by Fran Connors
(San Diego, California, USA)
So, you’ve decided to take your first step onto that first rung of the property ladder – but what next? Buying a home is filled with legal paperwork, red tape, negotiations, endless phone calls from the estate agents, plus surveys, finding a decent deal on a mortgage and, above all, worrying about how you’re going to afford it all.
Deciding to buy your first home is a massive financial investment and probably one of the biggest financial decisions you’ll ever make. It can be a stressful experience and a drawn out one at that, but the end result – your dream home, or even just a home to call your own – will be well worth it.
First of all, decide on your budget and stick to it. Decide what you can realistically afford, taking into account solicitor and estate agent’s fees plus surveyors fees and any renovations that might need doing. Don’t dream away your money by chasing after properties that are out of your league at this stage in your life.
The next thing to do is to find a home you like; this could take a few days, a few weeks or even a few months. It really just depends on your criteria, budget and home hunting skills. Luckily, the internet has its part to play in speeding up this process. Check out sites such as findaproperty.com where they bring together the listings from various local estate agents, taking out the legwork or trawling around estate agents every weekend.
Once you’ve found your home, hire a solicitor who will be able to look after the legal side of things for you. If you decide to go ahead with the sale, you’ll need a mortgage. Speak to your bank or building society and shop around for the best deal.
Next, you’ll want to make an offer. Your estate agent can help you to negotiate, so don’t always be tempted to offer the asking price straight away, as you might be able to get a deal at a lower price. Always ask for the home to be valued and get some surveys done on the property. The most important survey is the structural survey, which will look at the structural integrity of your potential home and identify any problems.
After all the necessary checks have been carried out, your solicitor will draw up a contract which legally binds you to buying the house. You’ll have to pay a deposit and then agree a date to complete the sale, when you’ll exchange contracts and get the keys to your first home!