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I want to buy a home but have no idea where to start: What is the first step I need to take?


I want to buy a home but I’m a first-time buyer and have no idea where to start. 

What’s the first step I need to take? L.B

We take a look at some of the key questions to ask yourself when buying a property

We take a look at some of the key questions to ask yourself when buying a property

MailOnline Property expert Myra Butterworth replies: Buying your first home can be a daunting prospect.

There are so many things to think about, from how much money you will need to where and in what sort of property you want to live.

If you can make sure you get the first steps rights, you will be on your way to a successful purchase.

So before you make a serious start, we ask some property experts for their views on what questions you need to ask yourself at the outset. 

Agent Henry Pryor suggests buyers remember the Boy Scout motto: 'Be prepared'

Agent Henry Pryor suggests buyers remember the Boy Scout motto: ‘Be prepared’

Buying agent Henry Pryor suggests these three key questions:

How much money do I have? 

It sounds obvious but half of all house-hunters go looking without actually having the money to threaten an estate agent with. 

Get your finances sorted and arrange a mortgage in principle rather than relying on a widget on a website.

What are my ‘anchor points’?

Where are my friends, job, gym or social life? Look for a home that relates to these things rather than just being fashionable.

You almost certainly won’t be able to afford the best location, but maybe your life doesn’t demand it.

Working from home may mean you can commute much greater distances because you only do so two days a week.

What could I live with?

What do other people dislike that I could live with? For example, do trains or planes bother you? Lots of people would pay to live away from them. 

Do you need to be near a station to commute? Homes in these areas are more expensive.

 Why pay for things that other people want, if you don’t need them or they don’t bother you

And if you don’t have kids, do you need to pay to be in a school catchment area? Why pay for things that other people want, if you don’t need them or they don’t bother you. Why not go for the homes that people don’t want, but that would suit you.

Remember the Boy Scout motto – ‘be prepared’. Buying a house should be the ultimate retail experience, and it only gets a reputation for being as much fun as your grandmother’s funeral because people don’t prepare.

Like everything in life, if it hurts you’re doing it wrong. Get a solicitor who will act for you. Get the money ready. Polish up your credit file. Work out what you actually want. 

You’ll find an army of people who will want to do business with you and because you look serious, they’ll treat you seriously.

Do trains or planes bother you? Questions like these are key according to Henry Pryor

 Do trains or planes bother you? Questions like these are key according to Henry Pryor

North London estate agent Jeremy Leaf had these suggestions: 

When to move

It is not so much about the first step, but ‘steps’ plural, as there are many things to consider when buying a home.

Timing is one of those things: what is the latest comfortable date for moving in, as this will determine when and where you start.

Location

Then, you need to consider the accommodation you require and location – where would suit your commute if you have one, your work and your lifestyle?

If you work from home at least some of the time, you may need a home office. If you work in an office or at a different location for at least part of the week, how convenient is it to get there? 

Also what about your family life, do you want or need to live close to family and friends?

Time horizon

How long do you anticipate living there, and will that accommodation still meet your requirements in two, three, five or even ten years ahead? 

How flexible does it need to be to meet your continuing requirements?

What can you afford? 

Then you need to consider cost and affordability, which is clearly just as important as all of the above.

How much can you comfortably afford to pay on your mortgage, and can you get help from family with a deposit?

 What compromises do you need to make, bearing in mind that very few properties will tick every box?

What will you comfortably be able to afford, building in your own buffers in anticipation of interest rates potentially rising further, and taking into account any criteria imposed by the lender, assuming you need a mortgage.

You may want to speak to a whole-of-market mortgage broker who can give you a broad idea as to how much you can borrow and what it would cost.

When you have answered all of those questions, you might want to start looking at locations. What compromises do you need to make, bearing in mind that very few properties will tick every box? 

When you have concentrated on, or drilled down, to an area that you may be comfortable in, then think about the type of property and how much it will cost over the next few years at least by going in with your eyes open in terms of service charges, repairs required etc.

A survey or condition report will help answer your questions, while there is plenty of information about the use and value of property available on the internet without the need to spend any money.



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