When I was a youngster, I never realised that it would take until I was almost 40 before I was able to buy my first home. But then, I also assumed that I would get married quite early, have 2.4 kids and live in a semi detached house just up from where I grew up! How things don’t pan out the way you think! Buying your first home when you already have a family, commitments and ‘stuff’ requires much more thought – and money – than I had realised. Houses marketed as perfect for first time buyers were far too small for our growing family, but bigger properties were, unsurprisingly, much more money.
BUT…With a little bit of creative thinking outside of the box, we have managed to find the house of our dreams. Click To Tweet
You see, when I first started the search, I was all about the kids. What they’d love, big gardens for swings, space to run and play – the usual. We did see several that would fit the bill, but none of them made my heart sing. Until I realised that, actually, I didn’t want to buy a house that was perfect for the kids – I wanted the perfect house for ME.
After all, I’m the one in it most of the time. And I know, from the bottom of my soul, that if I don’t love it, then it’ll never become a home – it’ll stay a house! So, with that in mind, here are my top 9 tips for buying your first home when you are in your mid years!
Buying Your First Home – 5 Top Tips
1 – Get a mortgage offer in principle BEFORE you start looking
You absolutely can’t underestimate the utter fear and worry that applying for a mortgage brings. Will you get as much as you want? Will it be affordable each month? And so on. After all, there’s no point looking at houses that are either so far out of your reach that you’ll never be satisfied with anything less, or looking super cheap and hoping that you can find something, anything acceptable. I can tell you in full confidence that a) once you’ve seen big it’s really hard to go small and b) you’ll never be content with ‘just OK’.
Getting an offer in principle is ridiculously easy. Pop onto any reputable bank or building society website, pop in a few numbers, let it do it’s thing, and within about 15 minutes you’ll have an idea of how much you can borrow. Don’t then feel as though you have to stick with that bank afterwards – but it’s good to have a clear number to hand to work with, and you can find a better mortgage rate after you’ve found your house.
2 – Look ABOVE your maximum figure
This was one that I really struggled with. In my head there was only so much we could afford. We had the required 10% deposit for our maximum amount, so why would I look over my maximum figure. I really didn’t get it….until suddenly I did. The thing that was stopping me was that I didn’t want to be that person who sees a house £25,000 over budget and puts in a low ball offer – it’s just not me.
I soon noticed that after a few months, quite a lot of the house prices were plummeting. It’s very much a buyers market out there in many areas of the UK, and it’s always worth looking a little higher than you can afford as quite often the seller will come down in price. We quickly discovered that, because we had the mortgage in principle, had no chain and had the deposit sorted, we were very much in demand as buyers – and for many sellers, the ease that brings with it is worth a drop in price!
3 – See everything you can – even if you don’t think you’ll like it.
When we initially began our search, we were looking for a 4 bedroom detached property, in a rural setting, with a lot of land. We’ve ended up in the centre of a town, in a 5 floor townhouse with a tiny back garden. Completely different! We originally only looked at properties that met our brief, but none of them floated my boat – so I decided to see literally every different type of house out there, and it turns out I’m a townhouse type of gal. Completely impractical for 2 small children but very workable – and it’ll actually be brilliant for them as they grow up.Definitely don't just look for the circumstances you are currently in when buying your first home - think about what it'll be like in the future. Click To Tweet
If you buy next to a primary school for ease of now, will you still like it when the kids are in secondary? If rural is your thing, do you really want to be a taxi driver until the kids start to drive? If restaurants and an easy access to a road network is what you think you need, does it work for any pets you have or might have in the future. I think future proofing is heavily underrated, but it’s definitely something to consider seriously.
4 – Sell yourself!
When buying and selling a house, emotions play a huge part. I don’t know many people who can approach buying or selling with a completely rational head on. People who are selling family homes understandably want to ideally sell to people they empathise with. We found that families with grown up children were delighted that we were looking as it felt to them as though we’d bring their home back to life again. If you can see around the property you love, and meet the owners, before you put in an offer, it might stand you in very good stead if there are more people interested.
We made sure to take the kids around with us, and to make it really clear how much we loved the house. We chatted to the owners about our circumstances, let them know we were first time buyers with no chain, and found out a little more about their plans. In a few houses we initially liked, we discovered that the sellers hadn’t even started to think about buying a property yet, and that just wouldn’t work for us on our timescale – so it was also a good way to shortlist the different houses. For the house we are finally buying, there was us and another interested party, but the sellers decided they had more in common with us, so chose to sell to us rather than the other party. It’s definitely worth putting in some time with the sellers if you are truly interested in their house.
5 – Get a good team around you.
The temptation to try to cut corners and save some money when you know you are going to be buying your first home can be huge. We started looking for solicitors and I decided, quite early on, that we’d look into internet only solicitors as they are so much cheaper. However, we had a chat with some friends and family, and one very wise person said that it would be better to find a local solicitor that we could just walk into to drop off papers etc. She said, quite rightly, that otherwise we’d be back and forth to the post office, there would be delays while we waited for paperwork to arrive, and we’d end up spending out quite a bit on postage. With a local firm, we never post anything, we always drop it in and have a chat with the secretary – it makes it all much more personal.A local solicitor is worth their weight in postage costs - and you build a much more personalised relationship! Click To Tweet
We decided to do the same with our financial advisor. I put a note out on our local Facebook group for recommendations and pick the person who was recommended the most. There is nothing more reassuring than hearing from a whole bunch of other people saying that someone is great – and they were right!
So there you have it – my top 5 tips for buying your first home. It really is such an exciting (if a bit stressful) time, and we are really looking forward to getting our keys. I’m planning on keeping you all updated on how things go through the buying process, how we organise our moving and how we finally decide to decorate it – with some more top tips as we go!
If you have any other tips about buying your first home, we’d LOVE to hear them. After all, we all need every tip we can find to make this process just a little bit easier!
Don’t forget to grab my FREE home buying checklists below. The checklists help you compare the different houses as you go around (and believe me you’ll want to be writing things down!), and will guide you through the stages of buying your first home – making things just that little bit easier!