Entering the property market for the first time is a huge step, but the knowledge that you are about to take ownership of your very own home will spur you on throughout the process.
For prospective first-time buyers, it’s vital that you build up your savings, cut down on borrowing and ensure you have a good credit record. It will help if you’re on the electoral register, are in steady employment, have kept accurate records of your income and tax, have copies of your last six months’ bank statements and have your last three months’ payslips.
Before you start looking around, you must be clear about exactly what you can afford. A mortgage expert can help you work out the total costs involved in buying a property.
To get a basic idea, many property websites have mortgage payment calculators that are easy to use.
Talk to lenders about mortgages as early as possible. Your bank or building society is a good starting point. One of the first questions an estate agent will ask is what your price ceiling is – i.e. the most you’re willing to spend.
Speak to a mortgage adviser if you want advice on what you can afford and the options available to you. You may be able to buy with someone else or get a member of your family to help.
Bear in mind the cost of protecting your home. Establish what insurance you’ll need before you set your mortgage budget.
As you look around for suitable properties, think hard about your preferred locations, how much living space you’ll need and how much home improvement work you’re prepared to carry out.
When looking at properties, take someone with you as they may pick up things you miss and you can discuss it with them later. Arrange a second viewing at a different time on another day.
Consider the following points if you are buying a brand new home:
- The plans and room sizes – these may be smaller than in the showroom.
- Small print in the developer’s specification, to check the finishes are what you want.
- Availability of a warranty such as a National House Building Council certificate or a Premier Guarantee.
- The amount which lenders are prepared to loan you will typically be reduced if the property is brand new.
When you are sure you have found the right property, it’s time to make an offer. Having answers to the following questions will make it easier for you:
- What is the maximum amount you can spend?
- What percentage mortgage is required?
- Is the mortgage pre-arranged?
- What is your timespan for the move?
- Do you have any other outstanding offers?
- How much are you willing to offer and how much you are willing to negotiate?
- Which fixtures and fittings are included in the sale?
Low-cost Initiative for First Time Buyers (LIFT)
The Scottish Government is committed to supporting home ownership in a sustainable way by helping people on low to moderate incomes to become home-owners, where that is affordable for them.
Its Low-cost Initiative for First Time Buyers (LIFT) brings together several ways to help households access home ownership through shared equity schemes.
Shared equity is a way to buy a home without having to fund all of it. When you buy a shared equity home from a housing association or on the open market, you pay for the majority share in it and the Scottish Government pays the rest under an agreement which it enters into with you.
For details, visit the LIFT page.