Share a Mortgage's 12 'Real World' First Time Buyer tips


If you are a first time buyer intending to take your first step onto the property ladder, congratulations! You CAN do it, but you need to do many things to give yourself as much chance as possible. It's all about planning, preparation and above all, keeping a cool, realistic head. With that in mind, we offer our 12 tips to help your chances of success.

First time buyer? For experienced solicitors, call 0333 344 3234

1. Use our Mortgage Affordability Calculator firstly

Get as realistic an idea as possible about whether you can afford a mortgage in general and how much you might borrow. To use this, click here.

2. Use our  Mortgage Calculator

Get a clear idea of what the basic value and terms of a mortgage might be, once you have calculated how much mortgage you might get. When you have selected your target - or targets, at this stage - . Share a Mortgage's Mortgage Calculator is particularly useful if you are intending to share a mortgage with others.

3. Check out mortgage broker, bank and building websites

Get a a rough guide to what you could borrow from a lender's perspective. Take time over this and select the best one for your needs, using the information given in conjunction with Share a Mortgage's 'How much can I borrow?' tool, available here. Share a Mortgage can recommend excellent mortgage brokers for first time buyers, if you require quality mortgage advice.

4. Get all your information ready for either broker, bank or building society

This will include, among other things, passport, driving licence, pay slips, P60, utility bills etc. Share a Mortgage has some tips on improving your credit rating, available here.

It is worth bearing in mind that the more information your potential lender has then the quicker they can ultimately help you. Failure to produce required documents at the right time might add considerably to the length of the whole process. This is particularly the case since the roll-out of the Mortgage Market Review, which made applying for mortgages a more stringent process.

Your ability to make mortgage repayments each month will, for example, be stress-tested to see if you can survive a rise of up to 3% in base rates.

5. Check out property websites and estate agents

See what is available for your budget and in the locations you wish to live in. It is worth being as realistic as possible - you will have to live in the property and live generally as well as buying your home. You should also bear in mind how much more you might be expected to pay each month in the event of a rise in base rates.

First time buyers

6. Get your lender to confirm what they are willing to lend before you view houses.

Be sensible about which houses you view: going to visit a house you can never afford is probably not best for the psyche!

7. Get as much information as you can about houses you are viewing from the estate agents involved.

When it comes to the offer stage, forewarned is forearmed and all information is potentially useful and could in retrospect be worth a considerable sum. 

8. Instruct your solicitor through Share a Mortgage

We only use experienced, professional CQS Solicitors for conveyancing. They are able to tackle all types of residential conveyancing, even if it is complicated by matters such as leasehold, Help to Buy or shared ownership.

Your case will be handled by one solicitor only, who will work as efficiently as possible to complete your purchase for you. They are contactable by phone and will be in touch with you as often and as soon as any important developments crop up.

We recommend instructing a Share a Mortgage solicitor before making an offer to a seller (normally through an estate agent): it gives proof to a seller of the seriousness of your intent when you come to make an offer.

9. Make your offer to the seller

You will normally do this via an estate agent. Be realistic about your offer. In a seller's market, as pervades in most parts of UK at the time of writing, you may have to 'up' your offer. Do not, however, offer more than you can afford, taking into account possible changes in circumstance. 

10. Get a survey done through Share a Mortgage when a seller has agreed to negotiate or contract.

Share a Mortgage only use experienced RICS Surveyors. Getting a survey done is not a legal requirement but we thoroughly recommend that you get one, particularly if you are a first time buyer. A Homebuyer Report also includes a valuation, which a lender may accept for its own purposes instead of charging you for it additionally.

Bear in mind that buying a house will probably be the biggest type of purchase you will make in your life and that if you don't find out if the house you want to buy has any structural or other problems, you may pay massively financially at some point later. You may find it difficult, for example, to resell the property. A seller is under absolutely no legal obligation to flag up any defects in a property being sold.

11. Put some more cash aside

This is in addition to funds reserved for your deposit and fees required for stamp duty, land registry and your solicitor. There will always be something you have forgotten about and mortgage product fees can exceed £1,000. 

12. Try and relax

The process can be a protracted one, particularly in light of the new MMR regime. With any luck, your sale will complete and you can collect the keys to your new home, leaving just stamp duty (to be paid within 30 days of completion), land registry (normally paid within 3 months) and any outstanding solicitor fees to be  paid to complete the whole process.

First time buyer? Our experienced conveyancing solicitors can help you: call 0333 344 3234