Buying a property for the first time is a real milestone in a person’s life. There is something wonderful about having a place to call home, a place that’s yours to make exactly how you would like it.
Is now a good time to get onto the property ladder? Marketwatch write that interest rates are falling, which is great news for buyers. However, they also note that property prices are rising. So if you wish to buy a home, don’t delay too long.
It’s important to make sure you are able to afford the costs that come with home ownership, which broadly fall into the following categories:
This is obviously a huge monthly expense. If you are lucky enough to have a large deposit your monthly outlay can be reduced significantly – not only will this reduce the balance of your loan but a larger deposit generally gets you access to preferable interest rates. It is crucial that you accurately calculate what your monthly mortgage will be and really give it a lot of thought as to whether or not it would be affordable.
I recently discovered a site called Pigly – there are dozens of really helpful calculators including this mortgage calculator. One of my favourite features about the mortgage calculator is that it allows you to stress test how affordable the mortgage might be in the future. By this, I mean you can play around with the initial and subsequent % rate adjustments. Although interest rates are low now, they will of course rise in the future so it’s really important to ask yourself if you would still be able to afford the mortgage if there was to be a rate rise.
These can vary massively between houses and between areas. Always research what the monthly tax outlay would be on any property that catches your eye. When we moved home a few years ago, despite the house we left and the house we moved to being roughly the same size, our council tax bill increased by almost £50 a month.
Repairs and maintenance
One of the perks of renting is that you are not typically responsible for repairs and maintenance, so it can come as a shock as a first time buyer when they have to bear these expenses. An emergency plumber in the middle of the night doesn’t come cheap! Some things, like repainting a shabby room, can be done without much cash outlay. But other things – like having to buy a brand new boiler – can be very expensive. It’s important to keep money aside in case of emergency. It’s also vital to have a good home insurance policy to cover the more expensive things that can go wrong.
The act of moving properties is expensive. You must factor in the cost of a removal company, plus potentially an end of lease clean. It’s definitely worth shopping around for quotes for these services as fees can vary massively.
Whilst not additional costs, you must also consider the following when buying a property:
School catchments – if you have or are planning to have a family, are you happy with the schools in the local area?
Broadband speed – are the speeds available sufficient for your needs? Especially in this new era where many of us find ourselves working from home. This can be a real problem with rural properties.
Crime – there are several sites online where you can input a postcode and learn more about the crime rate in the local area.
Commute time and ease – Google Maps can tell you how long it takes to get to and from work at the time you commute, which is really handy. It also shows you the various public transport and times. As this is a journey you may be doing hundreds of times a year, you need to ensure you are happy with it.