​ First Time Buyer’s Guide: Tips For Buying Your First Home

Wednesday 20th March 2024

 Stepping onto the property ladder can be daunting, however it’s also an incredibly exciting time. If you’re thinking about buying your first home but are a little unsure about the process, don’t panic! Our simple first-time buyer’s guide is here to give you all the information you need about what to do when buying your first home.

 1. Work out your mortgage options

Before you start looking for a property, you need to have an idea of what you can afford, a vital first step on our first-time buyer’s guide. The easiest way to do this is to visit a mortgage advisor who will be able to talk you through the different mortgage options that are available and give you a good idea of what you can afford. The initial deposit, length of the mortgage and interest rate all affect your monthly mortgage payments and so these are all important factors to consider.

2. Save for a deposit

No first-time buyer’s guide would be complete without mentioning the importance of saving for a deposit. A deposit is typically between 5-20% of the property’s value, and so it’s certainly not a small amount of money. That’s why it’s important to start saving early and think about setting money aside in an ISA where you will earn a higher amount of interest.

 3. Finding the property itself

The next, and probably most exciting step in our first time buyer’s guide involves searching for your dream home. When reading property descriptions, look out for certain factors including the age of the property, floor plans, storage space, energy efficiency rating, double glazing and council tax. Consider what you want from the property and surrounding area. What are the shops and facilities like? Are there good transport links? What are the local schools like? These are all good starting factors to help narrow down your search. Once you view the properties in person, you’ll be able to get more of a feel for whether or not it’s the right home for you.

 4. Get a mortgage in principle

 Before you start viewing properties in person, it’s a good idea to get a mortgage agreement in principle. This will give you a rough idea of what you can afford, how much you can borrow and how much you’re likely to pay each month.

 5. Attend viewings

 Another exciting step on our first time buyer’s guide is viewing the properties. This is your chance to get a feel for the place and see if you could picture yourself living there. Viewings are also a precious chance to ask any questions you might have and so it’s always a good idea to be prepared.

 6. Make an offer

This is the point at which you make that all important offer. Make sure that the offer is realistic because otherwise the estate agent is unlikely to accept. If they don’t accept you might have to go back and reassess your figures. If they do accept then you’ll receive a written contract titled ‘Subject to survey and contract’. At this stage, you should also formally apply for your mortgage. If you’ve already got a mortgage in principle this should speed things up as it will just be a case of finishing off the process.

 7. Surveys and conveyancing

Conveyancing means transferring ownership of the property from one party to another. A qualified conveyancing solicitor will be able to take you through this process. At this point, you’ll also need to instruct a surveyor who will be able to highlight any structural issues in the property.


8. Exchanging contracts

This part of our first time buyer’s guide involves finalising the buying process. Once the mortgage has been approved and the solicitor is happy with the survey, you can sign the contract giving you ownership of the house. The seller will sign their copy and each party's solicitors will swap contracts to be signed by the opposite party. This is the point at which you’ll also pay your deposit.


9. Insuring the house

Your mortgage lender is likely to insist that you buy home insurance, however regardless of this, it’s always a good idea to insure your home. This will give you peace of mind in case of flooding, theft or other potential damages.

10. Get moving!

Last but certainly not least in our first time buyer’s guide is the big move itself. This is the most exciting part of buying your first home and doesn’t need to be stressful if organised in the right way. Our sister company Hackworthy & Sons, can make the process as stress free as possible from packing up your belongings to unpacking them in your new home. You can also rent one of our storage units at any of our sites to help with a decluttering and unpacking bit by bit.

A quick note on stamp duty

Stamp duty is a land tax that you pay on your home. The more valuable the property is, the higher the stamp duty. Under the latest rules, the stamp duty threshold for first-time buyers, no stamp duty is due on the first £425,000 of a residential property (provided it’s your main residence and not a second home).

    • Beyond that threshold, here are the stamp duty rates:
      • Up to £250,000 (£425,000 for first-time buyers): 0%
      • £250,001 – £925,000: 5%
      • £925,001 – £1,500,000: 10%
      • £1,500,001 and above: 12%