for the following:
• Open and close all windows, if they have locks do they have keys?
• Check for damp / mould / mildew
• Check all sockets
• Use the toilets and taps in the property
• Is the heating on? Check the radiators
• Take a peek at the security
• Is there an attic or a cellar?
Go Back Again
After your love at first sight viewing, go back again. Have you ever drunk a bottle of wine and declared it to be so delicious, you just had to have more? You took a leap and purchased a case. When it arrives, after one sip you realise, it wasn’t the wine, it was the company.
The same thing can happen, the agent is working hard for their commission and can sweet talk their way to a sale on many properties. So, head back to the property. More than once, at different times of the day. There is a fine line as to how many times is going to be acceptable, but at least three – one morning, one mid-afternoon and one in the evening should give you plenty of insight into what the location is really like.
How Much Should You Offer?
Be sure to check the prices locally of other sales before you get to this point. Don’t go in with your upper limit straight away; you need to leave yourself some bargaining room. Your agent should be able to guide you gently towards what might be a good offer here but remember that they work on commission so not all of them will play fair. While you’re in this process, get all the fixtures, fittings and everything else you discussed in writing.
Be Sure of Your ‘Get Out’ Point.
You need to be sure at what point it is no longer possible to withdraw any offers without a big payout.
Compare, Compare and Compare
Get as many quotes from moving companies as you can. If you know you will need help getting the house boxed up, the van loaded and unloaded at the other end, ensure that you get the right quote. Ask what the removal company provide concerning bubble wrap, boxes and guarantees. It isn’t wise to just accept the lowest rate; often it comes with the most inferior service too. The same goes for any of the suppliers that you’ve been using up until now, sit down and compare everything from insurances to gas providers. If you can get a better deal then do so, make use of the change already happening and change up a few more things too!
Before you move in, head over with some friends and family to give the house a good clean down. For the last short while people have been visiting with the view to buy, and that is a lot of footprints to dust down. If you don’t have the time to do this, then get a company in to do it for you. Check locally for who comes highly recommended.
Make a point of going to the neighbors on each side of the house and introducing yourself. Let them know that there might be some noise over the next few days as you are moving in. It is always a great idea to make friends with your neighbors as early as possible if anything should go wrong you know someone locally who is likely to help you out.
When Does the Fun Start?
So, you have got to the end of the process, it might’ve taken a while, but you are the owner of a beautiful new space. Treat it like a blank canvas. Most people moving to a new house will have set aside a budget to decorate with. It is now you can make your house, your home. You can DIY it, or you can choose to get some decorators to help you. If you are stuck for ideas, check out some design blogs or Pinterest.
Perhaps you already had an idea in your head about how your home interior would look, and now it is just a case of working on it for a little while.
At any rate, now you have the keys, you own the door, and have made the leap into long-term residency – enjoy!
*This is a collaborative post*