After buying my first home at the back end of last year, all I can say is yes, it’s super difficult and very stressful, but in the end, it’s worth it. It most definitely came with its difficulties, some which could have been avoided in my opinion. I’m hoping that with my experience I can offer some half decent advice to all you first-time buyers!
This is something I wish I’d been told! Before you start trawling through Rightmove to find your dream home, get yourself into a few banks/building society’s to see what they are willing to lend you. There is no point looking through houses that you’ll never be able to afford. It’s really heartbreaking when you find out the bank won’t lend you half a million for your dream house haha…..also when you come to put an offer on a house, more often than not the estate agent will want proof that you have been offered the funds.
We searched and searched for ages for the right mortgage for us. Eventually, we started looking at building society’s as well. This was one of the best decisions we made in the whole buying process. Yorkshire Building Society have been absolutely fantastic from day one. Our mortgage advisor was incredibly helpful and insightful and, more-often-than-not, answered questions for us that our solicitor should have advised us on. They are truly fantastic, and because they are owned by “the people” and work for “the people”, we found that the level of service has been above and beyond.
After all, they have more experience dealing with them daily than we all do! We faced this problem when we bought. We took recommendations from the banks/building society’s websites as you could get a bit of a discount this way. However, when we told the estate agent who we went with they advised us to change, (it was a tad late at that point) and we went ahead anyway. A decision that I know we both regret. Never have I known anything so stressful as dealing with solicitors!
If you’re a solicitor, I’m sorry, and I’m sure that our experience is not a true reflection of them all. We do have friends who have had no issues with this aspect of buying, but we seem to have picked a terrible one! When dealing with a solicitor my best piece of advice would be to keep on top of them, call them as often as you see fit, don’t harass them obviously, but likewise don’t leave it for weeks to wait for an answer for them. You’d be amazed at how quickly they can actually do things when you chase them.
So when we were buying our house, my other half was also selling his. This meant double the paperwork. I’ve never known anything like it. I remember sitting in the living room on an evening after work and laying all of the documents out on the coffee table. Be prepared for spending a good few nights getting through it all. It seems like it will never end but trust me, the end is in sight! I chose to fill in all the documents myself as I’m pretty organised and like getting things done. Doing it this way probably saved on a few arguments too!
I also got myself a “home file” from WHSmith’s. This helped me organise the mountains of paperwork we had. Each pocket is named so you can easily sort everything into categories. It has everything from mortgage to bills and even a car section. It’s the ultimate “accessory” for organising your paperwork.
When you buy a house, you have to be prepared for fees. This isn’t just your stamp duty (which you now don’t have to pay as a first-time buyer), it’s things like the small hidden fees that your solicitor adds on if you want them to hold any documents for you. When we got our final bill through, it was about £150 more than I’d calculated myself. When I questioned it with them I was told that because they were going to hold our documents for us in storage they were going to charge me. I was quite shocked by this and just told them to send any paperwork to me in the post. This meant they could take the charge off the bill.
Anything like this, or anything you’re not sure of, please please please, question it! You never know, and you don’t want to end up paying for something you shouldn’t have.
I would recommend this tip so much. Having money behind us for putting our stamp on the house has made the first couple of months amazing. We’ve been able to get some painting done, buy picture frames, cushions, you name it! It’s also meant that we’ve still been able to save and be money savvy, and not been left feeling totally penniless. Even if you’re moving into a new build house, I’d still recommend having money set aside. It will allow you to personalise your home so it truly feels like your own.
Over everything though, just enjoy it! Embrace the good, the bad and the ugly. Moving into your first home together isn’t easy. There’s so much stress involved. But if you’re in it together, and work as a team, I’m sure you’ll both make the best of it!