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Power up to property ownership: tips for first-time home buyers

March 13, 2024 Reading Time: 4 minutes


For most of us, the ultimate dream is to own our own home. But rising mortgage rates, combined with the cost of living crisis, have put a dent in those dreams for many first-time buyers.

Now it seems there’s better news for first-timers who ponder the question, “Is it a good time to buy a house?” The cost of mortgages is going down, and there are a number of schemes available to re-energise buyers and help them onto the property ladder.

That’s why our estate agents in Ilford have joined forces with our Wanstead estate agents to explore the steps required for a successful first-time property purchase. From finance to final negotiation, we’ll examine the best way to approach buying a home of your own.

ps for first-time home buyers

Health check your finances

Before you start to browse those tempting property listings, it’s important to put some financial building blocks in place. The first consideration should be your credit score, as this will be a key factor when you are talking to lenders. The higher your score, the lower the interest rates on your mortgage will be, so it’s an advantage to start off with a good score. If your credit rating is less than perfect, take steps to build it up again, by paying bills on time and avoiding debt.

Health check your finances

Dig deep for your deposit

The second challenge will be finding the money for a deposit. Banks usually want buyers to pay a deposit that equals about 10 per cent of the property’s value, so you will pay £25,000 on a property worth £250,000.

Fortunately, there are other deals available for buyers who can’t raise such a large sum, including 95 and 100 per cent mortgages. These special deals require little to no deposit, but you should be aware that monthly payments will cost more.

There are also a number of schemes for first-time buyers that you could explore.

Be ready to buy

All buyers are strongly advised to get a mortgage approved in principle. When your bank has agreed to offer you a mortgage, you can enter the property market with confidence, knowing exactly how far your budget will stretch.

A pre-approved mortgage also saves valuable time when you’ve finally found your dream home and want to make an offer. Prepare for those hidden costs.

dream home

Before you make your offer, you may find it helpful to calculate the ‘hidden’ costs involved in buying a property and moving house.
These include professional fees for solicitors, surveyors, estate agents and mortgage brokers, plus stamp duty (for first time buyers this is payable on properties worth over £425,000). You should also factor in moving costs and the price of furnishings and appliances.

Make a list of priorities Have the nerve to negotiate

When you’ve organised your finances, you’ll be ready for the exciting task of looking for a property. At this point, it’s a good idea to make a list of ‘must haves’ versus ‘nice to haves’ to guide you when you begin your search.

While a ‘must have’ might be a garden or a parking space, your ‘nice to have’ list could include living in a particular area. If you can’t afford to buy in that exact location, you may decide to compromise by moving a few blocks away, where properties are cheaper.

Make a list of priorities

Have the nerve to negotiate 

Making an offer is the most nerve-wracking part of buying a property. At this point, you’ll need to be guided by your own instincts and the advice of the estate agent, who will play a central role in the negotiation. You can also do a little research yourself, checking how long the property has been on the market and noting the sold prices of similar local properties.

After that, all you can do is cross your fingers and hope for good news. If the first offer doesn’t fly, you can always try again with an increased amount.

It’s not over yet! 

It’s easy to imagine that once your offer is accepted, everything is done and dusted. In reality, it’s just the beginning of a lengthy process.

You will need to arrange a professional survey (your mortgage lender will require this), and you must then instruct a solicitor to carry out legal checks and prepare the contract.

A good estate agent will help you throughout this period, liaising with all parties and chivvying things along if they are moving too slowly.

Happy endings

If all goes well, the transaction should end with you picking up the keys to your new home.
The official key handover is something our Ilford and Wanstead estate agents really enjoy, and they would love to help you find your perfect first-time purchase. Why not start your home search by getting in touch with us right away?

Give us a call at 0203 972 7341 or email

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