I think it’s fair to say that, for most of us, one of the Life Musts on our to do list is getting on the property ladder – actually owning it rather than just living in it and paying rent every month, watching that money drift out of your account into nothingness with no financial payback in the terms of gaining equity.
I’ve been renting for several years now and OUCH; when I think about how much money I’ve spent it’s actually quite frightening. (I’ve just worked it out and it’s over £22,000 to date. Yikes!)
However, in this day and age, getting on the property ladder is hard work… but don’t let it daunt you. Open a high interest bank account, save whatever you can a month (any amount, no matter how little, is a step in the right direction) and be strict: don’t allow yourself to dip into the funds! Check out my previous post on saving for your own home.
Saving money is the hardest bit but once you’ve done that, the search can begin and you can start looking for your perfect place. Having 10 years of experience in estate agency, I thought I’d share some of my tips and put together a little guide of things you need to know to get on the property ladder. Hopefully this will give you a little extra confidence when it comes to taking the plunge and diving into the property market!
Do your research
First things first: you need to see what the market is like. As I’m sure you all know, there are good times to buy and there are bad times to buy, so have a look around, speak to estate agents and work out what status the market is currently at. Is it a good time to sell, or a good time to buy? Are there lots of properties on the market or is it quiet? With this additional knowledge under your belt, you’ll be better placed to make decisions.
What’s your budget?
Yawn. All this grown up stuff can be a little tedious but it’s perhaps the most important part of the whole process. You need to sit down and write out all your finances; work out your income against expenditure and how much you can realistically afford to pay on a mortgage. (If you need help, there are lots of Financial Advisors out there who can give you a helping hand, but my advice is to always go to an Independent Financial Advisor as they won’t be linked to any lenders or receiving commission for selling certain deals). Once you know how much you can afford, it will also give you more of an idea what sort of area you can live in, what size house etc. There’s no point looking for a 5-bedroom detached if you only have the budget for a 2-bedroom flat.
Understand the process
There’s no shame in not knowing how the process of buying a property works – if it’s your first time you’re not expected to know all the ins and outs, but your estate agent and Financial Advisors will be more than happy to help you along the way. You need to be aware of the legalities involved, the step-by-step journey from viewing the house to moving in, and you need to be aware of the costs involved. It’s not just the price of the house you need to take into account, but all the other things like solicitors fees, surveys, Stamp Duty, and removals – you don’t want to find yourself in money trouble the minute you move in.
Hopefully these tips will be of some help to you, but my best advice would be to take your time. Don’t rush. Get all your facts together, work out your plan of action and stick to it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and, most importantly, enjoy it. It’s a stressful time but it’s also pretty magical buying your first home and you want to look back on it with happy memories!
Are you saving for a home at the moment? Do you have any other tips you think people should know?
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