With prices slowing a little it is now possible to obtain a mortgage with a decent rate if you have a deposit of 10% or 5%. Life is a little less tough for first-time buyers – but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. If you’re thinking of buying a home for the first time, here is what you need to know.
- View lots of properties – this is the only way you will spot a well-priced property when it comes on the market. Justin Bhoday, sales manager at KFH's Kennington branch, suggests going to see between 12 and 15 properties.
- Viewing a good number of properties will also help you be specific about what it is you want. ‘Agents love buyers who know what they are looking for, make time to view and who provide feedback after viewings,’ he says. ‘It shows commitment.’ Treat agents with respect and work with them – your aim for the relationship is for them to call you first when a good property hits the market.
- Making an offer for the first time is nerve-wracking, but it’s likely to be just the beginning. Bhoday recommends not spending too much time agonising over the perfect offer and cracking on with it. ‘It’s good to break the ice and discover how the offering process works. It opens up lines of communication between the buyer and seller,’ he says.
- Make your offer personal – first-time buyers are often up against buy-to-let investors who may have bigger deposits and budgets. For some vendors, selling to someone planning to live in the property and make it their family home is preferable, so let a seller know your circumstances.
- If your parents are involved in the purchase, and chances are these days they will be, it’s best to go to viewings together. It saves getting emotionally attached to a property and making an offer, only for a parent to veto it down the line.
- Flexibility can be the difference between securing a property and losing out. Try to arrange a flexible tenancy with your landlord that will allow you to move as quickly or as slowly as required.
- The Help to Buy ISA scheme is due to start this autumn. Save a maximum of £200 a month in a tax-free savings account and the government adds 25% (£50 a month if you save the maximum) just before you buy. The maximum amount the government will pay out is £3,000 and the cap on property price is £450,000 in London and £250,000 outside of London.
- For buyers with a 10% deposit, it should be possible to get an interest rate of between 2 and 3%. There are decent rates available through Help to Buy, too, for buyers with a deposit of 5%.
This article was written by Jessie Hewitson, a property and personal finance writer at The Times. Before working at The Times she was a freelance property and travel writer for, among other publications, the Telegraph and Tatler magazine. She is a second time home owner living in Crouch End in North London, with her husband and son.
The article is an extension of one which originally appeared in issue 17 of Completely London magazine. Completely London is our award winning customer magazine which we produce several times a year. Alongside exclusive features about living in the Capital and the London property market, we showcase a number of properties for sale and to let.