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buyer information

Advice for First-Time Buyers

Buying a house is an exciting time in life but it's easy to get carried away without thinking how to avoid some of the heartache and pain many buyers experience. Follow these eight easy steps to buying your first home.


One: Work out how much you can afford to borrow

Before viewing any properties spend some time thinking about how much you can afford to borrow. Ideally you should talk to an Independent Financial Adviser or Mortgage Broker. They will need to know how much deposit you have and how much you earn. They can then give you advice on the best deals to suit your circumstances. They can also arrange what's known as an Agreement in Principle. This is really useful when it comes to making an offer on the home you want. To find a good adviser ask your friends, family and colleagues for personal recommendations. We can also recommend a trusted adviser - for more informartion click here.

Two: What kind of property do you want?

So now you know what you can afford you can start your house hunt. But first think about what you need and want from a property. Here are some questions you might want to consider...

  • Do you want a new or recently built home or an older property?
  • Do you want a house or a flat?
  • Do you want a house you can improve or do you want something you don't have to do any work on?
  • What area do you want to live in (think about work, schools, shops, transport)?
  • How many rooms would you like?
  • How many bedrooms do you need?
  • Do you need car parking facilities?
  • Do you want a garden?

When you have decided on your priorities you can start looking for properties. The best place to search is on Rightmove, but it's also a good idea to talk to an estate agent like Lifestyle Homes to let them know what you are looking for. We can put you on our mailing list so that you get information about new sales as soon as we get the information.

Three: Take a look at some properties

Generally it's a good idea to view lots of properties when you are a first-time buyer. This gets you used to what's available and what you can expect to find in your budget. However, if you find a property early on and you really want it, then go for it. Waiting to see other properties might mean you miss out on your dream home. To view a property you simply phone the estate agent and make an appointment. Nowadays you are entitled to see the Home Information Pack on properties you look at and these contain information about the energy efficiency and certain legal aspects of the property.

At Lifestyle Homes we're open from 9am to 9pm every day of the week so if you see something on our site that you like, just give us a call.

Four: Make an offer

You make your offer through your estate agent who acts as a negotiator between you and the seller. When you make your offer it's generally a good idea to give yourself some room to breathe within your budget. Be prepared to raise your offer if it's not accepted. If your offer is accepted the estate agent will write to you to confirm this and notify your solicitor and the seller's solicitors to start the legal work.

As a first-time buyer you will have an advantage over other buyers because you have nothing to sell and so can move quickly. However, sellers will still need to know you have the finances to make the purchase. This is where the Agreement in Principle (see step one) comes in. When you make an offer the estate agent will ask for evidence that you can obtain a mortgage and the Agreement in Principle does this. But don't worry if you haven't done this yet. Just contact us at Lifestyle Homes and we'll put you in touch with an independent adviser.

Five: Appoint your solicitor/conveyancer

Your solicitor/conveyancer carries out the legal and administrative work involved in the sale and purchase of property. They will discuss with you dates for exchange of contracts and completion of the sale (the day you get the keys). They will investigate the legal aspects of the property such as whether it is affected by any rights of way, previous industrial works (e.g. coal mines) or planning permissions; they will also check whether there are any charges or binding obligations that affect the land (for example 'chancel' - the right of local churches to levy a charge on the community for repairs). Many of these investigations are called searches.

Most solicitors/conveyancers will charge a fixed fee, but remember to check whether you'll need to pay extra for things like Land Registry Fees, local searches or whether they are included.

It's a good idea to know in advance who you will appoint so that things don't get delayed once your offer is accepted. Again, ask your friends, family and colleagues for personal recommendations. We can also recommend good solicitors - use the Other Services link or the Contact form to find out more.

Six: All about Surveys

Your mortgage company will insist on a valuation survey as a minimum. This is so they can decide if they are willing to lend on this type of property. As a first time buyer it's also a good idea to get a home condition survey which will highlight whether there are any issues that need to be dealt with. Sometimes you might need a structural survey, for example if there are major cracks in a wall. If it looks like it will cost a lot of money to remedy a problem you can always try to re-negotiate or withdraw your offer. Just to note you won't get a refund on your survey if you decide to withdraw your offer.

Seven: Exchanging contracts

When all the legal research has been done and your mortgage is in place your solicitor/conveyancer will ask you to sign the contract for the purchase of your new home. This contract is legally binding so make sure that you are totally committed. On the day agreed by both parties these contracts will be exchanged and you will need to give your deposit to your solicitor. At the point of exchange your moving day (completion) will also be agreed.

Eight: Moving in

This date is known as completion. The solicitors on both sides will do their final checks and then notify the estate agent that the keys can be released to you. The estate agent will then phone you to ask you to come and collect the keys and you will need to bring photographic evidence (e.g. passport) of who you are.

To make things go smoothly you should sort out the following things as soon as exchange takes place:

  • Book a removals firm (ideally sort this out before exchange)
  • Contact utility companies (gas, electricity, water, telephone)
  • Organise redirection of your mail with the Post Office


And that's it! You're now officially a homeowner! Now all you have to do buy the drinks for that all important house warming party! We hope you enjoy many years in your first home. And remember when you come to move on, Lifestyle Homes will be here to help you.


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