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Michael Holmes, spokesperson for The National Homebuilding & Renovating Show (23-26 March, NEC, Birmingham), has some handy tips for first-time buyers looking to get on the the property ladder.
Before buying a first time property think about how long you will be living in it. Do your research and consider whether this purchase is part of a longer term strategy of climbing the housing ladder or just somewhere for the interim. If you are only staying for a short period of time, there should be a limit on how much money is spent on personalising your home. If you buy an old run down house/apartment there is no point prioritising the cosmetic details before focusing on the essentials such as rewiring, central heating and damp proofing. Furnishing can be done at a later stage once the building is habitable.
Buying a new home doesn’t just mean paying off a mortgage on a monthly basis. Budgeting is a key priority and additional fees must be taken into consideration. Initially, van removal hire could cost anything from £300-£1500 depending on how far and how much you are moving. It is likely that once you have ensured all the essentials are in place, you will have to invest in fixtures, fittings and furnishings such as sofas, curtains and tables. You might need to buy a toolkit (range from £20-£150) and paints (ranges from £4-£65 a pot) to undertake some DIY work. If you enjoy watching TV, a television licence is a must (£145.50).For broadband, phone and TV packages, expect to pay around £50 a month depending on your provider. There will also be gas and electricity charges (approximately £140 per month), water bills (roughly £23 a month) and council tax (around £180 per month) to consider. Contents insurance will prepare you for the inevitable and can add on another £240 per year depending on your policy.
Check to see if there are any government grants or assistance to help improve eco efficiency. The Green Deal offers households loans of up to £10,000 to support the instalment of energy-saving home improvements which will help cut fuel costs in the long run. There are also some regional local authority based schemes for new insulation particularly for empty homes back in use so contact your local council to find out what is on offer.
On a practical front you might want to consider living closer to work, family and friends but if you are only going to be living in a property for a short period of time, it might be worth stretching further afield if it means buying a home with potential. If you are flexible about location, it is beneficial to do your research and identify up and coming areas/ identify the next area of gentrification. You will often find that in these places, you will be able to get more for your money when buying a house.
New build properties are often cheaper to run as they are well insulated, eco-friendly and include double glazing, but they are often very small with little or no garden and minimal size rooms. They are sometimes constructed with plasterboard walls which don’t do much to prevent sound transmission. If you decide to purchase this type of residence, ensure that the developers are members of the National House-Building Council and maintain the latest energy efficient and security standards.
Period properties tend to be more spacious but you could incur higher maintenance and renovation costs. Victorian buildings for example are expensive to heat. The key is to undertake an extensive survey to understand the implications of the home you are buying before putting down a deposit.
Buy scheme, if you (and your partner) are earning under £60,000, first time buyers will be able to take out a mortgage for 75 per cent of the property provided that they can raise a five per cent deposit. However, be aware that when you come to sell your home you could lose out on any future profit potential as you will have to pay the loan back and hand over 20 per cent of the market value at the time of the sale.
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