Our Essential Tips for First Time Buyers in the UK

Published: 17/10/2023

Essential Steps for a First-Time Buyer in the UK

We get it, buying your first home in the UK can be quite overwhelming, especially when the news/media outlets are reporting doom and gloom every day, which can sometimes take away from the excitement of such a big milestone in your life. To help make your journey smoother and hopefully more exciting, we've compiled a comprehensive guide outlining the essential steps for first-time buyers in the UK, to get you ahead of the game.

Establish Your Budget
Whilst arguably one of the most exciting parts of buying your first home is property hunting, it's crucial to understand where you can set the ‘max price’ filter on Rightmove. Consider your savings, your credit score, and your monthly income. Whilst online mortgage calculators can be handy, they only determine a rough ball-park figure, so the best way to find out your exact price is to get an appointment with a mortgage broker, like Norfolk Mortgages, who are “whole of market’’ meaning they don’t just get access to a few lenders like high street banks do, they can find you the best deal and ensure you that you’re getting as much for your money as possible. Don’t forget, some lenders have incentives for first time buyers, such as free solicitors, free surveys or even gift card incentives etc. Remember that in the UK, the typical down payment is around 5% to 20% of the property's value, with the remaining amount covered by a mortgage.

Improve Your Credit Score
A good credit score is vital in securing a mortgage with favourable terms. Make sure your credit report is accurate, pay off any outstanding debts, and avoid any late payments. A higher credit score will not only help you qualify for a mortgage but also secure a better interest rate. Don’t forget, keep big purchases and credit cards until after completion, even if you’ve applied for a mortgage, they can still affect your rate whilst going through the purchase.

Know your Options
Saving early and consistently is essential, the size of your deposit determines a lot of things such as repayment charges & length, and also what other options you can explore. Alongside the standard purchase route, you also have government schemes like the Help to Buy ISAs or Lifetime ISAs that can assist first-time buyers in accumulating funds, as well as Rent to Buy and interest-only/100% mortgages. 

Research the Property Market
Knowing what your non-compromisables are before searching the market will save you tons of time. Identify the type of property you want, its location and also how long you will want to be there (if you’re looking for a place to start a family, a small 2-bed with no garden and no close schools potentially isn’t for you). Online property portals, registering with local estate agents, and property magazines can be great resources for staying up-to-date.

Get a Mortgage Agreement in Principle
Obtaining a Mortgage Agreement in Principle (AIP) is an essential step. It indicates how much a lender is willing to lend you based on your financial situation. This can be crucial when making an offer on a property as it shows sellers you are a serious buyer.

Make an Offer and Negotiate
Once you find a property that fits your budget and preferences, make an offer through the estate agent. It's not uncommon for sellers to negotiate on the price, so be prepared to engage in this process but know your limits, there’s no point paying over what you can afford.

Appoint a Solicitor
You'll need a solicitor to handle the legal aspects of the property purchase, such as conveyancing and ensuring there are no legal issues with the property. Choose a solicitor experienced in property transactions and get a clear breakdown of their fees, we work with recommended local solicitors that we trust, which make it really easy to keep everything under one roof.

Get a Home Survey
A home survey is crucial to identify any potential issues with the property. There are different levels of surveys available, so consult with your solicitor and choose the one that suits your needs.

Complete the Mortgage Application
Once your offer is accepted, complete the mortgage application with the assistance of your mortgage advisor. They will guide you through the paperwork and requirements set by the lender.

Exchange Contracts and Complete
Once all the necessary checks are complete, you can exchange contracts with the seller. At this point, the transaction becomes legally binding. After that, the completion date is set, and you can finally get the keys to your new home. You can finally look forward to decorating and making your first home truly special.

There’s no doubt that sometimes the purchasing process can be tricky, but we have teams at every stage of the way helping you to navigate your way to your very own home. If we happen to be selling your perfect home, give us a call to start your journey, keeping everything all under one roof.

Find your best deal through Norfolk Mortgages today: https://norfolk-mortgages.co.uk/