Buying a house is often complex and confusing, even for those who have experienced it before but if you haven't, it can be a stressful and emotionally draining experience.

Therefore, many prefer to seek the advice of a specialist mortgage broker, to guide them through the process and manage every aspect of their purchase, including liaising with lenders and solicitors alike.

First-Time Buyer Products

First-time buyer rates are not unlike rates for existing borrowers, some offering free valuation and arrangement fees, as well as help towards legal costs.

There are also schemes available to help people purchase their first home, e.g. Help To Buy and Shared Ownership, which require smaller deposits than standard mortgages.

Help To Buy schemes only require a 5% deposit and some Shared Ownership schemes require NO deposit at all.

Bearing this in mind and the current low interest rates, now may be the perfect time for people to become homeowners.

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Stages of a Property Purchase

Under normal circumstances a first property purchase should be considered as a relatively long-term project. Proper planning and research can make all the difference in being able to attain a successful outcome.

Getting Started

Before you start looking for a property, try to save a decent sized deposit. If you are able to put down a deposit of 5 percent (or more) of the purchase price, you will find that the range of mortgage options available to you is much greater (and interest rates lower) than if you need to borrow all of the money. Paying off credit card debts and reducing your regular outgoings is also good strategy, at this stage.

Calculating How Much You Can Afford

Estimate what your monthly outgoings will be after you have purchased your new property. The difference between your net income and your monthly outgoings is what you can afford as your monthly mortgage payment.

Remember, too, that you will have one-off expenses (for example, legal fees, stamp duty, cost of furnishings, etc.) to pay, before you can move into your new home.

Choosing a Property

Once you have worked out how much you can afford, decide what sort of property you are looking for and which features are essential or desirable:

First Time Buyer Mortgage Options And Making An Offer

After you have calculated exactly what you can afford and are satisfied with your mortgage options, you are in a position to make an offer for your chosen property. Clarify the position regarding which fixtures and fittings are included in the sale and decide whether you need a full survey in addition to the mortgage lender's valuation survey.

Exchange and Completion

After your offer has been accepted, your mortgage application has been approved and your solicitor has carried out all the necessary searches and other legal work, you are then in a position to exchange contracts with the vendor. On exchange of contracts, you pay a deposit (usually 10 percent of the purchase price) and agree a completion date for the purchase. At this stage, you are committed to purchase the property and will suffer financial penalties if you withdraw.

Before completion you need to arrange insurance cover, contact removal companies and make arrangements for moving furniture, etc.

At completion, your solicitor transfers the balance of the purchase price to the vendor and arranges stamp duty payments (if applicable) and ensures that all documentation regarding the transfer, for the Land Registry, has been completed.

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What First Time Buyers Sometimes Forget

Most issues associated with the purchase of a residential property are not unique to first time buyers. However, if you have never been through the property purchase process, then there is a greater possibility that something might catch you out.

Two heads are better than one

When viewing a property, take a friend or relative with you. You will have a great deal to absorb in a relatively short period of time, during a viewing, and it is easy to miss what may turn out to be critical details in the heat of the moment. Your companion may have noticed things that you did not and vice versa. If you feel that you have not taken in the whole picture regarding the property, arrange a second viewing.

Initial costs

Be sure to calculate ALL the preliminary costs associated with your property purchase. Most buyers remember to include solicitors fees, stamp duty, mortgage arrangement fees and removal costs but do not always allocate enough money to cover furnishings (and remedial building work in an older property).

Living costs

If you have been living with your parents, before moving into your own home, you might be surprised just how many bills you now have to pay and how large some of them are – council tax, water, electricity, gas, contents insurance, building insurance, etc. Council tax and water bills usually arrive at the start of the financial year and can take a big chunk out of your bank account every April, so consider arranging to pay some or all of your bills in monthly installments in order to smooth the financial load, throughout the year.

School catchment area

Whether or not you have (or are planning) to have children, remember that the quality of local state schools exerts a major influence on property prices. A house in a reputable school catchment area will always be easier to resell.

Amenities

Decide what type of amenities matter to you. Do you want to be near shops, pubs and restaurants or would closeness to a park matter more to you Buying the right property is not simply a matter of bricks and mortar.

Car considerations

The cost of your car insurance will depend very much on whether your property is classified as being in a high crime or low crime area. If you have a lock-up garage or even just off-street parking, then your car insurance premiums will be reduced.

Public transport

Being close (but perhaps not too close!) to train and underground stations or a main bus route is beneficial, especially if you commute to your place of work by public transport.

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Sharing a Property

In areas where property prices (and rents) are particularly high, an increasing number of people are joining forces with friends to purchase property instead of sharing the traditional rented house or flat.

This approach offers sharers the opportunity to get on to the property ladder, together, earlier than they would be able to individually and hence to share the benefits of any subsequent rise in property prices.

Mortgage Options

Many (but not all) financial institutions will offer mortgages for up to four people. However, they may not necessarily take all four incomes fully into account when calculating the size of the available loan. Consulting a mortgage broker might help you to identify the most suitable mortgage products for a shared purchase.

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