First time buyer guide. From point A to having an offer accepted.

Buying your first property is a massive deal and rather exciting.  What bigger purchase will someone make in their life?

Firstly I’d like to list 5 things I see first time buyers doing that negatively impact their buying process the most.

1. Taking advice from parents/friends/family that haven’t moved themselves in a really long time.  Is bad advice truly advice?

2. Not doing enough research in the right areas.  Scouring Rightmove is such a tiny part of things.  It’s the most fun though!

3. Rushing in to making a decision on a poor property.  

4. Not being decisive enough when a great property comes up.  This one hurts more than the above!

5.  Panicking over minor things and not being concerned enough with often serious issues.  How do you know what is and isn’t a serious issue?  Research and learning.

So how do first time buyers go from being a total noob buyer, to a skilled operator?  It’s not actually that hard.  Here’s my step by step guide on how to be a good first time buyer.

1.  You are seen as easy prey.  In the process of you buying a property, people will make money from your decisions.  Many estate agents, mortgage advisors and solicitors are at work to earn money ahead of providing a service.  Be careful.  *There are exceptions to the rule. But better safe than sorry, I say.

2. First step forward is to make sure you are actually in a position to buy.  Can you get the mortgage?  Do you have a big enough deposit?  Go online and do research but importantly find a decent mortgage broker/advisor.  The number of bank ‘advisors’ that mislead people is huge.  Get firm advice at this point in time.

3. So you can get the money, what do you do next?  This is the time where I find buyers stop putting in the correct work and probably end up buying something not right.  Remember, although you’re excited to find somewhere, rushing can be a big mistake.  Keep researching.  You probably have a good idea as to what areas you’d like to live in, so get online and have a look around for your budget.  Get a feel for what is out there.

4.  Once you have a good feel for what is and isn’t available to you, set a list of priorities.  This list will really help when it comes to viewing as you don’t get sidetracked by a pretty worktop in the kitchen (I’ve seen this), or a nice carpet and end up sacrificing something that’s actually important to you. Examples of what might be important are – number of bedrooms, size of bathroom, is there a kitchen/diner, garden space, parking, school catchment, if it’s a flat length of lease, which floor etc.

5. Get back online and start booking some viewings!  Look at the floorplan of a property as the images from some estate agents make even the nicest house look like a grotty cave.

6.  When on viewings, remember to be nice to EVERYONE.  Having people on side will help you get the best deal. Be polite with the estate agent, but they will often try and sell you things like mortgage appointments, solicitors deals etc. but just ignore them, say you’re sorted and would like to concentrate on the property.  The deals these agents offer are almost always poor quality and expensive.

7.  So what are you looking for on a first viewing?  Just relax, have a look around and see if you like the feel, space and condition.  Don’t rush, but you don’t need to take forever either.  This isn’t the viewing to decide if you wish to buy or not, it’s just to see if it’s worth putting on your list to consider.

8.  So you’ve seen 10 places and now come across the property of your dreams.  Superb.  What next?  Always take a second viewing or even a third.  Go through your list of requirements, does it tick enough boxes?  Information you want on the property prior to considering putting in an offer is:

  • How long has it been on the market?
  • What’s the position of the owner?  How quickly do they wish to move, will they be buying something?  When offering, tailor your time-scale to their requirements if possible.
  • Check the land registry and see what property in the road sold for.  Take a drive down there with the printed out list.  Get a feel for the price of the one you like.
  • If it’s a leasehold property, request all lease details.  If the lease is short (less than 85 years these days) then it’s worth finding out what the cost of extending it is going to be.

9.  So it all stacks up and you want to put in an offer.  The one thing I see most from first time buyers is a lack of conviction.  Remember, you’ve done your research, you’re a good buyer and any offer you put in is serious.  Put it in writing.  Buying a house is not like the mock hard negotiation you see on TV series.  Getting an owners back up with a really cheeky first offer will guarantee they will be harder to negotiate with.  You’re far better off saying “We love the house and really would love to bring our family up there, but our budget is limited” than “There’s loads of work that needs doing and it’s just not worth the price it’s on the market at.”.  Make sure every offer is serious.  (This doesn’t mean overpay).  You’ve done your research, you know what the house is worth.

10.  On acceptance of an offer request the property is taken straight off the market.

11.  Time to find a solicitor and manage the purchase………………..  This will be covered in a second guide for first time buyers.