top of page

First-time Homebuyer Mistakes to Avoid in the UK

If you aren’t surrounded by people ‘in the know’ buying your first home is a huge learning curve and the buying process can feel like a bit of a maze. The problem is, there’s no way of figuring out what you don’t know and we’ve all heard the horror stories of people that bought their first home only to be filled with regret. It’s a lot of money to part with, you want to make sure that your first home is also a sensible investment that fulfils  your short term living requirements and your plans for the future. To help you navigate this journey like a pro, here are the  three common mistakes first-time homebuyers often make in the UK and how to dodge them.


1. Not Checking the Length of the Lease


When you're buying a property in the UK, it's crucial to get your head around the difference between freehold and leasehold.


Freehold: You own the property and the land it stands on outright. Forever. No strings attached.

Leasehold: You own the property, but not the land. The land is owned by a freeholder, and you lease it from them for a set number of years.


Why Lease Length Matters:

Leasehold properties come with a lease term, which can significantly impact your investment. Leases under 80 years can be problematic for several reasons:


Mortgageability: Most mortgage lenders are reluctant to lend on properties with leases shorter than 80 years.

Costly Extensions: Extending a lease can be very expensive, and the cost increases significantly as the remaining term decreases. For example, extending a lease with 70 years left is much more costly than with 90 years remaining.


Tip: Always check the lease length before you fall head over heels. If it's nearing 80 years or less, think about negotiating a lease extension with the seller before you seal the deal.


2. Not Reviewing the Service Charge


Service charges are fees paid by leaseholders to cover the cost of maintaining and managing the building.


What Service Charges Cover:

  • Repairs and maintenance of common areas (e.g., roof, external walls, communal hallways)

  • Building insurance

  • Cleaning services

  • Utilities for common areas (e.g., lighting, heating)

  • Management fees


Annual Increases:

Service charges typically rise each year, and there is usually no limit on how much they can increase. This lack of protection means that future increases could be substantial, impacting your overall cost of ownership.


Tip: Review the service charge history for the property to understand past increases and anticipate future costs. Knowing these details helps you budget effectively and avoid unexpected financial strain.



3. Not Having a Survey Done


Getting a property survey is like giving your potential new home a health check. It can reveal hidden issues that might cost you heavily later on.


Types of Surveys:

Homebuyer’s Survey: A basic survey suitable for conventional properties in reasonable condition. It highlights significant issues that could affect the property's value.

Full Structural Survey (Building Survey): A comprehensive survey providing an in-depth analysis of the property's structure and condition. It's ideal for older or unusual properties, or those needing renovation.


Importance of a Survey:

  • Identify Issues: Surveys can uncover potential problems such as structural issues, dampness, roof problems, and other defects.

  • Informed Decision: Understanding the property's condition helps you make an informed decision about whether to proceed with the purchase and what repairs or maintenance might be needed.

  • Property Value: If the survey shows that the amount of work required doesn’t warrant the price you are paying for the property you can request that the seller addresses issues before completion. Alternatively, you can use the survey as evidence as to why you need to negotiate the purchase price


Tip: Always get a survey done before you commit. Pick the type of survey that suits the property's age, condition, and any specific concerns you have.


If  you have started looking at properties online or viewing them in person, steer clear of these common mistakes and save time, money and stress. Knowing where the potential pitfalls are and how to avoid them is the key to a successful property journey. For expert help guiding you every step of the way, book in a free consultation to discuss how we can help you get on the property ladder and make a smart investment.

113 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page