A home is likely to be the most expensive purchase you’ll ever make in your life. But talk to any first time buyer and they’ll tell you it’s the best money they’ve ever spent. Just walking through your own front door for the first time is worth its weight in gold. But getting to that point can be rather daunting. With so many things to think about and third parties to deal with, it can be a difficult process. So we’ll make it easier. Here are five simple steps to buying your first home.
Step 1: Get a hold of your latest credit score and credit report
Sadly, there aren’t many of us that can afford to walk straight into a bank and withdraw a gargantuan bundle of cash big enough to purchase an entire house outright. So the majority of us need a mortgage. And to get the best (most affordable) mortgage at the best rate, you’ll need a good credit score. The best mortgage could be worth thousands to you. Tens of thousands in fact, so it’s pretty important you’re on top of your credit score. In all seriousness, it could mean the difference between getting your house and not getting it. If your credit score is 99, happy days. If it’s in single figures, you’ll need to do something about it. Seriously.
Step 2: Get an agreement in principle from a lender EARLY
OK, so you’ve got your credit score. Let’s move on to the next branch of the mortgage money tree. You’ve tracked down the best mortgage deal. Now it’s time to apply for it. It can take much longer than you imagine for the entire house buying process to go through, so try and get an agreement in principle from your chosen lender nice and early. If they don’t give you an agreement in principle, you have time to find a different lender that will. This whole process will also give you an idea of what you can borrow. The key is not to wait around. The sooner you grab the bull by the horns, the less chance you have of somebody else getting their hands on your dream home.
Step 3: It’s viewing time
This is the fun bit. Viewing houses is a great way to find the homes you love and unearth the ones you’d avoid like the plague. It also gives you an idea of the general area. A little tip is to look at the cars in the neighbourhood. If they’re nice, new and shiny – good. If they’re on fire – probably bad. Remember when viewing that it’s easy to get caught up in the romanticism of a new home. Be pragmatic. Look at the finishes of the house. Will you need to completely redecorate the place or more? Will you need to hire painters, joiners and plumbers? Will you need to roll up the sleeves and do loads of DIY? All those trips to the DIY superstore can add up.
Step 4: The end is in sight – Time to exchange contracts
Things are looking great. Your mortgage is approved. All checks, surveys etc. have been done. So what now?
- Time to sign the contract. Once signed, you are the legal owner of a new home!
- The seller will sign their own copy, which is then passed on to their solicitor.
- Both solicitors swap contracts. The deed is done. At this point, you could do a little dance or high five if you fancy.
- You’re not finished yet though. Both you and the seller still need to sign documents again at settlement.
Step 5: Complete!
Get in. Literally.
You’ve completed on your new home. Time to get moving. This is the really fun bit. It’s your new home – your own space that you can do exactly what you want with. What furniture is going where? Oh, remember to get in touch with everyone you can think of with your new address, including your bank, your work, your phone company – everyone. Set up your new utilities providers. And hunt around first to get the best deal – you’re a dab hand as you did it to find your mortgage! And lastly, invite the friends round for a housewarming party. A little thought – you could put a paintbrush in their hand when they arrive. Home sweet home.