At the age of 25 in the current economic climate, I feel incredibly lucky to be a homeowner. It has become increasingly difficult to get on the property ladder so it took a lot of hard work to get to where we are now. At first, we were completely clueless about the whole process and how to get started, so I hope that by creating this post I can help you to take your first steps and start an exciting new chapter in your life.
Saving for your deposit is the hardest part of the entire process, sacrifices will have to be made but it’s so worth it in the end.
Budgeting is key! Start out by planning ways to cut down on spending such as preparing packed lunches for work rather than eating out or limiting yourself to a set budget for weekly food shops. With this in mind, never go food shopping hungry, because sure enough half of the snack aisle will sneak its way into your trolley.
I had a little black book and noted down absolutely everything I was spending each week which was a great way to evaluate my compulsive spending habits and reign it in.
You may have to work extra shifts, postpone your holiday and wear the same outfit on every night out for the foreseeable future but just remember that renting a property is dead money. Why pay off someone else’s mortgage when you can buy your dream home?
Choosing your Forever Home
Before you book any viewings it is worth making a checklist of everything that you hope for; the number of bedrooms, parking, ensuites, loft conversions – there are so many factors to consider before you decide upon your dream home.
Here’s a top tip for you, south facing gardens are where the sunshine is at! Satellite dishes on the back of the house are a key indicator that your garden will be a suntrap so keep an eye out.
When we first looked around our home there were a few eyesores that could have swayed our decision. In fact, here is a room that we are yet to decorate that is the stuff of nightmares! Every inch of the space including the boiler cupboard and radiator is painted dark blue, I am actually scared to set foot in there because of how dark and bleak it looks.
Even though this room is frankly awful, I looked passed the decor and realised its huge potential. I think this is a crucial part of the decision making process because the previous owner’s taste will rarely match yours.The most important thing when you are viewing properties is to think imaginatively about what you can do with the space.
Once you have got your heart set on a house within your budget it’s time to make an offer. This can be a little tricky because you don’t have to match the full asking price but you don’t want to make an offer that’s insulting either. To help us make our decision we did some research online of the market value of other properties on the street. Make sure you tell the current owners that you are first time buyers and have no chain because this could work in your favour.
When your offer is accepted it’s time to get the ball rolling. Now I don’t want to bore you with every single detail because buying our house was a very lengthy and at times stressful process so here is a breakdown of everything we went through. This process is different for everyone but hopefully I can give you a rough idea of what to expect:
- Before you make an offer on a property you will need an agreement in principle from a bank or building society. This shows the estate agents that you are eligible to make the purchase.
- Sign up for a mortgage – my other half is a mathematical genius and computer whiz so he set up a spreadsheet comparing each product to help us make our choice. If you need an extra helping hand you might want to appoint a mortgage adviser to assist you.
- Arrange a valuation/ survey through your mortgage provider. This will determine if the property is in good shape and worth the asking price. You may be able to renegotiate your offer based on the results of the survey.
- When your mortgage has been accepted select a solicitor to deal with proceedings (check that they have good reviews because you will be relying on them to make things run smoothly). Notify the Estate Agents about your solicitors and ask them to send over any relevant paperwork.
- If you have a Help to Buy ISA keep this running for as long as you can, but once you’re ready give the ‘closing statement’ from your bank to your solicitors. All of your ISA savings will be moved into your current account and the solicitors will apply for the government bonus just before the purchase of the property goes through. Normally the government bonus will go towards your solicitors fees/ deposit.
- Once your solicitors have completed all of their checks and asked for your deposit payment it’s time to sign and exchange contracts. A completion date will also be decided at this stage.
- On the completion date the estate agents will notify you when the current owners have vacated the property, once they have you can collect the keys.
After the back breaking moving day all that’s left to do is pop open a bottle of champagne and let it sink in that you own a flipping house! This realisation still fills me with butterflies three months on and I tell you what it feels so good to put up a shelf and splash paint all over the walls without feeling guilty. Goodbye magnolia rentals, hello home sweet home!