Buying a property is a huge step, whether or not it’s your first... and as well as being a big financial decision, it can also be a pretty emotional one.
After all, this is going to be where you spend a significant proportion of your time for the next few years.
At Ocean, we understand what a big deal buying a home is. That’s why we’ve put together this list of the 10 dos and don’ts of home buying.
1) Don’t be in a rush
As with all important decisions in life, buying a home is not something to be rushed. It takes time to save up a deposit; time to find the property you want; time to negotiate; time to complete the sale.
It can be tempting to speed the process along by rushing some parts, perhaps by looking for a mortgage before you’ve saved all the money you can, or skipping the survey and putting an offer on a property after one viewing. However, by doing this you may not end up with the home you want. Take your time to think everything through carefully and you could avoid heartache later.
2) Do choose carefully
When you imagine your perfect home, do you see a vision of a chocolate box cottage with a thatched roof and a picket fence? Or a grand mansion with a swimming pool? Well you may want to alter your dream a bit, as these properties could end up being a nightmare.
The thing is, thatched properties can be difficult to insure because of the increased fire risk, and you’ll also need to find a specialist to maintain it. And swimming pools can make it difficult to sell your home because of the cost involved of looking after them. Try to keep a level head when looking for a home and things should go swimmingly.
3) Don’t forget the future
Planning ahead can be difficult when you’re just trying to schedule a family dinner in a week’s time, so trying to think about what your life will be like in 2 years’ time may seem impossible. However, when you’re buying a home it’s important to consider what your needs will be not just this year but in a few years’ time too.
If you’re buying a home on your own, ask yourself if there’s space for a partner to move in if you meet someone special. You should also consider whether there will be room for children if they come along.
4) Do consider everything
And remember it’s not only the property itself you should think about, but also the area. Being in the city centre might seem great right now, but will it be as much fun if you move jobs and have a long commute in and out of the city each day? Or, if you’re thinking of moving to a country retreat with few amenities nearby, will you be willing to drive everywhere? And if kids do come along, is there a school nearby you’d be happy to send them to?
Once you’ve found a place you like, consider what the shops and schools are like in that area, and whether you’re happy with the transport links. You never know what the future holds.
5) Don’t stretch yourself
In order to bag the home you want, you might be tempted to stretch yourself, perhaps by borrowing more than you planned. However, this is something you should think about very carefully.
If you’re considering taking out a larger mortgage than you first thought, ask yourself whether you could still afford to make those payments if something changed – for instance, if you lost your job, reduced your hours or had a baby. Would your mortgage payments become unaffordable?
Similarly, if you’re thinking of taking out a larger mortgage but paying it back over a longer term (more than 25 years), consider whether you’ll still be able to afford it if you’re making payments after you retire.
6) Do remember the add-ons
As we mentioned, it can be tempting to borrow more to bag yourself the home of your dreams, but before you spend every last penny on the property itself, remember that there are other expenses you’ll need to cover. Solicitors’ fees, surveys, moving costs and stamp duty will all need to be paid from your own pocket.
Stamp duty in particular can be a substantial sum of money and you should always make sure you include it in your calculations when you’re weighing up whether or not you can afford to make an offer on a house. You can find out more about stamp duty here.
7) Don’t forget your other expenses
In addition to the costs of moving house themselves, you also need to think about all your other outgoings when you work out what you can afford to spend on a new home. Once you move in, you’ll have to be able to afford your mortgage on top of bills like home and contents insurance, council tax, motor insurance, gas and electricity and your phone bill.
If you take out a mortgage that’s at the very top end of what you can afford, you may find you’re stretched when everything starts to come out of your account.
8) Do set a limit
The thing is, it’s easy to be sensible before you actually start to look for a house, but when you fall in love with a property all this can go out of the window. That’s why it’s so important to set yourself a spending limit before you start making offers.
Emotions can often prevent you from thinking clearly and may prompt you to stretch yourself too far. By staying within the limits you’ve set, you’ve got a better chance of securing yourself a dream home and a dream lifestyle too.
9) Don’t cut corners
Another temptation when you’ve found the property you want is to try and save time and money by not having a survey done. Your mortgage provider will carry out a survey as standard, but this is very basic – usually they don’t even enter the property.
What may seem like a dream house now could very quickly reveal itself not to be when you move in and realise there’s rising damp, a sagging roof, outdated wiring and a host of other problems you didn’t notice when you looked round. Getting a survey may take up more time and money, but it could help you avoid making a mistake – and you may even be able to use the results to negotiate a lower price from the seller.
10) Do enjoy it
Buying a property can be a long, costly and stressful experience. But very little compares to finally getting the keys in your hand, moving in your boxes and enjoying a takeaway dinner in your very own home.
By planning, budgeting and looking carefully and avoiding the most common mistakes home buyers make, you could find the process of buying a property is a lot more positive that you thought.
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