Buying your first home is a daunting but exciting step. When you rent, you are at the mercy of your landlord and never quite know how long you will be able to stay. You have to conform to restrictions with décor and, in many cases, have to use someone else’s furniture, so the place never quite feels like your own. When buying, however, the property is yours to do as you please.
Whether you want to paint the walls purple with orange spots or build a den under your stairs, the opportunities are endless. Before you take the plunge, there are some things to be aware of and some things you will want to think about in advance of securing your home. Here are 5 things to plan and consider when buying your first home.
How much can you borrow
One of the first things you need to find out when looking to buy your first property is how much you can borrow. All lenders have different criteria, but they will usually calculate lending amounts based on income multipliers. Your borrowing power primarily depends on your earnings, but lenders will also take into account any deposit you may have as well as your dependents and how long you have been in your current job. They will then provide you with an offer of loan that will, in turn, allow you to calculate how much your maximum spend should be in terms of the property purchase price.
You must bear in mind that there will be other costs associated with your purchase, such as recording dues relating to the transfer of title, mortgage arrangement fees, and legal fees relating to the purchase. Many lenders will allow you to add some of these costs to your borrowing, but if you can pay them upfront, it’s wise to do so.
You may have been offered a certain amount of borrowing in terms of your mortgage but you need to figure out what you can realistically afford to spend month to month. Mortgage rates vary, so it’s a good idea to shop around for the best deals. Once you have agreed on a mortgage product, you can calculate the approximate monthly payments.
On top of this, you will need to take into consideration various other household expenses such as buildings and contents insurance, utility bills, food, and general household maintenance. Owning a home can be costly, so you must make sure it’s affordable before going ahead. It’s also a good idea to put aside a contingency fund, so you have a sum of money set aside should anything more costly occur. If, for example, your boiler breaks down or your roof starts leaking, it’s no longer your landlord’s responsibility – it is yours, so plan for it, and it will be a welcomed relief should any nasty surprises occur further down the line.
New or old?
You may not have considered this to be a factor, but whether you buy new or old should be pondered over for some time. Both have pros and cons, so it’s pretty much a case of weighing up what’s important to you.
Many people prefer older style properties because the rooms are typically larger, there is usually more garden ground, and they generally have a bit more character. On the other hand, they don’t retain heat to the same degree and can therefore be way more costly in terms of heating bills. They are also more prone to ongoing maintenance issues, so it’s something you need to think about.
New build properties are usually well insulated, and so can prove cheaper to run. New homes will typically also be built with far more environmentally friendly products than those constructed many decades ago.
Many builders such as Landsea Homes, for example, will allow you to become involved in many elements of the design process. You can choose from a range of internal upgrades, pick your favorite kitchen cabinets, or even play around with the floor plan to ensure that the home fulfills every one of your needs, so buying new certainly has many advantages.
Location, location, location
Many people will say that location is the most important thing when looking for a home. You may like the look of a house from the outside, but if it’s not in a very great part of town, you need to make sure that you feel ok with that. If you live on your own, it becomes an even bigger factor so do some research into the area before making any decisions.
It’s worthwhile viewing a property in the day as well as at night. What may seem like a peaceful neighborhood on a sunny Wednesday afternoon may become a loud and unwelcoming place come Saturday night, so don’t make any decisions until you can see the bigger picture.
If you have kids, find out which schools fall within the catchment area and check their performance online. Talk to other parents and, if needs be, visit the school and talk to the teachers. Your child’s education will no doubt be a top priority, so it’s important to know that the school can deliver.
Furnishing your home
As we touched on earlier, buying and running a new home can be costly. You may have detailed images of how you want your home to look inside, but you have to be realistic. Unless you have wads of excess cash lying around, it could take time to get the design elements of your home exactly how you want them to be. In the meantime, consider buying second-hand furniture or borrowing from family and friends.
Upcycling has never been easier, so you may be able to find some pieces you love for a fraction of the price of buying new and create some eye-catching items for your home. It might take a bit of time to make your house a home, but with some creativity and a bit of patience, you will get there.