The Most Common First-timer Questions

Added on July 11th 2017

Looking for and buying your first home is amazingly exciting, but it can also be scary. Am I doing the right thing? What’s taking so long? What if the survey shows an abandoned mine under the kitchen…? Most sales go through OK and once you’ve bought and sold a couple of times you’ll take it all in your stride. However, to reach veteran status, you have to make that all-important first purchase, so here’s what to ask to make it a bit less daunting.

How much should I borrow?

Be strict with yourself here, talk to as many people – banks, brokers, relatives, independent financial advisers – as you can, make a realistic figure and stick to it! Once you know you have a mortgage amount agreed in principle, work from there to find properties within your range.

However, you mustn’t fixate on the mortgage itself, there may be additional fees – housing association, landscaping or gardening and so on – so don’t forget to factor these in as well.

Is this a long-term deal?

Are you going to be happy there for a while? Make sure you’re not bending over too far backwards to get on the ladder. If that cheap flat means an extra two hours to get to work, or you’ll miss your family, then give it a swerve.

Why are the vendors selling?

Usually people are selling for “good” reasons – an overseas job offer, downsizing, moving to be near the grandchildren – but occasionally there may be reasons that could prove off-putting (think neighbours from hell). If there’s a good reason and the clock is ticking, then it’s worth making a lower offer.

What exactly am I buying?

Well, a home, obviously! Seriously, though, you need to ask if you get the shed, the cherry tree, the curtains and even if some pieces of furniture are available. You also need to see the deeds so you know how much garden you have.

How often has the property sold in recent years?

If the house has changed hands a few times in the last decade, there may be a problem with it. Of course, it may have been due to a series of investors, or academics (if you’re in a university city), or just coincidence, but you need to find out for your own peace of mind.

How much is the council tax?

This is another item to add to your ongoing budget. It’s a reoccurring expense so if you’re moving into an area with a higher rate than you’re used to, you’ll need to take it into account. It could also be lower, which is always a bonus!

Have there been any neighbour disputes?

You need to know if the vendor has ever lodged a complaint against a neighbour and if that neighbour is still there. Legally, they have to tell you, so don’t be shy.

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