Especially for First Time Buyers, we have compiled the most important information and tools you need when embarking on the property ladder.

With regards to Covid-19, current guidance states that people who wish to move home can do so as long as all safety measures are followed. Estate agents are able to visit homes in order to take photos and videos, prospective buyers are able to view properties and arrange removals. The best estate agents, conveyancers and other professionals will have modified how they work to accommodate the rules to accommodate the pandemic.

Paramount though, is the safety and wellbeing of everyone involved. Although there is currently more freedom to move home, public health and Government guidance must always come first. Social distancing measures must be observed and any physical appointments should be postponed immediately if anyone is self-isolating or showing symptoms of coronavirus.

Am I A First Time Buyer?

A first time buyer is a person who has never owned a home or had a mortgage in their name at any point previously. However, whether or not you qualify as a first time buyer is a bit more complicated than that. Different lenders have different guidelines as to who qualifies whilst the Government has its own rules as to who receives the stamp duty exemptions associated with being first time buyers.

If you think you fit into this grey area and aren’t sure whether you are classed as a first time buyer or not, we will explain who exactly qualifies. Then you can take a look through the information we have compiled to help you make your first property purchase.

Who Qualifies For First Time Buyer Status?

Being a first time buyer is a very desirable status to have in the property world. This is because first-time buyers have no chain and their position is usually less complicated than those who do. It can take away a lot of the stress of buying/selling property. Here are the ways in which you can qualify for first time buyer status:

  • If you are a single person who has never owned a home before (this includes in any other country), you will be regarded as a first-time buyer. The same applies if you are a couple wanting to buy a house and NEITHER of you have ever previously bought a home.
  • If you have owned a commercial property before but not a dwelling you qualify as being a first time buyer. This is confusing as technically you own/have owned a property in theory. However, the rules about first time buyers surround property that are used as homes. So if you own a commercial property such as a shop/salon/office etc, you are still a first time buyer.

Be aware though, if the commercial property you own, or have owned, has living quarters attached/included in the building, you are NOT a first time buyer.

Who Is Not A First Time Buyer?

  • If you own or have owned property (a dwelling/home) that you inherited, you are not a first time buyer. The rules involve who has owned property, not bought property.
  • The same applies if you own a home that has been given to you as a gift. Some people are given houses by kind relatives; these people are no longer first time buyers.
  • If you are part of a couple who want to buy a house and one of you falls into either of the two categories above, you will not qualify as first time buyers on your purchase.
  • If you have never owned a home and plan to buy one as a landlord (ie: buy-to-let) then you are unable to take advantage of the Government’s stamp duty exemption rules.

Estate Agents

When you decide the time is right to make the first move, you will invariably browse online property estate agents portals like rightmove and zoopla for local properties. As well as doing this We suggest you register your interest with several local estate agents. Agents work for sellers so choosing an estate agent isn’t something you have to worry about as you have no control over which one has your preferred property. The best thing to do is to approach several of the best estate agents in the area telling them exactly what you are after, your budget and they might even have some properties right up your street coming to market in the near future. Don’t forget to take a look at the online estate agents too.

The best estate agents will help guide you through the process, arrange viewings, establish your affordability etc.

Budgeting

Before you go house hunting, it is essential to know how much you can spend before you get carried away. Arrange an appointment with a mortgage adviser who has access to the whole mortgage market. Initially this should not cost you anything and will provide you with how much you can afford as well as a useful insight into the process and requirements of obtaining and repaying a mortgage.

There are various types of mortgages available and your adviser will discuss the differences between them and, by taking various details from you, will be able to help find the right type of mortgage for you.

Furthermore, the running a home is expensive and it’s easy to overlook something. These are some costs to be mindful of.

  • Deposit
  • Monthly mortgage payments
  • Survey costs
  • Conveyancing fee
  • Removal costs
  • Building and contents insurance
  • Furnishing and decorating costs
  • Mortgage arrangement and valuation fees
  • Stamp Duty (Land and buildings Transaction Tax in Scotland/Land Transaction Tax in Wales).

The most important part of purchasing a home is making sure you can afford all your costs and repayments. It is essential that you put together a budget and assess the affordability before you start looking for a property and applying for mortgages.

House Viewing

Buying your first home is exciting but can feel daunting; it is a huge purchase to make. It makes sense to take your time and get it right. The best estate agents, conveyancers and other professionals will have modified how they work to accommodate the rules surrounding the pandemic.

Here are a few things to bear in mind.

Budget

It is always tempting to look at houses you might not be able to afford… just in case. However, it is very important that you don’t overestimate your affordability or you could lose your home due to not being able to keep up with the repayments.

Finance

Once you have budgeted, organise your finances and apply for a mortgage in principal. Shop around for the best deals and make sure you have a good credit rating.

Location

Do you know what area you want to buy in? Town or rural, new build or victorian semi? Location is everything. If you are not that familiar with the area you are moving to check out transport links, schools, shops and of course, pubs!

Keep An Open Mind

Don’t write off potential homes on first glance or you might miss out on what turns out to be your dream home. Maybe it has peeling paint and an overgrown garden. But just think about how it will look with your belongings and new decor.

Ask Questions

Is there a service charge? What is parking like? How old is the boiler? What are the neighbours like? Why are you moving? How often is the rubbish collected? Is it a high speed broadband area? Make a list even as you are bound to forget something.

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