There are few times more exciting than finally getting your foot on the property ladder. After years of hard saving and financial consultancy meetings, when you have your AIP (where your mortgage is agreed in principle), you can finally start properly looking for your first ever home. But what exactly should you be looking for in a first time buy? Of course, everyone has unique tastes and criteria for their dream home – but there are certain features which are worth keeping an eye out for…
Location, Location, Location…
One of the most vital aspects to bear in mind is the location. A property may be exactly what you’re looking for, but those rose-tinted glasses may fade when you’re having to face long commutes to work, or find yourselves unable to face the long drive to visit friends or family as you live in a different area!
Apart from the practical logistics of distances to offices and your social life, there’s also local amenities to think about. What do you value living near? For some, it’s a decent supermarket or corner shop to make food shopping easier, for others it’s a good local pub, bar or restaurant. Some people adore the hustle and bustle of being in a town centre, others crave the calm of being near a river or quiet park. Create a list of factors that are an absolute must for you in a new area – and stick to it!
Leasehold vs Freehold
When house hunting for your first home, it’s vital that you understand the difference between freehold and leasehold properties. In short, if a property is freehold you will own the dwelling and the land it stands on; and if a property is leasehold you will own the dwelling, but not the land it is built on. Usually houses tend to be freehold, whereas flats tend to be leasehold (so that one flat owner does not own the land which all others are also built on!)
With a leasehold property, there will be an external party who does own the land, and the property will be sold on a ‘lease’ – a legal document which says how long you are allowed to live in the building. When the lease is up, the freeholder technically has the right to revert to ownership of the entire property, should they wish. But don’t be put off a leasehold property! Usual leaseholds are 125 years, with some being 999 years – which means the end of the lease could be hundreds of years away, so there’s no way the freeholder can take the property back. All you need to do when viewing leasehold properties is to ask how long is left on the lease – if it’s longer than the time you plan to live in the property, there will be no issues.
Finally, with leasehold properties, you will have to pay what is known as ‘ground rent’ and potentially maintenance charges to the freeholder. These are (usually nominal) fees which cover the costs of maintenance of any communal areas in the building, and a rent to the freeholder to rent the land which your property is built on.
The Great Outdoors
Gardens: they’re a big deal! For many, the size and quality of a property’s outdoor space is just as important as the interiors. Properties with gardens will, usually, come with a higher price, so it’s definitely worth considering whether a garden space is something which you consider a ‘must’. If you’d like a garden, but would prefer not to pay more for one, instead look at properties which are a walking distance to any beautiful local parks or green spaces.
If you’re looking to buy a flat, check if there are any communal outdoor or green spaces for the building – not only are these a perfect place to relax at the end of a day, but they also present a great opportunity to get to know your neighbours and build a community.
If you’re set on a garden, the next thing to think about is the type. Are you looking for luscious lawns and deep beds to put your gardening skills to use, or would you prefer a more low-maintenance garden with some space for entertaining guests? When viewing properties with gardens, the most important question to ask yourself is whether you would genuinely have the time to maintain it? The last thing you want is to come home to an overgrown, untidy garden!
Locations, leases and lawns – these are only a handful of the huge number factors to consider and decisions to be made when hunting for your first home. If you’re a first-time buyer and would like expert guidance from proven property professionals, get in touch with out friendly teams today.