Top Tips For Buying Your First Home
Post in collaboration with CIA Landlord Insurance
Ah the home buying process, also known as the most stressful six months of my existence. They don’t teach you this stuff in school, that’s for sure! Whilst I’m so glad Charlie and I made our way onto the seemingly impossible property ladder, it was an intense process and one that if I’m honest, I was totally unprepared for. Now that we’ve gone through the house-buying stages from initial viewing to renovation of our home, it’s fair to say I’ve learnt a lot along the way.
I wish I had undertaken more research as to what’s involved when purchasing a property, and taken the time to understand all of the paperwork that your solicitors will be sending to you left, right and centre. You live and learn, and hopefully my mistakes will serve as guidance for anyone reading this post who is about to start looking for their first home!
Research the local area
Moving somewhere new is a daunting yet exciting decision. If you have little prior knowledge surrounding the local area then it’s a good idea to undertake plenty of research to avoid any surprises. The team at CIA Landlord Insurance have created a handy property stats tool that provides you information regarding the average house prices and crime rates in a given area based off of the postcode. I’ve just done a quick search of mine and we’re juuuust in the category for ‘low’ crime rate which is reassuring!
Use a mortgage broker
Finding the right mortgage for you is a complete minefield, ESPECIALLY if you’re self-employed. At the time I was in full-time employment but Charlie was running his own decorating business. It made it slightly tricky finding a provider who was happy to lend us the money with Charlie being self-employedbut having the help of a mortgage broker made life so much easier. They take the time to understand your situation and explain everything layman’s terms. This is definitely one of my top pieces of advice!
Find your own solicitor
We viewed a number of properties before finding our diamond in the rough, and came across our fair share of slimy estate agents. I know that’s a bit of a sweeping statement but a couple of them really did live up to their reputation. We put in an offer for a beautiful apartment which ultimately fell through (it was meant to be!) and the pressure we had from the estate agents to use their recommended solicitor and mortgage advisors was borderline harassment. Make it clear that you’ll put together your own arrangements. This is what we did and it saved us a small fortune.
Pay for a survey
It would be mad if Charlie and I bought our first home, a 120-year-old house in need of renovations without getting a survey. But that’s exactly what we did because we love to gamble with our life savings. No, in all seriousness we totally didn’t know what we were doing and on reflection a survey probably would have been handy. The need for a brand-new roof would have been much less of a shock and I would have avoided the minor heart attack as a result. You live and learn though hey. Oh, and side note – a property valuation is different to a survey. A survey can see you back about 500 quid or so.
Take out insurance as soon as the papers are signed
I won’t go in to too much detail but the night of the day we exchanged we had a panicked phone call from our soon-to-be neighbours telling us our roof had collapsed. Oh crap, was my initial reaction. We hadn’t seen this coming (told you a survey is a good idea) and the question was; who is responsible? We hadn’t been given the keys, but we’d also signed the paper work and hadn’t taken out any home and contents insurance yet. Luckily, the problem didn’t turn out to be a huge deal and we paid for the new roof so it turned out ok but my advice to you is take out the home insurance as soon as you sign the dotted line to ensure you’re covered for any crazy experiences like ours!
Have a Move-Out Plan
Although it will be a while before you move into your new home as everything gets finalised, you should still have a plan when the day comes. There’s nothing wrong with getting started right now, especially if you know for certain that this home is yours.
You can save yourself plenty of stress later on by researching companies to handle removals and pack anything you know you won’t need in a pinch over the next few months. This could be all your winter coats (if you’re moving during the summer), but also books, games, and any other bits and bobs that you won’t require immediately. The more detailed your move-out plan, the easier it will be to keep on schedule when the day finally arrives.