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First Time Buyer Tips in Northern Ireland9th June 2017

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First time home buyer tips in Northern Ireland

Making the move and becoming a first time buyer is a huge step for most people. From deposits to government schemes and new builds to re-sale properties, it can seem like a minefield to the uninitiated but the reality is that the process can be simplified into a few key steps.

At Colin Graham Residential we focus on giving Northern Ireland’s first time buyers the best advice available to ensure the experience is as easy and stress-free as possible. 

To get started, read through these first time buyer tips and you should develop a clearer picture of the weeks ahead.

Save for a Deposit

For non-homeowners without a deposit, or with a 5% deposit, there are schemes such as Co-Ownership and OwnCo. These schemes are very popular and offer an alternative to renting to help purchasers take their first step onto the property ladder. Our financial advisor would be happy to explain to you in more detail, alternatively more information can be found online https://www.co-ownership.org/ or https://www.owncohomes.uk/

If going down the regular mortgage route you’ll need a deposit so it’s highly recommended that you start saving as soon as possible.

Deposits can start at just 5% of the house value (e.g. a £5000 deposit for a house valued at £100,000) but this is the absolute minimum and it’s recommended that you aim to save for a larger deposit if possible.

This is primarily because the best mortgage lender rates start at 10-15% and above so a larger deposit can result in greater levels of flexibility and choice. 

Establish Your Budget

Take time and advice to establish your budget before beginning the viewing process.

To get started make an appointment with your financial advisor or bank to check figures, in relation to your savings and monthly income, and establish a realistic budget to move forward with.

This is beneficial on two fronts. Firstly, with the correct guidance and expertise, you will develop a much clearer picture of what is realistically affordable. Secondly, being able to display this to estate agents and potential vendors will hold you in much better stead and will also speed up the buying process if and when you have an offer accepted on a property.

Here at Colin Graham Residential our in-house financial advisor William Fullerton is happy to answer questions and provides a free, no-obligation, advisory service to steer you in the right direction. You only pay a small fee should you avail of William’s services, which is completely upfront and transparent. 

Research the Market

Many people begin their search in the property market with general ideas of what they want or like, but it’s highly recommended that you take the time to research different options and areas available to you.

If and when you start to hone in on one specific geographical area start to consider what works for your personal situation. Apartments, semi-detached and detached houses all offer different things so it’s important to be clear about what you want and need. Your agent will also be able to answer any queries on the house and area, it’s worth asking their advice should you need it. 

Get Viewing!

Now to the viewing…the fun part of the house buying process!

After saving for a deposit, establishing your budget and researching the overall market it’s time to get out there.

To get started, shortlist your preferred options and make appointments to view. We know it can be tricky to balance viewings around work and family life but we’d recommend viewing a broad selection of different options to ensure you truly know what’s out there and what you like.

Also, try to develop your own wish list, highlight everything from essentials right down to desirables, and take it with you to each viewing to guide your decision-making.

If you’re interested in new builds most developments open their show properties on Sunday afternoons. Appointments can also generally be made for mid-week viewings but check with the estate agent involved beforehand just to be sure. 

Make an Offer 

Once you’ve found your dream home, make an offer!

Re-sale properties will have a guide price, close to the level the vendor is hoping to achieve, but we’d recommend talking to the agent to see if there are other external factors (e.g. demand) that might impact offers. If your first bid is rejected you can return with another higher bid that may be more acceptable.

Generally there is no bidding on new build homes. In this case you simply pay a holding fee through the agent once you have made your choice. Please be careful when considering this as a portion, if not all, of the holding fee is normally non-refundable- please note the level of holding fee and conditions vary from developer to developer so again please check with your agent when considering/booking.

At offering stage it is necessary, where possible, to have a decision in principle (DIP) or arrangement in principle (AIP) from your lender/financial advisor. 

Have an Offer Accepted

Once you’ve had an offer accepted you will be required to appoint a solicitor and formally apply for finance, unless you aren’t taking any.

Solicitor fees vary, and it’s recommended that you ask your agent, family or friends for recommendations if you’re completely new to the process, but remember that the cheapest option might not be the best. Agents are worth asking also as they’ll deal with them on a daily basis and will therefore be able to give you advise on which offer a good service. Please also be aware that the cheapest aren’t always the best, it’s important that they are prompt and thorough.

It’s also worth remembering that the house buying process does incur various fees and you will be required to pay stamp duty if the property costs more than £125,000 to please budget accordingly. 

Contract Stage / Completion

Unless purchasing cash, your lender will automatically arrange a survey on your property. Once this comes back clear your mortgage will be ‘offered’, this process typically takes two to four weeks during which time your solicitor will check through the Title Deeds and contract, along with carrying out necessary checks and searches.

Once your solicitor is satisfied and your mortgage offer is in place with them you will be asked to sign, at which point a completion date will be set normally. On the day of completion money and keys are exchanged. A good agent will liaise with you and the other parties involved throughout the agent, prompting each party as and when necessary to ensure a smooth and stress free sale. 

Moving Forward

When you’re ready to move forward you can contact us by clicking here. We’re happy to have a chat and help you make your first move when the time comes.

First time home buyer tips in Northern Ireland