There’s no doubt that buying your first home is one of the most exciting times in anyone’s life. However, do not let yourself get caught up in the whirlwind of this excitement, as there are a number of practical considerations that you need to take into account.
No one wants to buy what they think is their dream home only to find a few weeks after moving in that there were a number of nasty surprises lurking.
A bit of thought and planning before you buy your home is time, money and upset saved in the long term. Follow these tips on buying your first home to ensure that everything goes smoothly.
Ensure your finances are in good shape
Hopefully, you will already have started to save for your deposit. If you have not already done so, it is a good idea to record your monthly outgoings and think about whether these can be tightened up in any way.
Not only will this help your deposit mount up, but it will also strengthen your mortgage offer, as your outgoings will be considered in relation to your income. Forgetting the cost of the house, moving in itself is an expensive process, as you need to factor in costs related to fees for your solicitor, land searches and stamp duty. Be sure to have enough money to cover these additional expenses.
Be realistic about how much you can afford
While you might want to get the largest mortgage you can to give you the best chance of securing your ideal home, don’t over-stretch yourself.
When you are living in your new home, however much homework you’ve done on the property, there will still be those unexpected house-related expenses from time to time; not to mention any other unanticipated costs that life has a habit of throwing our way.
Make sure that after your monthly mortgage repayments and other living expenses you will still have enough money left to pay for anything that comes out of the blue.
You will also want to factor in a little money each month to still allow you to enjoy yourself – as no matter how much you may like your new home, you won’t want to stay in every evening watching TV.
Prioritize your needs
As much as you might like to think that your first property will be the perfect home, chances are this won’t be the case.
You might like the idea of having two spare rooms for if your friends stay or being in the catchment area for a good school, but you might want to rethink any decisions pinned on “what ifs” or something that may happen further down the line, especially if this results in a significant increase in the price you would need to pay for your home. It’s important to think about what is a priority to you now and what you really need.
Factors such as the style and age of the property will likely feature on your agenda, but also consider practical factors such as how many bedrooms you actually need, whether you want a garden and the ease of your commute to work. This priority list can help you to select the properties you would like to view.
Remember that internal decor can be changed
The wallpaper might not be to your taste, you don’t like the carpet in a kitchen and you aren’t keen on the color of the bathroom suite. However, these considerations are minor and shouldn’t really influence your decision on whether to buy a house or not.
Once a house is yours you can do whatever you want with the decor and with the time you can always make changes to a kitchen and bathroom.
However, it’s important to avoid the other end of the spectrum too – don’t be tempted to take on a property that requires a complete refit unless you are fully aware of the amount of work and cost that this will involve.
Be aware of warning signs to look out for
When viewing a house don’t just think about how your furniture might fit, lookout for signs that might indicate that all is not well with the property:
- Beware of damp. Peeling wallpaper, bubbling paint, watermarks on ceilings and mold are classic signs. Be wary of the freshly painted wall; are they trying to hide something?
- Look for cracks. Large cracks in walls can indicate subsidence, a very costly problem and usually not covered by home insurance.
- Check the windows. For safety and security, they should all open fully and be locked with a key. Although UPVC windows are now very common, if windows still have wooden frames check that they aren’t rotten – cracking paint can be an indicator, but feeling soft to the touch is the giveaway. If windows aren’t double glazed be aware that your heating bills will be higher.
- A glance at the electrical sockets. If they don’t look modern, it’s likely that the wiring won’t be either. Ask the owner if they know when the house was last rewired.
- Ask about the heating. While central heating might be the norm, do ask about the boiler – how old it is and when was its last service? Check yourself that radiators work and note whether the temperature of each radiator can be individually controlled – something that can save you money, as each room is only as warm as you want it to be.
Don’t make a snap decision
Finding the right house isn’t something that can be rushed, so don’t feel pressured into putting in an offer on a property unless you are sure.
Take a little time to think about it and discuss the pros and cons of family and friends. It’s usually a good idea to go back for a second viewing, perhaps taking someone with you like another set of eyes.
Making an offer
You might have found the home that you really want, but don’t feel that you have to offer the asking price. Before putting your offer to find out how much other similar properties have sold for in the area – this information is freely available on the internet.
It’s also useful to find out from the estate agent how long the property has been on the market for, as the longer, it has been, the more likely it is to be over-priced.
Don’t feel disheartened if your first offer isn’t accepted – if you can afford to, put in a slightly higher offer and if not, with time the seller may change their mind if they haven’t had much interest in the property.
Bring in an expert
If you don’t feel confident in your ability to spot potential problems with the house or just want an expert opinion, consider hiring a surveyor once your offer has been accepted.
While surveys might seem like an unnecessary expense, it can be cheaper, in the long run, to have one done, especially if it is an older property that is more likely to have problems stored up.
Confidence that you have found the right house and with your finances arranged, fingers crossed whoever you are buying from has also found a property and everything goes to plan. Whilst waiting for the legal side of things to be completed, perhaps it‘s time to start thinking about the carpets and curtains?
Read also: Preparing A House For A Fast Sale
Five Often Unforeseen Issues Homeowners May Face
People who are going from renting to owning their own home usually think about having to pay for their mortgage and moving costs, but there are many things that first-time homeowners may not think about. Appliances, maintenance, and yard work are among the things that don’t occur to most people until they have to deal with them.
Mice, termites, or other pests invade nearly every home at one time or another. Some pests only invade during the summer, while others may not be visible until the winter months. It’s smart for a potential homeowner to have a professional inspect a home for pest issues before they sign the final paperwork to purchase the home.
A professional from a Virginia termite inspection company has suggested that you look for all the signs of termites and other pests when you tour prospective homes. It’s, unfortunately, true that some real estate agents cover up pest issues when selling a home. Do your due diligence.
People who go from renting an apartment to owning a home may be unprepared for the costs associated with heating and cooling a larger space. Most of the time a new homeowner can ask the seller, their realtor, or the utility company for an estimate of the heating bills based on the last homeowner’s usage.
The bills will vary slightly with the weather, but this will give you a baseline figure so that you can approximate your monthly bills each season.
Renters insurance tends to be much cheaper than homeowners’ insurance and some homeowners aren’t prepared for the increased costs. Just like any other type of insurance, it is important to shop around and make sure that you are getting the best coverage for the amount of money you are paying each month or year for insurance coverage.
Private mortgage insurance can also be pricey, so homeowners who don’t have a large amount of money to put down on their house should be prepared for the extra cost.
Most landlords cover the cost of landscaping and yard work, so new homeowners may not be expecting to do the amount of work that is required to keep their yard in good shape. Mowing, weeding, raking, trimming and shoveling are the responsibility of each homeowner.
You can do the work yourself or hire a maintenance company to do it for you. You may also need to purchase tools for working in the yard such as shovels and rakes.
Some homes are sold with the existing appliances included, while others require the new homeowner to bring in their own appliances. This should be clearly spelled out in the contract. It’s up to the seller to make sure that any appliances that are left in the home are in good working order.
Some new homeowners decide to replace all of the appliances even if they are included in the purchase price so that they don’t inherit issues that were caused by the previous homeowner. This can be expensive.
Plan ahead, vet those you work with and prepare thoroughly and issues like these won’t catch you and your wallet off guard.