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7 Common mistakes made by first time buyers

Date Published 07 December 2015

I have been there, albeit many years ago. The time has come to leave your parental home and purchase your first property. For me, it was a one bedroom flat in Ilford, Essex. It was a good size, ex-council flat on a small estate along a busy road, nothing to write home about, however, a good solid starting point. The sale went through reasonably well; not all sales do and there many potential pitfalls that can be avoided. I shall enlighten you on 7 of the common mistakes made by first time buyers.

1. Not using a mortgage broker.
It kind of makes sense to approach your trusted bank that you have held an account with for many years, typically the same bank our parents were with after all, they would likely have helped you set up the account. However, in this age there are many, many products available offering different rates, different terms, different repayment methods in fact far too many to choose from and a risk of information overload. I cannot advise enough that it is worth using a mortgage broker, they are 'worth their weight in gold' and will source the best product for you using around 95% of the mortgage market and spend the time speaking to the bank or building society you decide on saving you time, time that can be better spent elsewhere. It is true that many charge a fee, normally only a few hundred pounds and in my eyes, money well spent.

2. Not visiting the property many times.
I have sold many properties to buyers who only visit the home once. I would suggest visiting at least twice if not 3 times during the sale process and at different times of the day. This will enable you to see the parking along the road, where the sun is over the property and what the neighbours are like.

3. Only relying on a mortgage valuation survey.
Only time will tell if a buyer should have obtained a more detailed survey. The valuation survey that the mortgage company carry out is really only a quick look over the property to ensure that if you default on the mortgage, the bank could get their money back, nothing more, nothing less. A homebuyers' survey backed by RICS, (The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) would cost around £400-£500 and would highlight any defects such as damp, cracking to the brick work and poorly carried out building work that would need confirming with the local authority.

4. Missing the potential for a property.
I love it when young first time buyers bring their mum and dads to a viewing. It is true that the parents can make or break a sale. The years of wisdom that the parents bring to the table can be immense and can offer some sobering comments that at first may have been overlooked by the young buyers. Always try to bring a third party back to the property to offer a separate opinion.

5. Overstretching the finances.
We all do it. We are advised what we can borrow from the bank plus our deposit and we add 15-20% to this figure, then look for a property to this value. It is normal to do this however, it does not allow for any unexpected financial burdens that may come to light when you move in. Know your numers and buy with your head as well as your heart.

6. Limiting your property search.
We all have aspirations and why not, we should. Don't rule out a property that does not tick all the boxes, go and have a look inside you may be surprised. Countless times I have spoken to buyers about a particular home for sale only for it to be ruled out and then at a later date they re-consider and go on to buy the home. If you need a garage and a house does not have one, is there space to build one? If you need an en-suite can you take a bit of space from a bedroom or fit a combi boiler and remove the hot water cylinder giving you instant space for a shower tray.

7. Using a buying agent.
Buying agents aren't that well known in the U.K. however, they can save you time and money as a good one will view homes on your behalf with your criteria in mind, negotiate on your behalf and see the sale through from start to finish. Sellers have an estate agent acting for them so why shouldn't the first time buyer?

Written by Jeremy Tyler. Director at Tyler Estates, Billericay