Finding and securing the right home is no easy task. Anyone who’s been through it will tell you that the journey can be full of twists and turns. That being said, there is no better feeling than being handed the keys to your new home. While the process of buying a home can at times be stressful and tiresome, there are some things you can do to make things easier. Here are 10 things you should know before buying your first home.
1. Getting your finances in order means big lifestyle changes
When you’re preparing for a mortgage application, every penny you spend must be accounted for and you must prove that you’re financially responsible. This can mean making significant lifestyle changes. Lenders will scrutinise every bank statement when they’re assessing your finances.
Unfortunately, excessive spending on online retailers, using gambling apps and big bills for nights out on the town could put a lender off. You don’t want to appear to be reckless with your money. Thinking about your spending can become a bit of an obsession but it could help you on your way to securing a mortgage.
2. Sorting your credit can help
If you have any outstanding debt, even late or missed payments, this can affect your chances of getting a mortgage. Mortgage providers can be nit-picky, to say the least when it comes to credit. It can help to tidy up your credit and get on top of any outstanding payments or debts if you want to appear to be an ideal candidate.
It’s important to check for mistakes on your credit record as they can sometimes lead to rejection. An active account registered to the wrong address can affect your chances at acceptance. Thoroughly sweep your financial records for any potential mistakes.
3. It helps to be open-minded
Let’s face it, we can all be a little bit snobby every now and then, especially when it comes to where we want to live. We might overlook certain areas based on silly things. If you want to find the perfect property, try to keep an open mind and check out areas you might have previously dismissed. For all you know there’s a hidden gem waiting somewhere with your name on it. You might even get more value for money down the line while house prices continue to soar.
4. Mortgage life insurance can help protect your loved ones
If you have financial dependents or you and your partner or spouse have taken out a mortgage together, you might be concerned about what will happen should you pass away unexpectedly. Would your loved ones risk losing their home without the contribution of your paycheck? If this is the case, you might be interested to know that Mortgage Life Insurance could help to protect your loved ones from outstanding debt. Mortgage life insurance can provide a lump sum payment to help cover the remainder of your mortgage.
5. You could be eligible for financial help from the government
Did you know that first-time buyers aged 18-39 could get £1,000 per year to help with buying a property? In fact, you could get up to £32,000 if you open a new Lifetime ISA, following an initiative launched in 2017. With this scheme, it’s possible to save up to £4,000 each year into the LISA as a lump sum or by adding cash whenever you can. The state will then add a 25% bonus which can be used towards your first home or a retirement fund. It’s important to check the full details of this scheme. This is just one of the government initiatives available to first-time buyers.
The Money Advice Service provides a full list of government grants available for first-time buyers if you’re curious about what else you might be entitled to.
6. Your house should fit your lifestyle
This kind of goes without saying but if you’re not much of a people person, then a large house in the middle of a housing estate might not be for you. Likewise, you probably shouldn’t buy a small house in the countryside if you’re a sociable person who enjoys the energy of a large town or city.
Consider your commute, any activities, groups or events you would normally attend at weekends. How far are you from your close friends or relatives? Are you planning on having children? Or growing your family? These are all things you should think about when choosing a home.
7. Shop around for a mortgage lender that suits your needs
Even if you’re trying your best to get accepted for a mortgage, don’t overlook the importance of finding a lender that suits your needs. Check out rates, shop around and compare deals to find something that works for you.
8. Don’t let unsightly features put you off
We’ve all come across a gorgeous property that has that one horrific feature that puts you right off. An ugly feature can be a deal-breaker for some but sometimes it’s nothing a little imagination can’t fix. Is it something that can be fixed up, painted, replaced or demolished? Is there something you can do to make sure it fits in nicely with your desired aesthetic?
The point is, don’t get caught up in all things superficial. If you’re prepared to overlook some ugly decor choices, you could have the upper hand over less imaginative buyers.
9. Learn how to spot serious issues with the house
You can save money on surveys by spotting potential problems ahead of time. It’s important to bring along someone experienced, an expert or a clued-in friend for your second or third viewing, However, there are things you can check yourself the first time around. Let’s look at some examples of what to look out for:
Damp - look for wet or mouldy spots. Condensation on windows and peeling wallpaper can indicate damp. Use your sense of smell to sniff out any unusual musty odours.
Look up and check ceilings - keep an eye out for any strange and unusual stains, cracks, drips or dodgy leaks that could cause problems down the line.
Check wiring - this is particularly important for houses with old wiring. Ask about the age of the wiring because updating electrics could cost a fortune. Turn light switches on and off and check that the cooker is in working order. Take note of powerpoints and powerpoint locations room to room and test sockets.
Plumbing - plumbing can be old and temperamental too. Run taps, check the water pressure, flush toilets, peak underneath sinks. Make sure the water gets hot and check the heating. Just ask the seller to turn on the boiler or central heating so that you can test it out. You can also check radiators for leaks, rust and temperature.
Attic - Check the attic for rot in the wood and cracks or holes.
Some extra bits and bobs that you can check include the outside walls for cracks, mould and rotten woodwork, look for signs of break-ins around doors and windows, look at the roof, gutters, tiles and woodwork and look under mats and rugs for stains.
10. Be aware that extra costs can add up quickly
You might find that extra expenses will drive up the cost of your new home. Potential extra fees could include; mortgage arrangement fee, valuation fee, removal costs, repairs, surveys, legal fees, stamp duty, furniture and extras. Estimate in advance how much any extra costs will add up to.
Mortgage life insurance with Choozi
Want help protecting your loved ones from outstanding mortgage payments? Choozi can help you quickly and easily compare, choose and buy mortgage life insurance from leading UK insurers, all in one place. You can get a quote in minutes at Choozi.com or over the phone, without the hassle of shopping around. We’re here to help you compare leading UK life insurance brands so that you can secure the right cover at a price that works for you.
At Choozi, we’ve put together a series of articles that can help you through the process of moving home. You can find the first in the series on moving into your new home. Keep an eye out every month for new articles that can make things easier for you.