6 Things To Know When You're A First Time Buyer

This may sound a bit stupid to some of you, but for us we didn't even know where to begin. I had previously visited the bank and spoke to them about borrowing money on my own for a mortgage but all that really was calculating my income and working out how much I could borrow, not whether I would get a lender or not. We were fortunate enough that a few friends were in the process of buying houses and my parents had also spoke to a broker recently about a buy to let mortgage so we were recommended a couple of names of local mortgage brokers instead of going to banks directly. If you're local to me in Northern Ireland, I can't recommend Mortgage IQ Ballymena enough, the team there were so helpful with organising our mortgage, surveys, mortgage protection and insurance. They even recommended us a local solicitor to deal with our sale which made the whole experience much less stressful than it could have been, as it was still pretty stressful, I think i even shed a few tears down the phone to them when I thought we were all out of luck.

Probably nothing surprising, but your savings are a big thing when buying a house, but one thing I was a little naive about was that you only needed money for your deposit. No darlin' you need a lot more than that. Factor in, mortgage broker fees, you may have survey fees (we got ours within our mortgage deal so didn't need to pay this), solicitors fees which will include searches, we also had a really small land fee too. My word of advice would be to factor in an extra £1000-1500 for these, it could be more or it could be less depending on what your solicitor charges, and the other additional costs that soon add up. My biggest piece of advice is to open a help to buy ISA which when the money you save is used towards buying a house the government gives you money depending on how much you have saved, I had mine with Santander and having this massively helped towards our costs.

You may be able to borrow £250,000, but you have to consider other factors. Do you like to take yourself clothes shopping when pay day comes calling? Is your favourite everyday foundation £100 and you use two bottles a month? Do you like to go out for food and drink two or three times a week? These are all things to consider when buying a house, when we were looking for houses the number of people who said to us 'Forget about your meals out, and weekends away when you've bought a house'. When we talked about the kind of house we were looking for we wanted something we could run within our salaries as well as still have a life. Whether it be going getting my nails done, or going out for dinner together we wanted to still be able to afford these things as well as have a home we both love and not let it become a burden that stopped us having a life outside of the house. So with this in mind, we lowered our range of house prices to allow for a social life and being able to have some dispensable income each to do with what we liked. 

When I first started looking at houses just myself, I was looking for perfection as I didn't have the slightest idea about DIY or how I would afford to have a new bathroom or kitchen, as lets be honest they are the two most expensive projects in your home and the one's that cause the most upheaval. House number one was a no go as you couldn't swing a cat in a single room in the entire house, house number two needed knocking down in my opinion as it was the only improvement I could see. Fast forward 18 months and I decided to buy a house with my partner and I was much less of a princess, to get a house in the price range we were looking was going to require some work, the house just had to tick our necessity boxes. Was there a decent garden? Check. Three decent bedrooms? Check. Good size kitchen with somewhere to have a table? Check. A living room which we could fit us plus a couple of others? Check. Which ended in us buying number 80. But, we  had to accept it came with a turquoise green bathroom with no decent showering facilities in it, and wallpapered ceilings in a number of rooms (this i think is worse than the bathroom!) it needed new windows and doors but it had what we wouldn't compromise on. We are now home owners since September and we've nearly got rid of all the wallpaper, we've taken out the bathroom suite (apart from the loo for now) and our new one is ordered and is going in next month. There are some things you can compromise on, if it brings a benefit elsewhere, our benefit the counteracted the bathroom was our view out the back of our house as well as the area itself. For us, we've decided to live at home with my family for a couple of years whilst we renovate and it's been easier doing this as we've been able to strip everything back to a blank canvas, in 6 months we've made a dent but the next 18 months will fly in whilst we do the rest of the work.

All this really means is to start gathering a few bits up whilst you're looking for a house or when you're in the process of buying your house as this can take some time, once we knew we were seriously looking into buying a house we started to gather up a few bits and in the beginning we kept them in a spare room at my parents, we now have the things stored in our own house in cupboards and boxes. In the sales I picked up some home accessories, I grabbed a table and chairs off Gumtree cheap which I'm going to paint and re-upholster, I've recently ordered curtains for our lounge too in a sale. Don't go overboard, as you could buy things you have no need for or that may not suit the house, or your taste could change depending how long it will be until you're in the house. I have to admit, I have to reign it in when I'm in TK Maxx because I am obsessed with their home section, so much so, I've had to put myself on a ban until we've a few more rooms complete in the house. The things we have bought are mostly kitchen and bathroom items. I also have a box of cleaning products I've stocked up on when they've been on really good offers, as they will all be used and will save us money when we are into the property. 

Look at plenty of properties, get a good idea of room layouts and what you like and don't like, but don't concentrate on the cosmetic as a quick lick of paint can't completely change the look without costing the world. Think of areas that you like, we had three or four areas local to us that we looked into and all had properties in that matched what we were looking for. Also, trust your gut, you will know when it's the right house for you. It sounds so cliche but when we started to look around our house at the first viewing, I could just see us living in the property once it had our own stamp on it. We then took my parents to see the property and they confirmed it for us, it's a huge commitment buying a house, whether you are going it alone or with your partner, there's no refunds or exchanges within 28 days. It's pretty permanent, so don't go into something unsure, but don't confuse your nerves with doubt, as I've been there worn the t-shirt but once the keys were in our hands and we were opening the door to our house, I knew we had made the best decision we'd made yet in our relationship. 

I hope this is of some help to anyone whose going into buying their first home, it's the most daunting and exciting experience in equal measures, but totally worth it!
I hope to share some of our house updates on here as we complete rooms and show before and afters.

1 comment

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