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I’m a first time buyer - where do I begin?

It’s trickier than ever to get on the property ladder these days, but you’ve finally managed to save up enough money and then realise... you don’t know what to do now…

Are you starting to think about buying your first home, but don’t really even know where to start? Getting a mortgage can be one of the most significant financial commitments you make in your lifetime, so it’s important to do your research and get a feel for what’s out there. It does get complicated in the world of property buying, so we’ve got some simple tips to give you the boost you might need to get started.

1. Figure out your budget

Budgets… we talk about them a lot. But working out your budget is essential when looking to buy a home - it’s the key starting point.

Have a look in your savings accounts, including any ISAs you have, and calculate how much you have in total. How much of that do you want to use as a deposit for your property? Our tip would be to keep some saved, you never know what sort of emergency home repairs might need doing after you move in! If you’re struggling with your savings, we’ve got a blog full of top tips for building a house deposit. ISAs or Individual Savings Accounts are a great way to help your money grow too - find out what type of ISA you should get.

You could also take a look at mortgage calculators online to figure out how much you’d likely be able to borrow with the deposit you have, and get an idea of what monthly repayments on that mortgage would be. It’s important to not over stretch yourself every month and only take out a mortgage you can afford!

2. Understand the market

Who doesn’t enjoy a late night scroll on Rightmove? Have a look online and search around the area you’d like to buy in to get an idea of what house prices are like in that area. In some areas your budget might get you a 4 bed detached, in some it might just about get you a 1 bedroom flat, it really does vary.

It’s also important to understand the wider housing market, are house prices rising, or are they falling? Is now a good time to buy?

3. Decide what criteria is important to you (and what you can afford)

Have a think about what your deal breakers are in a new home - how many bedrooms do you need, do you have a pet that needs access to a garden, are you wanting a flat or a house?

It’s also important to look at different areas and decide where you’d like to live, as we mentioned above some areas might be a lot more affordable than others!

Once you’ve set your criteria, get on Rightmove and search for those properties and determine whether they fit within the budget you set in step 1. Make sure you also think about any money that will need to spend on the property once you’ve bought it.

If you’ve got to this step and are now worrying that your criteria seems out of reach, there’s actually loads of support to help make buying more affordable. Check out our guide to getting onto the housing ladder for more tips.

4. Know your credit score

Before applying for any sort of borrowing, it’s important to know your credit score and maximise it where possible.

If you’re planning to take out a mortgage soon, avoid taking out any other borrowing in the run up to this as it could negatively impact your credit score if too much credit is applied for in a short space of time.

5. Secure a mortgage

The mortgage process itself is very complicated, so we advise speaking to a qualified mortgage adviser or financial adviser to help you find the right product for you.

For most of us, a mortgage is our only way to take that first step onto the housing ladder so it's handy to know what a mortgage is, how mortgages work, and how to get one!

6. Protect your income

Once you’ve got a mortgage it’s essential that you keep up with the monthly repayments. To do that you’ll need a steady income - if you’ve worked hard to buy a home, and you lose your income meaning you can no longer keep up with your mortgage payments, you could lose your home.

Income protection insurance could help you remove that worry (we’ve already got enough stuff to overthink about). You might be thinking what is income protection insurance and why do I need it? It’s basically a financial product that replaces your income if you can’t work because of an injury or illness. You can find out more about income protection insurance here.

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