Monday, 6 February 2017

Buying Your First House - Advice From First Time Buyers!

I've been planning this post for a while, we moved into our house in May 2015, so a little while ago now, but that time has given me the chance to re-read and re-consider and re-write this advice - and now I feel i've got it down.

1) I advise to get an adviser

We were very lucky when buying our first home together that a family friend who is a great financial adviser offered us her help, she was patient at explaining things we just didn't understand, sorted out all the red tape and paperwork for us and helped us plan and budget properly - I realise we were very lucky in this and most first time buyers may not have the luxury of hiring a mortgage or financial adviser but if you get a chance or you can set some of your budget aside I would highly highly recommend having that professional help!

2) Pre-Plan

When you are applying for a mortgage you will have to be so open and honest about all of your finances, incomings and outgoings, little sneaky shopping sprees and exactly how much you spend at Starbucks - I knew this would happen, but I was still shocked when it did. I love to shop, I don't earn much, I LOVE clothes and good food, I'm crap at saving - these things do not a pretty bank statement make!

When you decide to start looking for a house, remember that most mortgage lenders will want to see at least your last three months bank statements - so try and be careful! Check your credit score and try and improve it if you can. If you've never had a credit card or any credit to speak of  - get some! This might seem counter-intuitive but taking out credit and paying it back is exactly what improves your credit score and what lenders will want to see!

Try and spend as little as possible for at least three months on silly things, you don't want your statements to show payday then a whole list of bars and clubs - lenders want to see where your money goes and if you are likely to be able to afford mortgage payments - show them you can!

3) Don't Settle Petal!

This is likely one of the biggest, scariest decisions/ commitments you'll ever make, but don't let that make you try to 'get it out of the way'. If you know what you want, or better yet what you don't want then don't settle for something that doesn't match up, unless the compromise is really worth it.

For example, I knew I wanted a house; not a bungalow, not an apartment and not a cottage. Two floors for me please. I knew I wanted it to be in Bangor, but was open to compromise if the house was bigger but further from the town centre - and that's what we ended up with! I can't walk into town, we are really on the town limits, but that means it a fairly quiet area, a new house and HORSES IN THE FIELDS AROUND US.

We also decided to spend extra to get the 'end' house. There were three of our house types available, one mid-terrace, and two end terrace, and I think we picked the perfect one.

The mid-terrace house would have meant a few grand less but I am SO GLAD we went for the end one, don't get me wrong, the mid house is the same size and quality and still a lovely house, plus there is basically no 'neighbor-noise' in these new builds, but as an 'end' we have wide open space at one side of the house, slightly bigger gardens, a window in the downstairs loo and the upstairs landing and easier access to the back garden - plus ... did I mention the horses?! We didn't see upstairs in our house until it was completed, but as soon as I went up and looked out the front windows I realised we were looking between the houses across the road and straight into the big field of the stables beside the development! #WIN 

4) Don't Bite Off (Too Much) More Than You Can Chew

Think about what renovations you can afford and when you might be able to afford them, we knew that cash and free time wise we were poor, it would take us a looooong time (longer than I would have liked) to 'do up' a house. We didn't plan on a new build, but it made sense for us at this stage of our lives.

I've had friends who've bought 'do-er uppers' and have 'done them up' beautifully, but with all the stress, mess, money and time that goes with it. 

If you use a financial adviser (which I seriously recommend) they will help you figure out a budget and what you can actually realistically afford. You can't depend on that possible promotion or pay bump. Don't assume you'll 'make it work'. Make sure you can commit to the cost before you take the plunge!

That's it!

Hopefully this advice is helpful to those of you who were in the same position we were 2 years ago... like wtf where do we even start? Are we doing the right thing??! - All you can do is what feels right for you.

If you're looking for your first home now - I wish you all the luck in the world, and hope you are so happy in your new home!

If you're not - then hopefully you can either heed my advice for the future! or...

If you've already taken the plunge and are home owners then hopefully you agree with some of my advice, and perhaps have some of your own to share? Feel free to add your advice in the comments!

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