Useful Information for first time buyers

So, you think you’re ready to move into your first home? There’s so much to remember and you won’t want to forget a thing. In this section we offer useful information for you as a first-time buyer, to ensure a smooth and successful journey to getting onto the property ladder.

Homebuyer’s checklist for a smooth journey

Don’t have a checklist for moving into your first home? Luckily we’re here to help and you can check out the following to ensure you don’t forget any of the finer details.

Are you ready to buy your first home?

  • Have you saved a large enough deposit? Government ISA schemes can help you top up your savings.
  • How much can you afford each month? A mortgage calculator will help you work out how far your salary will stretch. Don’t forget to include your ongoing bills into the equation.
  • Compare a number of mortgages to make sure of getting the best rates.
  • Have a mortgage in principle agreed before viewing properties, as this will put you in a stronger position.

What should I do when looking at properties?

  • Consider your ‘needs’ and ‘would likes’ to draw up a list of what you’d love from your first home.
  • Think about your budget, the space you need and the location you want to live. This could be for commuting to work or even being close to good schools.
  • Pop into a local estate agent, meet the team and get your name registered as ‘actively looking’.
  • Bring a friend or family member along to view properties, who may be able to offer advice from their buying experience.
  • Ensure the three stages of the Home Report have been completed by the seller.
  • Ask to see an Energy Performance Certificate for the property. These are normally supplied as standard, and highlight how eco efficient the property is.
  • Find out if the property is leasehold or freehold.

How do I make an offer for a property?

  • Research property prices in your area and consider how long this property has been on the market for. This could help you with haggling.
  • Show the buyer proof of your mortgage in principle, which could elevate you above competition. Without a chain behind you, this should also put you in a better position.
  • Contact the estate agent to submit your bid. Legally, estate agents must inform the seller of every offer that comes their way.
  • Once you have an offer accepted, instruct a solicitor to start acting on your behalf. They will arrange property searches, transfer of deeds and set a completion date.

What should I do on moving day?

  • Completion is usually around midday and you’ll be able to pick up the keys for your new home at the estate agents or solicitors.
  • Make sure to have a removal company lined up, or rent a van for transporting your belongings to the new property.
  • Let the utility companies know you’ve moved in, so you can set-up water, electric, gas, council tax and other essentials.
  • Ensure the remaining balance owed to the solicitors is paid on time to avoid any delays. They’ll arrange stamp duty and other fees.
  • Keep all your vital items on your person to avoid them being lost – including passports.
  • Remember your pets and have a plan for arranging their travel.

Final advice & tips when moving into your first home

Throughout this resource we have packed in plenty of useful information for first-time buyers and to wrap things up, we have provided some final advice and tips as that big move day draws closer.

Even after your contracts have been signed and exchanged, there’s no need to rest on your laurels. You still have plenty to do to ensure the move itself is seamless and goes to plan. By taking a look at the following tips, you’ll be able to ensure the whole process is as smooth as possible:

Before the day:

  • Ensure everything’s packed up before moving day, saving you last minute stress. Remember to leave out anything you’ll need for the few days leading up to the move though.
  • Clean out your cupboards and switch off the fridge and freezer – so it has time to defrost before transportation.
  • Think about asking a friend or relative to look after any children or pets you have.
  • Write a checklist of your bills, so you can notify providers of your address change. Don’t forget banks and building societies too.
  • Keep all your important documents in a safe and easy-to-find place – including your passport and birth certificate.
  • Round-up all sets of keys you’ve dished out over the years – so you can leave them behind.
  • Organise for a removal company to take your belongings to the new address (although this should be booked a few weeks prior).

On the day:

  • Pack up the things you’d have been using in the days leading up to your move – including toiletries, clothes and bedding.
  • Remember the appliances and disconnect those you won’t be taking along.
  • After everything has been loaded onto the van, perform one last sweep of the property to ensure nothing has been forgotten.
  • Lock up the doors and drop off your set of keys to the estate agent.
  • Once you’ve arrived and all your belongings have been uploaded, relax, grab a takeaway and have a deserved drink – the unpacking can wait.

After you’ve moved in:

Once you've moved in, sort out any issues with utility providers as quickly as possible. It'll help you feel more at home if you have your usual facilities available.

  • Check that all of the fixtures within the property are working, including heating, hot water system, kitchen appliances, lighting and showers. If there is anything wrong, contact your solicitor immediately as you will have 5 working days to raise the issue with the sellers. Also make sure that anything you negotiated as part of the sale is actually there, like curtains and blinds.
  • Unfortunately, there is no law to make sellers leave a property clean and tidy. However, they do have to remove all their own possessions. If they don't do so, and you incur costs in doing this yourself, you can speak to your solicitor about claiming the costs back.
  • If you've bought a new build property, there may be minor defects in the construction, called "snags". Create a list of these and submit it in writing to the developers. You can do this as often as you like for the first two years. There are also professional companies who can create snagging lists for you.

Packing tips

When it comes to packing up your belongings, it’s important never to underestimate exactly how much you have. Even the smallest of flats accumulate plenty of furniture and furnishings, so plan to start the packing process well in advance of your moving date.

If you’ve lots of large furniture to take over to your new property, you’ll likely need the help of a removal company. Contact a few of the local firms near you and compare prices to get the best quote available. Book a removal firm in advance, to ensure you don’t end up paying a large premium last minute.

Some removal companies may want to pop round before the day to check how much needs to be moved. You should warn them on any particularly valuable items and ensure the insurance covers your belongings.

On the other hand, if you don’t have a great deal of furniture to transport, you could consider asking friends or family to help. Hiring a small van for the day is an alternative option.

  • In the weeks and months leading up to your move, start compiling boxes, newspaper and bubble wrap (for protecting your breakables).
  • When packing, you’re likely to discover a number of belongings you no longer have use for. Consider throwing them out or donating to charity, rather than letting them clutter your new property.
  • Start packing your non-essential items first. These are likely to be books, CDs, DVDs and out of season clothes.
  • Have an essentials box packed to one side, including tea, coffee, snacks, cleaning products and toiletries. When you first move in you’ll want this to hand - rather than having to search through piles of boxes and bags.
  • If you’ve heavy items, pack these in smaller boxes. They’ll be easier to carry and you’re less likely to cause personal injury.
  • Wrap all your valuable items in newspaper or bubble wrap, to protect them during the move. This would include cups, glasses, plates etc. You should also mark your fragile boxes as so.
  • Try to pack rooms one at a time and label each box. Your friends, family and even the removal team will then know where the box should be stored.