Are you a first time buyer, looking to purchase your first home in 2024? Congratulations if you’ve made it here, saving for your home deposit is not an easy task. Having recently gone through this process myself, I thought I would compile the steps for other first time buyers. My journey has progressed much quicker than I anticipated. In hindsight there are things I could have prepared earlier in order to make things easier. As of the end of December 2023, I have had an offer accepted, survey completed and I have instructed a solicitor. Looking to buy your first home in 2024? Here’s where to begin:
First Time Home Buyers Guide 2024
1. Improve your Credit Score
Hopefully you’ve been keeping track of your credit score, but if you currently have no idea what your credit score is, you will want to find this out before you proceed any further. I have used Credit Karma for years, but there are others you can use to check and monitor your score. Ideally you should have a good/excellent score and a good history – no missed payments.
2. Mortgage Affordability Calculators
How much can you afford to pay each month? Essentially, how much house can you afford. There are many online calculators which will give you a rough idea. This is not based on personal circumstances, but it will allow you to review if you have saved enough for your deposit. Bear in mind there are extra fees associated with buying a home: Survey, Solicitors etc. One thing to consider is the affordability of your chosen mortgage when it’s time to renew. Currently rates are fairly high compared to previous years, however, there is the possibility that they could go up in future. Here’s a useful calculator from Money Savings Expert.
3. Get a Mortgage in Principle / Speak to a Mortgage Advisor
I found out about London & Country through family and used their online Mortgage Finder to get a Mortgage in Principle. This is the first idea you will get on how much a lender is likely to allow you to borrow based on your personal circumstances. After submitting this, I then had a call with someone at London & Country. They came back with a competitive mortgage rate and we have submitted my application to the Lender. L&C are the UK’s largest Fee Free Mortgage Broker, see how much you could borrow with their Online Mortgage Finder. * This is a referral link in which I would receive commission if you take out a mortgage.
4. Prepare your documents
When you have an offer accepted on a property, you will be asked for several documents in order to take the property off the market. It’s best to have these to hand so that you can provide these quickly. Doing this the first time myself, my offer was accepted and then I needed to get the documents. Which took a few days to sort due to work commitments and office hours. Make life easier for yourself and have them ready to go straight away. You will likely be asked to provide:
- Decision in Principle from Mortgage Company and proof of deposit (dated within last 3 months). Screenshots won’t be accepted, spend some time locating the downloadable statements.
- Proof of ID
- Solicitors details
You will be asked to provide the following for Mortgage brokers / Solicitors so prepare this ahead of time.
- Proof of earnings (P60 & 3 months payslips) if self employed: up to 3 years accounts / SA302s / HMRC Tax calculations and overviews.
- 3 Months Bank Statements
- Detail of existing mortgage / tenancy agreement (if applicable)
- Detail of any loans / credit cards / credit commitments
5. Research Conveyancing Solicitors
Your estate agent may suggest a solicitor or you can instruct your own. I chose to instruct one of my own choice as I wasn’t too happy with the reviews of the company already provided. It is worth having a look around, the solicitor I chose did an estimate online and there were lots of reviews from other first time buyers. Whereas the first one only quoted for a small portion of the total fees and had a fair amount of negative reviews. The total fees will cost you on average between £1000 – £2000. There are lots of breakdowns online or ask a friend who has recently purchased a home. This helped me legitimize the estimate I received.
6. Arrange House Viewings
Now you have a budget, decision in principle and documents ready to go, it’s a great time to start looking at homes. It’s good to have a plan prior to shortlisting options, what may be a non negotiable to me, may not be for you. Decide what is most important when it comes to your future home and what areas are you willing to compromise on? Do your research, look at different areas and what’s available at what price in each one. Knowing what other properties have sold for or are listed for can help guide you when it comes to making an offer.
7. Make An Offer
As a first time buyer myself, I am no expert in this area whatsoever. Speak to the estate agent and the agent who allows you to view the property. They may give you an indication into the sellers expectation of price. Depending on the market, this can move fast if there are multiple people interested in the property. Every situation is different, have a figure in mind of how high you would ultimately like to offer on a property, even if you make a low first offer.
8. Offer Accepted
Fantastic news, your offer has been accepted! Now you have your documents at the ready and decision in principle. It’s time to get the ball rolling and on your way to becoming a homeowner. My experience so far has been a little nerve wracking as you don’t know what’s coming next. Your Estate agent, Mortgage Adviser and Solicitor will request anything that is required for you to complete and return. Keep in mind, until you progress to exchange of the contracts and completion, the sale is not set in stone.
Are you looking to buy your first home in 2024? Let me know if you have any questions regarding the process. Looking for more information? There are tons of resources online, Youtube and Tiktok have been so helpful with the step by step process for me. Fingers crossed in my next update I will be sharing the final part of completing on a home. Happy New Year Everyone!