Diary of a First-time Buyer: Part One - The decision to buy

Are you a first-time buyer looking to secure your first mortgage? You are not alone. I too am setting foot on the property ladder for the first time. In the coming weeks I will be chronicling my experiences here, in the hope of helping others as I strike out towards homeownership.

Hello everyone. I’m Graeme, the in-house Data Analyst at Mortgages for Business, and at the age of 25 I am finally in the process of buying my first home. Talking to my friends from university, it seems that most have taken one look at the housing market and decided, after the screaming stopped, that renting is the only realistic option.

So why am I buying? More importantly, why now? Well, I’ve never seen the appeal of renting. If I’m going to pay monthly for the benefit of living somewhere, I’d like to at least be able to call it my own one day. As for the timing, this is quite simply my first opportunity. I’m now on my second job, and having settled in I’ve had time to build up some savings toward a deposit.

Joining me in this endeavour is my older brother, two years my senior, who works as an engineer. After a brief stint looking at one-bedroom flats in 2015, he suggested that we might buy something nicer if we did so together, albeit this would have to wait until I’d saved up a bit too.

At this point I should mention that, like many others in the age of Generation Rent, we both currently live with our parents, along with two dogs: a cocker spaniel and a golden retriever.

How much can we afford?

First, of course, we set a budget. Nothing fancy, all we did was take a look at roughly how much we had in savings, knock off a margin for costs, then assume a 90% LTV mortgage (fairly typical for first timers) and multiply the whole thing by ten. We also stuck some numbers into a mortgage repayment calculator to see exactly how much we might have to fork out each month.

Having done this, we began to think about where we were going to buy. My brother and I do not work near each other; I am based at Mortgages for Business headquarters in Kings Hill, while he works in Leatherhead. We looked at pricing and, rather than split the commute, my brother quickly decided that our budget would go furthest somewhere nearer my work than his. I don’t necessarily agree with his reasoning, but I have no intention of arguing my way out of a 15-minute commute.

This was when things slowed down. For all our good intentions, it appeared that neither of us actually had a good idea of what exactly we were looking for. Yes, we needed at least two bedrooms. Yes, we needed parking for at least two cars. But what else? We didn’t know. What followed was a two-month period of browsing Rightmove while making insightful comments such as “Yeah, maybe...”

Looking for a property

This was, unsurprisingly, unproductive. One day we decided we needed to move things along, so we got in touch with an estate agent. We explained our intentions to buy a house and relayed our half-baked description of what we were looking for. “What” we asked “do you have that meets this description?” This proved to be naive.

Having given vague assent to view an unspecified number of properties the following weekend, what followed next was a slew of emails confirming our appointments to view no fewer than five houses in the space of a single afternoon. Still, it could be worse – at least we were moving!

Two days later we were on our way to Snodland. Having been prepared to look past the rather unfortunate name, we’d earmarked this town as a prime opportunity, and it was here that we would spend a busy afternoon looking at houses.

By the end of the day, we had learned a lot about what we were looking for. In no particular order, we had realised that:

• Equally sized bedrooms are hard to come by in 3-bed properties
• The fewer rooms a property has, the bigger they can be
• Two parking spaces is good, independent access is better

Having made these discoveries, we both agreed that one property in particular met all our needs, and came in under budget to boot. I wouldn’t call it a dream home, but we decided to offer the full asking price without delay, so it’s fair to say we were quite pleased with it.

I therefore returned to work on the Monday with a mission: to back up our offer with a mortgage in principle…

 

Thinking of getting a mortgage to buy your first home?

Diary of a first-time buyer: Part Two - Choosing a mortgage

Diary of a first-time buyer: Part Three - Joint tenants or tenants in common

Diary of a first-time buyer: Part Four - Home valuation reports, a waiting game

Diary of a first-time buyer: Part Five - Completion at last

 

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Talk through your requirements

If you are a first time buyer looking for help to find the right mortgage, call our qualified mortgage advisers now to talk through your requirements: 0345 345 6788.

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