Top tips for first-time buyers

  • Get it right first time with helpful hints on buying a home and getting a mortgage
  • 10 suggestions for a stress-free property purchase

Do your research

One smart move is to get clued up on the mortgage and homebuying process before you begin, because it can be complex. This guide is a great start, plus word of mouth recommendations for solicitors, surveyors and removal firms can be invaluable.

Save, save, save

Buying your first home is expensive and saving as much as possible is important, not only to cover the costs but also to maximise the size of your deposit. The more you can put down the more deals will become accessible to you, and those with the biggest deposits get access to the cheapest deals in the mortgage market. It makes sense to get saving before you decide to buy.

Avoid arrears

When a mortgage lender checks you out, it’s helpful if they can see you have managed credit successfully in the past. However, if you have a history of missing credit card repayments this will reflect badly on you when you apply for a mortgage. Even going overdrawn on your bank account (unauthorised) can raise alarm bells with mortgage lenders. So if you think you will want to get a property in the next year or so, start managing your finances scrupulously now.

Do your sums

The costs of buying a home quickly mount up, so it’s wise to do your sums to work out exactly how much the process will cost you. You are likely to incur a mortgage fee, conveyancing costs, removal fees, and potentially Stamp Duty depending on the property value. Remember there is no point allocating all of your savings to a deposit if you haven’t accounted for these other costs too.

Know what you want

Know your property priorities before househunting. Otherwise it is all too easy to be swayed by an immaculately presented property that doesn’t actually meet your essential needs, or to be put off by a messy place that is in fact perfectly suited to you. Think about what you need and what you want in a home – the ‘need to haves’ and ‘nice to haves’ – and write a tick list. It should only take five minutes and really helps you remember the features of a property after you have viewed it.

Go for a broker

An independent mortgage broker can save you money by finding you the most suitable deal on the market, and save you time because they are experienced in working with lenders to push deals through to completion. Plus they are fully qualified to give you personal advice, tailored exactly to your needs, and will hold your hand through the entire homebuying process.

What’s your attitude to risk?

Think about whether or not you are comfortable with your monthly repayments rising over an agreed term. If you have a decent amount of leeway in your budget this may not be a problem for you, especially if it gives you access to a wider range of deals right now. But if you need to know your monthly repayments are set in stone, a fixed rate mortgage might be a safer bet.

Take cover

Your house is likely to be your most valuable asset so it makes sense to protect it with buildings and contents cover. But there are other insurance policies that could prove invaluable and are worth checking out. Life insurance is highly recommended if you have dependents so that your mortgage would be paid off in the event of your death. Critical illness cover pays out a lump sum (set by you) if you are diagnosed with a serious illness, and protection insurance will pay you a monthly amount should you become unable to work due to ill health.

Help for FTBs

Some lenders have special first-time buyer deals that enable applicants to get onto the ladder with the help of friends and family. These could be joint mortgages or guarantor deals, for example, and it’s worth checking them out if you think you could benefit from having your parents back your mortgage.

Go digital

Technology can give you an advantage in just about all aspects of modern life, and this includes buying a house. Whether you want to search for a property using a homebuying app, do a bit of mortgage research online or pay your removal firm while on the move, mobile technology allows you to do this wherever you are, 24 hours a day. You might choose face-to-face advice but you can still harness the power of the internet to help you through the homebuying process.

More from this guide

How much can I borrow?

How lenders work it out

Mortgage basics

Fixed vs variable rates

Valuations and surveys

How much should you spend?