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Homebuyers Checklist: What do you need to consider as a First-Time-Buyer ready to get on the Property Ladder?

Just thinking about buying a home can feel overwhelming but everything feels more manageable when it’s in a list, so here are 5 things you need to consider before buying a home.


1.     How much can you afford to borrow?


The starting place of all purchase considerations comes down to cost. The second consideration is value and making sure what you are buying is good value for money but value is irrelevant if you can’t afford it. I think back to every salesman who’s ever tried to rebuttal my polite ‘no thank-yous’ with all the reasons why my life will never be the same without whatever product they’re selling and me thinking, ‘that’s all well and good, but I can’t afford it.’

The property search is similar in many ways, a property might have everything going for it, the location might be perfect for your lifestyle and you may have already started picturing yourself living there, but if it’s way out of budget, it really isn’t worth the consideration. Often people make the mistake of looking at properties and getting down-hearted when their budget doesn’t match anything they’ve been considering, so understanding your affordability before you start searching for properties is key.


A rough way to check how much you can afford is multiplying your salary by 4.5 and then adding the deposit you’ve saved to that figure. This will give you a very loose idea of how much the property price could be when you come to search.

The best way, however, to come up with an exact figure before you start falling in love with properties that are way out of budget is to speak to a mortgage broker. Depending on your profession and deposit, lenders could be willing to multiply your salary by up to 5.5 and depending on your existing loans  your affordability could be considerably reduced. It’s never too early to speak to a broker and book in a free consultation so we can help you work out a plan of when and how you’re going to make home ownership happen.


2.     How much will you manage to save

Saving is the unavoidable hardship that can make all the difference to which property you are able to purchase. If you are not being gifted a deposit you will need to figure out how much you can save and how quickly you can reach the deposit pot needed, following your conversation with a mortgage broker. Three things to remember when it comes to saving:

  1. You can probably save more than you think.

  2. Your current spending may not be excessive but saving often requires a season of sacrifice, especially when you want to save quickly.

  3. You need to put your savings somewhere out of easy reach.


The best way to determine what you can save is to review your bank statements, I would advise having a cup of tea to hand to soften the blow of the cold hard truth of what you’ve been spending your money on. Give yourself a maximum of two mins for regret when you add up all the expenditure that could have been avoided, then channel all your energy into working out what you can give up forever and what you’d be willing to give up for a short while. Armed with your new resolve, separate your savings from your current account as soon as you get paid and be strict about not touching the money under any circumstances.

3.     What shape is your credit score in?

People often assume they cannot buy a home without having Excellent Credit and this simply isn’t true. Your credit score gives a potential lender a view of your relationship with debt and helps them to judge how likely you will be to pay them back should they lend you a mortgage.

It’s a bit like dating and allowing someone to scroll through your phone and read all your text messages before the first date. They’d get a better picture of who you are, and if they think you’d be compatible based on what they’ve gleaned. Some lenders only want to consider people who have great credit scores, but others don’t mind if you have a ‘bit of past’ if they can see that you’ve recently developed good habits, and some lenders are more than happy for you to have recent credit issues like defaults and CCJ’s.


Speaking to a mortgage broker will give you the best insight as to which lender will be the best fit and while you need to pay most brokers around £500 for this match-making service, they are worth their weight in gold. Mortgage brokers can save you money on your monthly payments and make sure you aren’t wasting your time applying for a mortgage with a lender that isn’t compatible. What price comparison sites won’t show you is the small print that can help provide a better picture as to who is the best fit for your financial situation.


4.     What are your ideal locations?

There’s a reason Channel 4’s Location, Location, Location has been around for over 20 years. Choosing the location that makes sense for you is a critical part of the homebuying process. The main things to consider are:

  1. Transport Links

  2. Schools

  3. Green Spaces

  4. Amenities

  5. Safety


Depending on what stage you are at in life, or what your investment strategy is, each item will have varying levels of significance. It’s important to consider your lifestyle and your budget and remember that distances on property portals are listed in straight lines so it’s worth actually walking the route to local amenities and transport. The closest station may only be 0.4 miles away but if you have to risk your life attempting to cross a dual carriage way to get there, it might be worth considering a property that is technically further away but a much shorter route with less danger.


5.     What is your investment strategy?

Contrary to popular belief, property investment strategies are not just for investors

Every property purchase is an investment and you need to think about what exactly you are hoping to achieve before you start looking.


Are you buying a forever home?

A home that can last the rest of time needs to be able to grow with you and be in a location you can see yourself in for a long time. This property needs to be able to accommodate for future children, pets, home offices and even studios depending on what your plans are for the future.


Are you buying a home you can rent out in the near future?

This home needs to be turnkey with access to amenities and good transport links. While you may like the idea of a property that you can add your personal touch to over time, renters want somewhere that's move in ready and ideally won't require tenants to have a car just to get around.


Are you buying a home you can make a quick profit from?

This is not going to be the prettiest listing that has recently undergone a refurbishment. If you want to add value fast you need to be willing to roll up your sleeves and get renovating, whether that's a new kitchen, loft conversion or ground floor extension. If you are looking for profit you need a home that still has potential that is yet to be realised.


It's important not to expect a property to be able to work for every single strategy. As a first time buyer it's unlikely your purchase will be your forever home so maybe you can compromise on location or the size of some of the rooms. If you are hoping to sell in a couple of years and just want to get on the ladder it's important not to get distracted by the newer looking properties that you can't add any value to. Think about what you are trying to achieve and weigh up how much each property measures against that.


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