Guest Blog: Buying Your First Home after Lockdown
By Andrea Fawell, sales and marketing director, Kebbell
Buying your first home is always an exciting but daunting task. There are a million and one things to remember and to do, and the pressure is on to get it right, but the pandemic has made things more complicated as the house buying process has slowed for many during lockdown and the way we view houses has changed. Andrea Fawell, Sales and Marketing Director of Kebbell, tells us her top post lockdown tips for first time buyers to ensure a smooth process.
WHAT HAS CHANGED BECAUSE OF THE PANDEMIC
- The pandemic may have changed what you want. The demand for a suitable space in the home to work from and access to outdoor space have significantly grown since the pandemic began. Can you widen your net a bit if you think you will be mostly working from home? Consider whether you have any new priorities that you might not have thought about pre-pandemic. Think about your passions and hobbies. Do you want to be close to cycle routes or a park for your dog? How much garden space do you want?
- Conduct extra online research. The ongoing pandemic has meant that many property developers and estate agents are upping their online presence including adding more detailed descriptions of properties and information about neighbourhoods, an increased the number of photos, virtual tours and even drone footage on their websites. Reduce the legwork by doing a lot of research online before booking any viewings.
- Viewings are different. The number of people allowed to view the property is often limited to two at a time, and you will need to maintain a two metre distance, wear a mask and avoid touching things in the house where possible.
- Properties are going fast. Certain types of homes in particular areas are in great demand because of the Stamp Duty Holiday and the Help to Buy Scheme changes. So you need to act quickly when you find the one! Ten homes were snapped up before our Show Home even opened on the fourth phase of our Scarborough development, Cornelian Fields.
- It is taking longer. Solicitors, surveyors, local authority searches and mortgage offers are often taking longer than normal. From reservation to exchange is now regularly taking three to six months instead of the previous norm of six to eight weeks because of the huge surge in transactions.
LONGEVITY – GIVE IT CAREFUL CONSIDERATION
- Think about the longevity of the area you are looking at. What are you going to need from your house in the next five to ten years at least? Moving is expensive, so even if having a family or changing your job feels light years away, consider the schools in the area, whether it has good transport links, what your future commute could be and if there are local shops and facilities nearby such as playgrounds, sports centres and clubs. Your new home is an investment, so you want to be somewhere that is up and coming.
- Consider future planning permissions. Does your property have potential to expand if needs be? You can look into planning permission in advance if you’re looking to do a loft conversion or extension in the near future. Your estate agent or developer should be able to give you some planning information, so remember to ask them about this in advance.
- Sort out your finances. Get your deposit together and draw up a realistic budget with a mortgage advisor. Be sensible about the amount you are borrowing, make sure your monthly payments are feasible and be practical about job security during this volatile time.
- Be paperwork prepared. Choose reliable solicitors and make sure they have all paperwork on time. Get all your details ready from utilities companies and choose your movers in preparation. All of these things will help you move more quickly and make sure the process is as smooth as possible.
- Build a relationship with local estate agents or developers and let them know what you are looking for and to remember you if a suitable opportunity comes about.
- Start to emotionally separate yourself from your current home. If you are living in rental accommodation, put away family photos, sentimental ornaments and magazines to offer a blank canvas to potential new tenants. Declutter, declutter, declutter! Prepare to leave your current home and start thinking of ways to create a stunning show home in your new home.
- If you have exchanged but are waiting to complete, why not ask your developer or estate agent if you can take some measurements so you know what size of sofa, curtains and fridge etc. you want to buy, to be ahead of the game.
WHAT SCHEMES CAN HELP?
- The new Help to Buy equity loan comprises a loan for up to 20% of the cost of your newly built home, so you only need a 5% cash deposit and a 75% mortgage to make up the rest. The loan is interest-free for the first five years. The scheme applies to new build homes only and the house must be the buyer’s only property and the buyer must be a UK resident.
- Help to Buy ISAs – Choose a Help to Buy ISA to save for your first home and get a 25% Government contribution worth up to £3,000 once you have saved at least £1,600.
- A new mortgage-guarantee scheme will help people with five percent deposits on to the housing ladder by persuading lenders to provide mortgages to help buyers purchase properties worth up to £600,000. The Government will offer lenders the guarantee they require to provide mortgages covering the remaining 95 percent.
- Ground rent legislation changes. Existing leaseholders will be able to extend their lease by 990 years whilst previously flat leaseholders could extend by 90 years and house leaseholders by 50 years. New apartment buyers will no longer have to pay ground rent to the freeholder from Spring 2022, but the Government is expected to make further changes to the leasehold system as a whole. The new legislation has removed the fear of developers charging rent on a house the buyers own and gives the industry more credibility.