If you are a first time buyer, and you’ve already put the research in to work out the amount you can afford to borrow, the next step is to draw up a shortlist of properties to view. This means working out what your priorities are in terms of the size and type of property, and the location. Here are some of the most important points to consider.
First of all, it’s best to have an Agreement in Principle (AiP) (also called a Mortgage Promise or Decision in Principle) in place before you start viewing properties. This is a no-obligation indication about how much you can borrow from a lender, which gives you a better idea about what you can afford.
The estate agent may ask for an AiP before allowing you to view a property. Even if this is not the case, having one in place may mean that any potential offer you make on a property will be viewed more favourably by the estate agent or vendor, because there is evidence that you can afford it, and are a serious buyer, rather than a window shopper.
The lender will only carry out a soft credit check to draw up the AiP, and it won’t affect your credit score. It’s a good idea to contact a mortgage broker at this stage if you haven’t done so already, because they will be able to advise you on exactly what information you need, and will understand which lenders will be most appropriate for your circumstances.
The next step is to decide where you want to live. This will probably be dictated by proximity to your place of work, and what local amenities are a priority for you, such as supermarkets, restaurants, green spaces, and leisure centres. If you have children, you will probably want to research the catchment area of good schools.
Areas with good transport links to major towns and cities, and good local schools, tend to have higher property prices, so you may have to compromise on your idea location if you are on a limited budget. You should also check out local crime rates and if the area is within a flood zone.
Decide what is on your ‘must have’ list and what is on your ‘nice to have’ list, because unless you have a sizable amount to spend, you will probably have to make a few compromises. For example, maybe it would be nice to have three bedrooms so that you can have a home office and a guest room, but two would do if you put a sofa bed in the office.
For some people, a back garden is a must-have. If you have pets, a quiet street away from busy traffic may override other factors. Some people are happy to buy a cheaper property which they can renovate at their own pace, while others may prefer to pay more for a modernised house which needs no additional work.
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