We’re property experts – the five common mistakes you need to avoid as a first-time buyer

PRACTICE makes perfect – which means first-time buyers can often get caught out as newbies getting on the ladder.

Our new property experts, Rea Hill and Tonya Barnard, are here to advise you on common mistakes you need to watch out for.

The property twins share their tips on how to buy a house as a first-time buyerCredit: JOHN McLELLAN

They run their own estate agents called Victoria Louise in Essex and are known as the Property Twins on Instagram, where they share their advice as landlords, investors and property experts.

We will be featuring their advice and top tips as part of a six-part series. Send your questions to [email protected]

Here’s what they say first-time buyers must think about when getting on the ladder:

We’ve seen loads of buyers get excited and carried away, fall in love with a home and try to bag it at whatever cost.

But making a bad decision on your first home can be a very pricey one – not reading the small print of your contract or putting an offer in without doing the research can leave you thousands out of pocket.

Double check everything

Make sure you double check everything throughout the house buying process – from the moment you first start saving right until the end.

Tonya made this mistake when she was a first time buyer.

She talked to her bank to see if she could get a mortgage, but they declined her application – so she just assumed she wasn’t eligible for a loan.

But if she had double checked with a mortgage broker, she would have realised that there were plenty of other deals she could choose from, even though her own bank didn’t approve her loan.

She decided to save for another year, but could have bought a house a lot sooner had she got advice and guidance.

Check the lease

Before you even start looking around homes, make sure you get clued up on what a leasehold property means – and how it differs from a freehold.

A leasehold is where a homeowner buys the right to live in the property for a number of years, but doesn’t actually own the land the property sits on.

Whereas if you own a freehold property, you own the house outright.

If you’re buying a leasehold property, it’s really important to know how many years are left on the lease you’re buying from the freeholder.

Once the lease goes down to zero years, it returns to the freeholder – so ideally you want as many years left on the lease as possible, otherwise the house you’re buying will go down in value.

We knew someone who rushed into buying a property with not long left on the leasehold and paid well over the odds for it.

When he wanted to sell up and move on, he struggled to sell it because of the lease terms.

He had to cover the cost of extending the lease – which cost him thousands of pounds.

If he had done his homework properly when he originally bought it, he would have realised it wasn’t a good idea.

That’s why it’s a good idea to pay for a good solicitor, who will point out things like this to you.

Check for nearby schools

It might not even have occurred to you to check whether the house you want to buy is near a school.

We’ve found that first-time buyers don’t usually view their first property as a family home – and will usually want to wait a bit longer until having kids.

It could actually turn out to be a real pain if you buy somewhere near a school as a first-time buyer with this in mind – as Rea found out.

When she was a first-time buyer, she didn’t realise the road she bought her house along was the main one leading into a nearby school.

She couldn’t get out of her house between 8:25am and 9:15am – making it a nightmare to get to work.

Ask for a no sale, no fee deal

It can be heartbreaking when the seller pulls out of a deal after accepting your offer.

Not only has the house of your dreams slipped through your fingers, but you’ll have wasted money on fees like paying for solicitors, home surveys and property searches.

We were helping one lady sell her home, and she was left with £8,000 in legal fees after seeing three deals fall through.

This was really bad luck and quite unusual, but first-time buyers don’t know that deals can fall through easily – and it can eat a lot out of your deposit savings when this happens.

That’s why it might be an idea to ask your solicitor if they will agree to a no sale, no fee deal.

That means you don’t have to foot the cost of those solicitor fees if it all falls through.

Check local house prices

Chances are that you won’t stay in your first home forever.

You’ll want to move up the property ladder, and get a bigger house if you’re planning on starting a family.

With this in mind, you’ll want to try and make as much profit as possible when you do eventually sell up and move on.

After all, you’ll want as much cash as possible to put into putting down a deposit on your next house.

That’s why you don’t want to be paying way more than you should be doing for your first property.

We knew one buyer who offered £15,000 over the asking price on her first home.

Lenders will usually send over an expert to value the property before they agree to loan you any money.

And in this case, the bank offered her a mortgage £10,000 less than what she needed to secure the house.

Luckily, the seller agreed to go halves and she only had to find an extra £5,000 in the end.

But many people in her position would not have been able to stump up the cash in time – and would have had to walk away.

To avoid this happening, make sure to check local house prices to gage how much you should be offering.

Check to see how much similar properties on the same street have sold for.

You can search for how much houses sold for using the gov.uk’s house prices tool.

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