So, you’re sick of sky-high rents, lazy housemates making your shared house a tip and watching your friends move into their dream homes one by one. You’re starting to think “maybe it’s time to finally get on the property ladder.”
Yeah, we know — easier said than done.
If you’re one of the lucky ones who can afford to invest in a house right now, there are probably a couple of things you should know before you put money down on that old barn conversion project or settle for a roof that can’t possibly be as leaky as it looks.
Whether you’re familiar with purchasing property or making your first foray into owning a home, here’s the ultimate guide to things millennials need to know before they buy a house.
Don’t dive in: review your finances
Ice cream on a hot day? An umbrella when you get caught in a thunderstorm? Some gum before a date? These are all good examples of snap purchases. A house? Not so much.
Before you even load up your favourite property site and start searching, you need to have a clear picture of your current financial situation and the present landscape of the housing market. It’s vital you get yourself in a place of financial strength where mortgage lenders and estate agents will take you seriously.
While many of us are held back by insurmountable student debt, there are also a good portion of us who have outstanding debts and bills that we can pay off. This will dramatically improve your credit score — an important factor in scoring that mortgage from the bank. Here’s a list of great tools you can use to check your score.
Find areas you’d like to live in and compare the asking prices within them with your existing finances. Getting a mortgage usually requires you to have 10-15% of the total capital needed in savings. So don’t turn up to the mortgage interview empty-handed.
The buying process can take up to six weeks to complete (and often longer) — so there’s no need to rush into anything. Taking your time allows you to scope out the most affordable areas and ensure you find the dream starter home.
View as many houses as possible
So you’ve taken it slow working out your finances, but that doesn’t mean you have any catching up to do. If anything, the viewing process should be approached with just as much caution.
Finding your dream house is the easy bit — the hard part comes in getting an offer accepted.
The worst thing a first-time buyer can do is fall in love with the first house they view and start picturing their life there. Yes, you need to be quick off the mark to secure a property, but that doesn’t mean you should A) settle or B) get so carried away that you start buying curtains.
It’s crucial to have a great line up of back-up properties to view and that you remain open to the idea of visiting as many houses as you can. Explore all available options, especially if you’re buying as a couple and clash over a couple of key details. Your next viewing might be the one that convinces your partner you need a garden, or sways you towards two bedrooms over three.
Yes, it’s tiring up estate agents and trudging over town looking for the perfect property — but it’ll all be worth it in the end.
Buy in a seller’s location
Getting on the property ladder isn’t just about finally owning your own home. Smart buyers understand that putting yourself in a strong position to sell down the line is just as important.
When putting in an offer you shouldn’t just visualise your future there, but how it will help fund your next home and the one after that.
Ask yourself — “what role does this property play in getting me up the ladder?”
The most successful first-time buyers will tell any would-be millennial homeowner that finding a place for a good price and flipping it for more money down the line — that you can invest into a better home — is the real key to real estate success. The last thing you want is to be stuck with a home you can’t shift and knocks you down a few rungs.
Price rise history, location and potential for work all factor into this. So try and have a more holistic view of what you’re getting into before you argue about what colour to paint the walls (maybe try communicating, guys).
Question and compromise
Perhaps the two most important words when buying a house.
House hunting is about having a checklist of essential questions and a couple more you make up on the fly. However, you will sometimes have to compromise on those questions and your own personal ‘must-haves’ list.
You’re never going to find the property of your dreams. Not only does it not exist, but it’s probably already been snapped up by someone who can afford to go big on their offer. Finding the right house is about settling on a place with potential and something that catches your eye in a way you never expected.
To do just that, you need to come armed with questions.
Ask about the history of the house, the way it’s developed over the years and how the local area has changed. You need to get a picture not just of what you immediately see when you walk into a house, but what’s lying between the walls and whether or not this is an area you can grow and eventually sell in.
It’s cliché, but you need to shop with your head, not your heart.
By the time you get the final box in and plug in the kettle for your first move-in brew, you’ll be questioning little things all over the house.
Don’t fret though. Even the most experienced buyers struggle with the same issue and there’s only so much you can learn without making mistakes. The best you can do is be thorough in your process and ultimately enjoy the hunt.