How would-be buyers can take first steps on the property ladder

Now that summer is over, many house hunters will be trying to get their feet on the property ladder. Photograph: PA
Now that summer is over, many house hunters will be trying to get their feet on the property ladder. Photograph: PA
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In autumn the property market starts to get going again after the summer holiday lull, and for many house hunters this will be their first step onto the property ladder.

Here are ten tips for would-be first-time buyers to make the process less daunting:

1. Save hard

Work out how much spare cash you’ve got left over each month and consider setting up payments to go straight from your current account into a savings account, to avoid the temptation to spend the cash.

2. Look at ways to boost your savings

First-time buyers can also boost their savings with, for example, a Help to Buy Isa or a Lifetime Isa, which come with bonuses. Generally speaking, the bigger the deposit you have to put down, the more choice of mortgage deals you’ll have, which could really help when it comes to making repayments.

3. Show you’re responsible

Building up a good credit history and showing you’re responsible with money will be important when it comes to taking out a mortgage deal, so if you’re not diligent when it comes to paying back debt, change your ways now.

4. Factor in all the costs

You may have thought about the deposit, but what about the other costs, such as removal firms, estate agent and surveyor fees, conveyancing costs and taxes? Research suggests home buyers typically underestimate their moving costs by nearly £2,000.

5. Put some spare cash aside

Rather than spending every penny, try to keep some money aside to start a “rainy day” fund. This will help if you suddenly have a big bill to pay rather than having to putting the cost on credit.

6. Choose your mortgage wisely

There are still plenty of low rate deals available, but it’s important to bear in mind the overall cost of the deal. While a particularly low rate may grab your attention, bear in mind any fees and charges that also come with the deal.

7. Target your area

Make the most of property pages in newspapers and websites to get an idea of what prices are like in your desired area, to give you an idea if what you are looking for is realistic on your budget. You may also want to target nearby up-and-coming areas, where there could be more wriggle room for the property you’re buying to increase its value over the coming years. This could help to boost your equity position when you’re ready to take your second step on the property ladder.

8. Get to know your local estate agents

Even if you aren’t ready to buy yet, it could be worth chatting to estate agents in the area to find out what’s available. A good relationship with your local estate agent could also help to keep you informed if your ideal home comes up.

9. Be confident about haggling

If you’re going down the haggling route, do some research first to help bolster your case and make sure what you’re asking is reasonable. Politeness when haggling could also help. But be prepared and have a back-up plan if the answer is no.

10. Be prepared to compromise

Whether it’s the location, the size of the property, or your new home being more of a “doer-upper” than you’d planned, a willingness to compromise could make all the difference when it comes to buying your first home. Even if your first home isn’t your dream home, at least it could be a step towards it.