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Every first-time buyer needs to know these 6 things

By Jan Moys

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These insider tips from one of our top sales negotiators will give you the edge when securing your dream property. Andrew Furlonger from our West End office reveals six things every first time buyer should know.

Buying your first property is like bungee jumping – exciting and terrifying. The tips below will help you to avoid the most common errors made by first-time buyers and secure the home of your dreams.

1. Be prepared

Before you even begin your search make sure you have sat down with a ‘whole of market’ mortgage broker (such as Alexander Hall) and know exactly how much you have to play with. Also find a good conveyancing solicitor, preferably one who operates on a no-sale no-fee service (we recommend searching through a panel, such as Conveyan).

Finance and conveyancing are very common reasons for a purchase to unravel; they also tend to be the areas people spend the least amount of time researching. Get ahead of the game and organise these before you start your search.

2. Balancing factors

Three factors that must always be balanced when buying a home are price, space and location. Changing one factor will impact the others. For example, if you increase your budget, you can get a better location and more space. Alternatively, by changing location you could reduce your budget or increase the size of property you can buy. Play around with this model to match your specific requirements. Compromise and flexibility are key, along with discussing your requirements with a good agent.

3. Understand the area

You can get a general idea about the market in the areas you're interested in by looking at Zoopla for current listings and historical sales data, plus Land Registry monthly reports for market trends. However, your local agent is always the best person to really understand the market there and give you an up-to-date appraisal of what your budget will buy.

They will understand what people are actually spending in the areas you are looking in. Once you can accurately assess property values, you can determine what you are prepared to spend and also the premium you place on getting a unique property.

4. The search

See as many properties as you can so you get a good feel for the market. Most buyers view between 4-8 properties. Try to see a wide range of different properties and locations.

Build good relationships with estate agents. Basics such as sticking to appointments and being on time are obvious. Returning calls/emails and providing constructive feedback will also ensure you stay on top of your search and get the most out of your agent. For bonus points, be available for viewings on weekday mornings and afternoons!

5. The offer

A good offer will be at a fair price with finance in place and a solicitor instructed. Avoid multiple offers as this may reduce your appeal to a vendor. Make sure your agent has given you the full story behind the property, such as lease length, any major works planned and the motivation of the seller.

If you have your eyes set on a dream property that is above your budget, an effective strategy is as follows. Put forward a ‘take it or leave it’ offer. Emphasise that you see the value in the property but you are capped at this price point. In return for accepting the offer you will move to completion as fast as is humanly possible (see tip 1 – 'Be prepared').

6. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best

Transactions often take longer than first-time buyers expect. Also be aware that sales can fall through – being mindful of this and actually anticipating it will greatly help maintain your sanity through the process.

Anticipating that the purchase may take some time could prevent you ending your rental agreement too soon and having to stay with friends or family until the completion date. Also, if you consider the possibility of the purchase falling through, you're going to be better at staying open to new possibilities if things don't go according to plan.

If you need more information, don't hesitate to get in touch with your local Foxtons office. Click here to find your nearest branch.

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