The thought of buying your first home is both exciting and scary. It is incredibly exciting that you are finally able to take that step into the property market and own a home of your own. Scary in that it is a big financial step into an unpredictable market at times. Particularly if you are coming from a rental background, where rent is more affordable and there is less responsibility on your shoulders. We have a few tips for first-time homeowners to help ease you into this process and avoid being taken advantage of.
You may fall in love with the first home you walk into and put your money on the table right there and then, but rather take your time. There are factors to consider other than just a pretty home. Look at its location: its proximity to schools, shops, hospitals and your place of work. These are all important aspects to consider. Don’t forget to ask about the future plans for surrounding areas and any vacant land around you.
A home may look gorgeous from the outside and even on the inside, but this may not always be the case for what is behind the scenes. Check for leaks, mould and animal smells. Check that taps work, toilets flush and that the water pressure is strong. Look at all fixed electrical appliances like the oven and lighting, to ensure that all are in working order. Ask questions about the history of the home – how old it is and any issues that they may have had. If preferable, try and visit the home for a second time on a rainy day – that way, you will be able to see if there are any leaks coming through the ceiling. You can check that the ceiling has been properly waterproofed, by looking at the outside of the home to see if the plastic is visible from under the tiles.
Make sure you do a thorough check of everything in the home so that you are fully aware of what you are getting yourself into and any issues there may be.
Hire a professional home inspector to look at the house. They will be able to advise you on any issues, such as building faults, electrical faults, and other serious issues. Ask them lots of questions so that you can get the answers that you need. If something seems off and the inspector is not happy with the home, rather walk away and look for something better. This is generally a life-long decision and one that should not be entered into lightly.
Your estate agent can do this on your behalf but is less likely to push for the lowest price as it is their commission at the end of the day that they lose out on. Try deal directly with the owner where possible and discuss pricing options with them to see what they are happy with. Look at what you can afford in terms of repayments and don’t go higher than this. Just because the bank offers you a higher bond, doesn’t necessarily mean that you can financially afford the repayments on this bond. If your offer is turned down, then look for something else more affordable. Don’t be pressured into a deal that you are not 100% comfotable with.
Are you happy to get your hands dirty and do some work in the garden and around the house? If so, then go for a home with a big garden that requires hard work and a home that maybe needs a little extra TLC. If not, and time is limited, you may want to look at a home with a low-maintenance garden – the smaller the better and one that doesn’t need a lot of work to get it looking tip-top. At the end of the day, it all depends on your budget, what you are looking for and what you can afford to invest, timewise.
The bank that you currently bank with, would be your first best bet to apply for the loan. If and when they approve you, you can then take their offer and interest rate to other banks and see if you can get a better deal. Shop around and do some bargaining before settling for the first offer. You may be able to reduce your interest rate by a percent or two, which will help enormously in the long run.
You may be dying to own your first home and to move in, but don’t rush it. Finding the perfect place usually takes between 6 – 12 months, so don’t be in a hurry. Look around at options, visit showhouses and keep your eye on property websites. The perfect place will be there if you take your time to look around properly.
Purchasing your first home is an amazing experience and one that should bring excitement and joy. Doing your homework before will help to prevent any bad experiences and make you a lot more aware of what to expect upfront.
Once you have made the decision on your home and chosen the perfect home for you and your family, chat to one of our qualified consultants about the right insurance for your new home and how you can stay covered.