Top Ten Tips and Tricks for First Time Home Buyers

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Top Ten Tips and Tricks for First Time Home Buyers

There are many things to be aware of when preparing to buy your first home: take a look at our top tips and tricks before you start house hunting.

  1. Budget

    Make sure that you can afford to meet the cost of a property by examining your available funds and disposable income. This will also give an idea of a realistic property price range as a basis to start your search for a suitable first home.

  2. Don't forget about additional costs

    Remember that the price of the house itself is not the end of the story: solicitors and estate agents must be paid before you can collect the keys to your new home. Therefore it is essential to account for these when working out the feasibility of affording a property. Equally, remember to factor in any other additional costs that may be applicable, such as stamp duty or removal costs.

  3. Monthly costings

    Ensure that you calculate the likely monthly costs that will arise after moving into your new home: you must ensure that you are able to sustain the cost of being a homeowner. Experts suggest that you should be looking at spending no more than around '28% of your gross monthly income (GMI) on your mortgage, taxes and homeowners' insurance premium, and up to 36 percent on your total debt'. Additionally, be aware that interest rates may fluctuate. 1

  4. Seek a 'Mortgage Agreement In Principle'

    Before starting to search for houses seek a 'Mortgage Agreement In Principle', to ensure that the appropriate funds would be available to you if you find a suitable property. Shop around for lenders to ensure you are getting the best deal.

  5. Compare house prices in the area

    Take a look at the prices of properties in the area that you are looking to purchase in and in the surrounding areas. This will give an idea of reasonable asking prices and give some idea of the calibre of the area that you are looking at. Research the local amenities and the proximity of potential properties to key facilities. 2

  6. Find a reputable solicitor

    Pay attention to recommendations for solicitors to help guide you through the process and ensure that you have clear details of the cost of their services from the outset. Make sure that your legal representative conducts comprehensive searches prior to completion on a property: land registry checks and applications for planning permission nearby are vital areas of research.

  7. Arrange a full structural survey

    While a basic survey will generally be carried out as a matter of course as part of the mortgage valuation, it is well worth taking the time and paying for a full structural survey of the house that you are intending to buy. A full structural survey eliminates the risk of any expensive surprises after the keys have been handed over.

  8. Keep saving

    While the purchase of a house represents an investment, it is of vital importance to continue saving once you have moved in. Unexpected costs in repairs or in the replacement of items within the home are always a possibility, so it is necessary to have the funds to deal with these expenses when they arise. Set up an 'Emergency Fund' for your home so that ad-hoc costs don't catch you unawares. 3

  9. Maintain your home to retain value

    Regular maintenance can also help to minimise overheads by ensuring that problems are dealt with when they are small and manageable: reparation costs are likely to be considerably higher if issues are left to fester and cause potential further damage within the property.

  10. Don't expect to make a huge profit

    While a house can function as an investment, this should not be the sole focus: make sure that the house that you purchase is one that you will enjoy living in and does not only represent an investment opportunity.

1 '6 Essential Tips for First-Time Homebuyers' (May 12th 2012) Yahoo: Homes.

2 '7 Tips for First-Time Home Buyers' MSN: Real Estate.

3 Amy Fontinelle, 'Top Tips for First-Time Home Buyers' (September 19th 2011), Investopedia.

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