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Five top tips for first-time buyers

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First-time buyers have been boosted by the stamp duty exemption, but how can they ensure homebuying success?
Five top tips for first-time buyers

First-time buyers are reaping the benefits of the changes made to stamp duty laws in the 2017 Budget, according to MoneySuperMarket.

The price comparison site found that, from March-October 2018, 732 first-time buyer mortgages were taken out each day, compared to 669 per day during the same period in 2017 – a 9% increase year-on-year.

Sally Francis-Miles, money spokesperson at MoneySuperMarket, said: “It is great to see that first-time buyers are taking advantage of the 2017 changes to stamp duty laws to get on the housing ladder.

“However, it is imperative that those looking to buy their first home really do their mortgage homework and look at what they can afford. Rushing into buying and going for a mortgage or Help to Buy scheme that doesn’t suit could result in first-time buyers paying a lot more than necessary for their first home.”

So what else should first-time buyers do to get on the property ladder and bag a great mortgage?

Moneysupermarket has published its five top tips:

Know your options: Do you know your fixed rate from your tracker mortgage? Are you getting the best rate possible? Have you considered a Help to Buy scheme? Is now a good time to buy? Buying a house can be daunting, and there are so many options and rates to consider, but knowing the benefits of each could save you thousands of pounds over the term of your mortgage.

Research the area: Find out what the amenities and transport links are like and, if you have children, whether there are good schools in the area. It’s also a good idea to check out the crime levels in your chosen location by putting your postcode into the MoneySuperMarket burglary hotspot tracker. You can also use the government’s planning portal to find out whether there have been any planning applications nearby to avoid any nasty surprises.

View plenty of properties: It can be easy to fall in love with the first or second property you see, but viewing a few others to see how they compare (both in look and price) will mean you’re more prepared when you finally take the plunge.

Talk to your estate agent: Don’t be afraid to ask the estate agent questions. Find out how much experience they have selling properties in the area, ask how long the property has been on the market, and see whether they know what fixtures and fittings will be included in the sale. If the seller is there, you can ask them too.

Watch out for jargon and sales tactics: Many of us are already aware of some of the classic estate agent jargon. For example, ‘cosy’ usually means ‘small’, and if you’re told you’ll be able to ‘put your own stamp’ on the property, it usually means it needs modernising. If you make an offer below the asking price, you might be told that someone else is keen on the property and willing to offer the full amount, so you’ll lose the property if you don’t match or exceed their offer. Don’t be pressured into making a rushed decision, and be prepared to walk away from a property if it’s above your set spending limit.

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