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Top Five Tips On Avoiding Pitfalls When Buying Your First Home

View profile for Alex Kilby
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Purchasing your first home is incredibly exciting but also a little daunting.  This is, after all, one of the biggest purchases you will ever make. 

At Devonalds Solicitors we want to share in the happiness of buying your first home, making the process as easy and smooth as possible.  To help you, here are our top five questions that you should ask yourself before buying your first home:

1.  Have you calculated the true cost of buying a home?

Buying a property is a great way to take care of any discretionary income.  You will find no end of ways to spend your hard-earned cash on renovations and general maintenance. 

When it comes to calculating how much it will cost to get on the property ladder, you need to think far beyond the initial deposit.  It is important to factor in the following expenses:

  • mortgage advice and broker fees
  • valuation fees
  • stamp duty
  • solicitor fees
  • removal costs
  • monthly bills (including council tax and utilities)
  • maintenance and repairs

Before agreeing to give you a mortgage, lenders will perform a stress-test to judge whether you can afford the repayments on your loan if interests rates rise.  To save yourself from disappointment, do your own sums and see what potential repayments would look like if interest rates rise by 2-4%.  Could you manage your mortgage and have a life?  If not, it may pay to adjust your expectations.

2.  Will the home you are looking at, suit your lifestyle in five years’ time?

A lot can change in five years, especially if you are young and just starting out.  Ask yourself if the property you are interested in will accommodate your needs for the next few years.

Remember, you may not be able to afford to buy another house in the near future, so if you are planning to start a family, get a dog or work from home in the next five years, it is good to factor this in when you are searching for a property to call your own.

Write a list of your requirements and consider:

  • how many bedrooms you need
  • the size of the garden space you desire
  • do you need to full fencing?
  • the number of living areas you require
  • do you need a garage or garden shed?
  • have you got the time to work on a fixer-upper, or do you want to move straight into a home that has been recently refurnished?
  • are you happiest in older properties with period features, or do you want a new-build?

3.  Location, location, location

Buying the worst house on the best street is age-old advice for a reason.  When it comes to reselling a home, location is everything.  But your lifestyle needs are just as important when deciding where your first home is situated.  Are you a single, twenty-something whose life revolves around your career, friends, and going out?  Then it would probably be unwise to have your first home located in a sleepy village full of families.  Likewise, if you are looking to start filling your home with the pitter-patter of tiny feet, you need to take the local schools into consideration when deciding where you want to live.

Don’t kid yourself about the toll a lengthy commute to work can take on your quality of life, spending two to four hours a day on a packed train loses its appeal very quickly, regardless of how perfect the location of the property is.

4. Plan your move

If you want a sure-fire way to lose your sanity, leave all your packing until the last week and try and organise a removal company five days before the completion date.

However, if you want to have a nice, calm move, start packing as soon as your offer is accepted.  Collect as many cardboard boxes as you can and pack everything according to rooms, so you know what goes where at the other end.

Make sure you ask friends and family for referrals when choosing a removal company and try to rope in some help on the day.

5.  Choose your solicitor wisely

With all the costs associated with moving it can be tempting to try and skimp on the legal costs.  However, this can cost you thousands of pounds if a mistake is made and you can be left feeling angry and frustrated if your requests for information are left unanswered by a cheaper, online conveyancer.

Investing in an experienced solicitor will give you the confidence of knowing that the title to your property and all relevant surveys and local body information has been checked thoroughly.  Given the amount of money changing hands, there has been a significant rise in identity theft and online fraud targeted at conveyancing transactions.  Established, quality law firms have policies and procedures in place to protect clients from this type of crime, which keeps you and your hard-earned deposit safe.

One way to ensure you pick an experienced solicitor which meets industry standards is to look for a law firm that has received a Conveyancing Quality accreditation from the Law Society of England and Wales. 

Final words

By taking the time to plan your first home purchase, you can save yourself a lot of aggravation, and in worst case scenarios, thousands of pounds, if things go wrong or you choose the wrong house.

The old cliché, “act in haste, repent at leisure” was coined for homebuyers.  Let Devonalds Solicitors ensure you are cracking open a bottle of champagne when you buy your first home, not cleaning up a messy mistake.

As a long-established South Wales law firm, Devonalds Solicitors have assisted many first-time buyers successfully purchase their home. We are renowned for our expertise in property law and hold a Quality Conveyancing accreditation from the Law Society.  We are committed to being clear on costs and always have our clients’ best interests at heart. If you wish to instruct us to advise you on buying your first home, please get in touch with our friendly experts today.