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Great 'What I wish I’d known before I bought my first home' Hunt

MSE_Jenny Posts: 1,312
First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
MSE Staff
edited 26 January 2010 at 6:51PM in House buying, renting & selling
We want MoneySaving homeowners’ pointers for people buying their first abode. Is there something you've learnt along the way that you wish you'd known before?

Whether it's estate agents & surveys, kitchens or dry rot, impart your wisdom for the benefit of first timers. What's your best advice for those hunting for a first pad?



  • pingu2209
    pingu2209 Posts: 246 Forumite
    Assume you will need to sell it on quickly. Don't just look at what is right for you, look at resale as well. You may not mind being on an A road or next to a motor way but the majority of others will.
  • Use a well regarded local solictor, via family/friend recommendation.

    Do not use solicitor or mortgage advisor tied to the developer/Estate Agent.

    For off-plan new-builds, always ensure your solicitor has protected you from the ramifications of a delay in completing the build.
  • Always do a second and even a third viewing at other times of the day/evening. Buy with your head not your heart and always get a full survey done. I know sooo many buyers that have had issues that could have been flagged before completion.
  • keep your sense of humour

    1 small job can lead to multiples

    don't mess about with council tax, they will catch you

    have some savings to fall back on

    always get 3 quotes for jobs that need doing

    rope in friends and family as that can help on costs

    get to know your neighbours, they can be a source of very useful info about your house and the neighbourhood

    my mum always used to say splash out on the underlay, scrimp on the carpets.don't know if thats true but i have done over the years.

    thats all for now.

    it'll be interesting reading this thread
    2010 challenges
    Saving £8k to add to house deposit - done:D
    8000/10,200 done 28 April (started jan 1 2010)
    Lose 2 stone/ -5/23 to go
    Sell our house and buy another one
  • Ulfar
    Ulfar Posts: 1,309 Forumite
    Don't ever trust anything said by the vendor or estate agent, they are trying to sell. If you have any queries get the answers in writing.

    Always get a full survey.

    Assume the worst, especially when it comes to boilers and electrics.

    Never buy a property that has had major damp or dry rot problems.

    Don't fall in love with a property.

    Don't pay too much for a property.

    I could go on for hours but I have covered the major ones for me.
  • kmmr
    kmmr Posts: 1,373 Forumite
    understand that the exchange to completion process always takes longer than you think, and will be very stressful at the end. But once it's finished, you forget about it immediately!
  • chodges84
    chodges84 Posts: 166 Forumite
    That location has the biggest impact on my quality of life.

    I never thought I'd say it, and its taken me a long time to realise it but despite having lived in many amazing houses in many places I'd actually pick the location first now and even settle for something ordinary that I would previously never even have glanced at.

    So my advice is to work out what environment would make you really really happy and then pick the house that's in it.

    I agree 100% with this. We looked around bigger houses in 'lesser' areas and I knew I couldn't be happy there. In some cases we could have had extra rooms/bigger gardens, but I would rather a smaller house i a better area.

    I would add to allow your self a bigger budget for surveys and solicitors fees in case sales fall through. We've lost £500 on a mortgage fee as we haven't found another house in time and £150 solicitors fees. On top of that we will now have to pay stamp duty when we do find a place. If you also have a bad survey and the seller won't drop the price, you may lose £400-£700 a time in survey costs,so budget for 2 or 3 of these, especially if you are looking at older houses.

    If even 1 sale falls through you could need another £1000-£1500 so keep this as a contingency. (Even though I'd sort of budgeted for it, its still a hard pill to swallow seeing all that money spent on nothing)
  • Kyrae
    Kyrae Posts: 541
    First Post Name Dropper First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    Things i've recently learnt from buying a new build...

    1. Try to avoid using the builder's recommended mortgage brokers or solicitors, find your own based on recommendations of friends and family.

    2. There's always a chance that the house will take longer being built than expected, so make sure you're prepared. If your mortgage offer could expire before the house is built, ask your solicitor about putting in a long stop completion date or a clause in the contract allowing you to pull out if you cannot get a mortgage when the house is built.

    3. There's no harm in making an offer lower than the asking price. If the builders aren't willing to drop then try and get some freebies thrown in like carpets and vinyl, turf for the garden, stamp duty paid, etc.

    4. The builders will offer you optional extras like white goods, fitted furniture, etc, but beware they're usually over priced. Do your research and you can probably find much better deals elsewhere.

    5. Don't let the builders rush you into exchanging contracts, take your time to read through the contract with your solicitor and if you have any questions then make sure you get answers before signing anything.

    6. Hassle your solicitor as frequently as needed, you're paying them so you have every right to ask them as many questions as needed, and if you haven't heard anything for a while then ring them and ask for updates.

    7. Might seem a strange one, but if you're planning on keeping chickens, parking a caravan or boat on your drive, having aerials or sky dishes, building any outbuildings, or even a conservatory, then be prepared that there may be restrictions on this in the contract. Eg. Ours says no chickens, boats or caravans, and outbuildings and conservatories only allowed with the builders permission... which they charge you a 'reasonable' fee for. See if they'll give permission before you sign the contract and you might save some money.

    Hope that helps! :)
  • SailorSam
    SailorSam Posts: 22,754
    Combo Breaker First Post
    When i bought my first house it had yellow lines outside, but i thought i'm out early of a morning it'll be ok.
    Going to work one morning before 8am i had a ticket
    I started to park in the next street, one monday morning off to work, no car. I phoned the police they said, yes is it a white one it was stolen on Friday night, we've found it, it's a right off, move it off the road or we'll charge you.
    The police knew all weekend and not been to tell me.
    So the next time i moved i didn't care what the house was like, as long as i could park on the path.
    Liverpool is one of the wonders of Britain,
    What it may grow to in time, I know not what.

    Daniel Defoe: 1725.
  • seven-day-weekend
    seven-day-weekend Posts: 36,755
    Name Dropper First Anniversary Photogenic Combo Breaker
    edited 20 January 2010 at 8:59PM
    We bought our first home in 1976 when we were in our 20s.

    We wanted a Victorian terraced house with an attic, a cellar and a garden, so that was all we looked at in the house.

    The vendor said that the house had suffered from damp and the wallpaper had come off, but he'd fixed it (after we'd moved in we realised he'd nailed the wallpaper to the wall).

    It was carpeted throughout in bottle green long pile carpet. And the walls were covered in pale pink woodchip.

    We loved it. We bought it. We still have it.

    In 2004 we bought our house in Spain. It ticked some of our boxes but we bought it because of the view. Never mind the rat's nest in the second bedroom.... Or an actual dead rat in the storeroom..... Or the light 'fittings' hanging from hooks in the ceiling...... Or the infestation by carpenter bees in the 120 exposed beams.... The view was to die for.

    So we have actually learned nothing in thirty years about buying houses.
    (AKA HRH_MUngo)
    Member #10 of £2 savers club
    Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology: Terry Eagleton
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