Questions all first-time buyers should ask
Making your first step onto the property ladder can be daunting, if you don’t know what to expect, what to look out for, or what questions to ask. To give you a little helping hand, we’ve outlined exactly what first-time buyers need to know when coming across a property they love.
Can I afford the property?
Purchasing property for the first time is an exciting experience, but it’s important to keep a level head while house hunting; one of the main things first-time buyers need to know when entering the property market is what their budget is and what they can reasonably afford. Consider:
- How much deposit you can afford
- What mortgage payments you can reasonable make
- Any additional financial commitments you have that might make mortgage payments difficult
Failing to pay your mortgage can have considerable consequences; continually missing or making late payments can even lead to the authorities repossessing your home. With this in mind, it’s crucial to think about your finances before committing to such a big purchase.
What is a house survey?
A house survey is a little bit like a health check for your potential new home; it covers the property’s condition and picks out potential areas of concern. This is a detailed inspection, that should answer many of your first-time buyer questions about the structural integrity and repair work required.
How do I arrange a house survey?
A property survey is a crucial step to take before buying your new home, so it’s important to enlist expert help. It can be helpful to pick an independent and local professional, rather than a huge company, to get a more personal service. Your surveyor should also be accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), to guarantee the very best standard.
What should I do if the property needs work?
The purpose of a survey is to uncover any potential problems with a property, before you commit to buying it. If there are issues raised, you are left with three options. You can either:
- Pull out of the agreement entirely. Because you’ve conducted the survey before the exchange of contracts and completion, you aren’t legally committed to continue.
- Request the seller to remedy the problems.
- Ask the seller to lower their price; you will have to spend money fixing each concern, so it’s only reasonable that this should be deducted from your offer.
What is the area around the property like?
While it’s important for a property to tick all your boxes, you should also consider the surrounding area and where you’ll be living. In fact, this should be among your earliest first-time buyer questions to ask when viewing. For instance:
- Who are the neighbours? Are they students, young professionals, families, or retirees?
- How does the property asking price compare to similar homes that have sold nearby? Is it reflective of the local market?
- If you have children, what are the schools like?
- If you don’t drive, what are the transport links like?
Having an appreciation for the area you live makes it much easier to settle down and put down roots, if you intend to live in your first home for a while. However, it can also prove to be financially beneficial in the long run: finding property in an up-and-coming area for a good price can be a great investment, and you may begin to see significant growth in value over just a few years.
Is the property a freehold or leasehold?
One of the most important things first-time buyers need to know is the difference between leasehold and freehold property: when you buy a freehold property, you own both the building and the land it resides on. In contrast, owning a leasehold means you only have a claim to the building for as long as the lease lasts – and you’ll probably have to pay ground and service charges too!
It can be more difficult to undertake substantial building work and renovations on a leasehold property than a freehold; you are required to get written permission from the freeholder on each occasion, with evidence that you are improving the building and adding to its value. To avoid hassle, if you intend to tackle a property project, you might be better off targeting freeholds sales.
Why has the current owner put their home on the market?
Understanding a seller’s motivation can strengthen your position as a buyer. As such, one of the most valuable first-time buyer questions to ask when viewing is the reason for the sale.
Are they looking for a quick house sale?
If a property owner is hoping for a speedy sale, they’re more likely to accept an offer that’s a little below market value; they might not be able to afford to leave their home on the market for months on end.
As a first-time buyer, you’re in a unique position to make an offer without the baggage of a complicated property chain that can come from buying and selling at the same time; this could just help you buy your dream property at a discount.
How long has the property been on the market?
Knowing how long a property has been on the market can give you a good indication of both its popularity and whether it’s fairly valued. If a house has struggled to attract interest, you should begin to question why.
If the home has been on the market for a considerable amount of time, it’s completely reasonable to try to negotiate a lower asking price – the chances are it might not have sold because of an unrealistic valuation.
What is included in the house sale?
Before you commit to buying a property, it’s important that you know what exactly is included in your purchase; as a first-time buyer, this is likely going to be your first seriously significant expense, so you need to be certain. In the early stages of a house deal, make sure to ask for an inventory that outlines whether white goods and furniture are included, for instance. If not, you can amend your budget accordingly.
Hopefully, we’ve managed to answer some of your first-time buyer questions, as you make the exciting first steps into the world of home ownership. For even more expert guidance and advice, get in touch with our team or head on over to our blog.