First time buyer guide
Buying your first home? We know this can appear complicated, which is why we’re here to help every step of the way. Our friendly Sales Executives will be there to support you in your home buying journey from the first viewing to your moving day and beyond.
We’ve put together this guide for first-time home buyers, to give you a clear overview of some of the most important things to consider when buying your first house. We’ve also provided helpful links to more in-depth articles about every step of your home buying journey. We know that it can seem daunting at first glance, which is why we’ve broken it down into these clear, simple sections.
Why buy your first home
Getting on the property ladder is a big step and a huge achievement. In the long term, owning your own house or flat will almost always work out more cost-effective than renting a property, but you need to be sure that buying is financially viable. The first step for first-time buyers is assessing your finances – think about where you want to buy and how much you want to pay, how much deposit you can afford to put down, and how much you need to borrow as a result of this.
You may also want to consider the benefits of buying a brand new home. This simplifies the process, as there is no chain and nobody waiting to move out. New homes are also a blank canvas ready to make your own without the expense of renovations and their energy-saving technology is not only good news for your carbon footprint, it’s great for your pocket too. Read more about why to buy a new home here.
The process of buying your first home
Once you know what kind of deposit you have, you can get your home buying process started. While this may seem daunting, our quick and simple guide will help navigate you through this process:
- Figure out what you can afford – use your deposit and income to work out what lenders are likely to let you borrow, which should give you a good idea of your price range
- Find your dream home – once you have that all-important budget, search the areas you’re interested in for your dream home that fits the bill for you and your family
- Get a mortgage – high street banks, building societies, independent financial advisors and mortgage brokers can provide you with the best deals for a mortgage loan, so shop around and find the best one for you
- Find a solicitor – you will need one to carry out the valuation, other legal searches, house documentation, and final transaction. Your chosen lender may have a specific list of trusted solicitors they work with or recommend.
- Exchange contracts – your mortgage provider and solicitor will handle all the details of your purchase, which will eventually lead to the exchanging of contracts to finalise your house buying
- Move in – this is the exciting bit, when several months of hard work finally pay off and you receive the keys to your brand new property
For more information about the home buying process, take a look through our detailed guide.
First-time home buying costs
We’ve already mentioned your deposit, but there are a few other costs* to consider as a first-time buyer. We’ve detailed them below, so that there are no hidden surprises along the way.
Deposit – the more money you can afford to put down as a deposit the better, as this will reduce the amount you have to borrow, the interest you have to pay on your mortgage loan, and even the length of your mortgage term
Stamp duty – First-time buyers can expect no stamp duty on the first £300,000 spent on a property. And, in Scotland there is zero Land and Buildings Transaction Tax for first-time buyers on any home that costs up to £175,000.
Valuation fee – the fee you pay your lender so they can value the home and make sure you’re paying around the right amount for it, which typically costs £150-£200
Transfer fee – this covers the transfer of funds between lender and solicitor and usually costs between £40-£50
Solicitor fee – your solicitors will deal with the legal process of you buying your home and costs vary from £500 to £1,500, so it’s always worth shopping around
Home insurance – you need to make sure your home is insured from the date you’re due to complete your home purchase and there are lots of websites to help you find the best deal
Removal fees – removal companies can charge anything from £500 to £2,000, unless you have a van and willing friends and family to help you out!
These are the main costs involved in buying your first home. For a more detailed summary, click here.
*All the costs mentioned are for illustrated purposes and can vary, please speak to an Independent Financial Advisor if you require financial advice.
First-time buyers Help to Buy schemes
For several years now, the government-backed Help to Buy scheme has helped many first-time buyers move into their first homes. While the initial Help to Buy ISA scheme closed to new applicants in November 2019, there are two other options available to prospective first-time buyers:
Home Reach: Shared Ownership – this scheme is designed for those who can’t yet afford the mortgage for 100% of their home, instead allowing first-time buyers to buy a share of a home (between 25% and 75%) and pay rent on the remaining share, with the option to buy a bigger share of the home further down the line when it becomes affordable
Help to Buy: Equity Loan – available from 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2023, the government will provide up to 20% loans for first-time buyers to help them get on the property ladder, which are interest-free for the first 5 years
The legal bits
Now you know about the process, costs and how the Help to Buy scheme can benefit you, we thought we’d explain some of the legal terms you'll be hearing a lot throughout the process of buying your first home. Don’t worry though, your solicitors are experts at home buying, so they’ll be able to explain everything to you in more detail.
The legal transferring of the home’s ownership from us, or the previous owners, to you.
The checks that your mortgage provider needs to make sure the property is worth lending against.
Not to be confused with completion, this is when you enter into a legally-binding contract to buy your first home.
This is when everything is tied up and completed. The deposit is transferred, the ownership moves to you and you get your keys.
Moving into your first home
Now all of the processes, costs and legal details are finalised, you can finally start looking forward to taking the next exciting step and owning your first home! But before you settle down in your new home and put the kettle on, there are a few considerations you need to take into account for the big moving day.
- Plan everything – leave nothing to chance and make sure you have a robust plan in place for moving day
- Tell everyone – make a list of all of your bills, subscriptions, online accounts, family and friends that you need to make aware of your change of address
- Organise the move – are you hiring a removals company or roping in friends and family?
- Sort through your old belongings – to make the packing and unpacking easier, only take what you actually need, as you’ll surely acquire plenty more new stuff for your first home
- Pack well in advance – this goes without saying, but pack and label everything logically and with plenty of time to spare
- Stay calm on moving day – this can be a long, stressful day but relax and don’t overdo it
Enjoy your new home – put the kettle on, put your feet up and enjoy your first home!
For more details and tips about moving day, check out our in-depth guide. And, with that, all that's left to say is good luck with buying your first home!