First-time buyers could be set to face some difficult decisions about when is the right time to get onto the property ladder.
The market has continued to remain stagnant after two months of falls, according to the Daily Mail.
However, rents are running high and a generation of young people potentially face years to save enough for a deposit for buying a house.
Has the old assumption that property is the soundest place to invest taken a hit? What is the lending landscape? We’ve done our research, but after living in a succession of rented flats, my boyfriend and I have finally bought a place of our own.
Being first-time buyers it was certainly a struggle, but we learned a lot. We are now equipped with nerves of steel, the minds of trained negotiators and the patience of Mother Theresa, to name but three.
Here are a few of the other things we found out along the way.
It may take ages to find somewhere
Once we’d made the decision to buy, we thought that finding a flat would be a breeze. It wasn’t. There just wasn’t anything on the market for us to buy.
Recent articles back up our experience, with the Daily Mail finding that there’s a lack of ‘first-time sellers’ more than ‘first-time buyers’. That was definitely true in our case. Finding our flat took us the best part of six months – and it didn’t end up being in area we’d been looking in, either.
Do your research
When we found our flat, we did all the research we could on both the property and the area. We asked around all the estate agents and found that flats like the one we were buying (a two bedroom Victorian conversion) were always popular among buyers. That eased our worries about selling it again. According to Channel 4 Homes advice for first timers, it’s good to know which properties continually perform well in your area so that yours will be easier to sell and hopefully make you a profit.
Put in a low offer
You can make huge savings if you’re brave and put in a low offer. As a rule of thumb, aim to pay 10 per cent less than you think the property is worth. It’s nerve-wracking waiting for the seller to come back to you, but was worth it for us in the end. Not sure what it’s worth? You can work out the average selling price per metre by checking the value of all the properties on the road on a site such as Rightmove.
Have a safety net
This could take the form of buying a flat with a spare room you could let out if money gets tight, or, in our case, checking what rent we could get for our flat should we start to struggle with mortgage repayments. We’ve also bought somewhere we can stay for five years – we’re hoping by that time the market will pick back up and we’ll be out of recession.
Once you’re in, get home insurance
When we rented, we never quite got round to taking out home insurance. It just seemed like one other monthly outgoing we couldn’t afford when we were saving up for the deposit on our new flat.
We’re not alone – the BBC estimate that almost two million people in the UK have no home insurance, meaning that, like us, they could lose everything if the worst happened.
That all changed when we got our new home. As the biggest purchase we’re ever likely to make (we’re not planning on buying a super yacht anytime soon) we had to make sure that it was completely covered. After all, we’ve worked so hard to buy the flat and all the lovely new things we’ve put into it, that we would be heartbroken if anything happened.
While buildings insurance is more than likely a requirement of your mortgage, getting adequate home contents insurance can easily get overlooked as you struggle to secure a mortgage and buy a property. But it really is vital for complete peace of mind in your lovely new home.
Disclosure: This guest post is brought to you by Sainsbury’s Bank.