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Five things every first time buyer needs to know

Your guide to buying your first home

A couple moving boxes into their first home

Okay, so there may be more than just five things you need to know. But as you’re bound to be busy doing first time buyer type things, this is a shortlist of the things we think you should know when buying your first home.

Exciting isn't it? Your very own home – there's no greater…debt. Sorry to bring the mood down, but the best tip we can give you is to stick to a budget.

Be honest about your budget

There's no point wasting your time looking at properties way out of your price range.

Instead, concentrate on why you want to buy. You may be trying to escape the feeling that you're wasting money renting, or you're finally leaving the family home after years of careful saving. However you came to your decision, it's likely that this will be your home for several years. So think carefully about what you want from your budget and what you can realistically afford.

If you want more than your budget will allow, consider how you can achieve what you want. This may be investigating government schemes for first time buyers, speaking to a specialist mortgage broker, sharing with friends or family, or saving for a bigger deposit.

Once you've got your mortgage and overall budget in place, remember to allocate some of it for solicitor's fees, survey costs, stamp duty and home insurance.

Do loads of viewings

Even if a property lacks curb appeal, or is outside your favoured area, if it's in your budget, go and have a look. You'd be surprised by the number of flats that look dodgy from the outside, but are ideal inside.

This brings us to point three.

If it's in your budget, go and have a look.

Ask lots of questions

Try not to get carried away with first time buyer excitement. It's very tempting to fall in love with a property and get blinded by its failings. Before you put in an offer, research the area, take a good look at the brickwork, roof and windows.

Check for damp, ask about the boiler, even turn on taps and open kitchen drawers. Make sure it's worth your hard earned money. To help, we've created a free viewing checklist that's ideal for first time buyers.

The questions should carry on even after you've put in an offer. You're not committed to the purchase until you sign the contract and this takes place after a survey has been completed.

A survey is essential. Your mortgage lender will do a valuation of the property – but this is not a survey. They take a look to make sure that the property is worth the amount they're lending you.

The estate agent will provide you with a home information pack. This is also not a survey. The HIP provides information about land registry and title documents and about the state of the property.

You are the one who commissions a survey and there are several different types. These range from a home condition report, which is suitable for newer properties, to a full survey which gives you a comprehensive report on the state of the property. The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors has a great guide to surveys for first time buyers.

Be patient, buying a house takes time

Buying a home can take an age. When you put an offer in, it's not a done deal. You may decide to withdraw from the sale or the seller may take the property off the market.

So, if you're renting, don't hand in your notice until you're sure it's all going through. You could end up having to move twice in a month and put things in storage temporarily whilst the rest of the people in the chain get their ducks in a row.

Hang in there though - eventually the day will come to exchange contracts.

Buying a home can take an age. When you put an offer in, it's not a done deal.

You need buildings insurance

Get your new home insured straightaway. At the point you exchange contracts on your new home, you need to get it insured. If you don’t insure the building when you exchange, you could be in breach of your mortgage contract. Your solicitor will probably want to see a copy of your insurance at exchange.

And whilst you're at it, you should get your contents insured as well. Contents are only added to your policy from the date you move in and accidents that happen during moving are only covered if you're already insured with us. Better to be safe than sorry.

The only thing left to do now is put your feet up and admire your new home.

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