Getting a foot on the property ladder has always been a significant step to take, but in these austere economic times it may seem like more of a pipe dream than a rite of passage to many young people around the country. Whilst saving up for a deposit is often the most challenging hurdle for first-time buyers, there are a few ways to make the process slightly less daunting.
Keep your budget in mind
If you’ve been fortunate enough to receive a mortgage offer from your bank, it’s important to keep your budget in mind first and foremost. Focusing your energy on properties that are just outside of your price range can often be a waste of time – as many buyers will hold out to receive the full asking price, particularly in a market where house prices are on the up.
Sometimes, putting in an offer just below the asking price on a property that’s outside of your budget by a slim margin can pay off though, especially if the property has been on the market for a while – or if the seller is part of a chain and keen to move out ASAP. Improve your prospects by asking your estate agent to do some research: having insider information on the seller can often be a big help.
Look in unusual places
Whilst buying through an estate agent is often the most convenient (and broadly adopted) method, it’s worth bearing in mind that estate agents are costly, and their cut can be anywhere between 1.5% and 2% of the property price. If you’re keen to cut costs, you may want to explore other avenues, such as auctions, which may yield a better deal in some cases – though it does place the onus on you to perform all the research on the property and handle all the technicalities.
Know the buying process inside-out
Buying a home is far more complicated than simply securing a mortgage and moving in, and unfortunately there are lots of hoops to jump through before the sale is complete, which can naturally be confusing for first-timers. Make sure that you’re aware of every aspect of the buying process – the government website is a fantastic source of information on everything from stamp duty and surveyors’ fees to contracts and Energy Performance Certificates. You’ll also need to think about getting a Swiftcover Home Insurance policy to protect your investment.
The government’s recently launched Help to Buy scheme offers buyers who are struggling to save up a deposit a valuable lifeline. Up to a maximum of 20% of the purchase price is available to the buyer through an equity loan funded by the government, which is charge-free for the first five years. Buyers are only required to provide a 5% deposit, making it much easier for people to be approved for mortgages.