New Year, New Home? Five Top Tips For First-Time Buyers
Life is full of big firsts. We all remember our first day at school, our first time behind the wheel and our first time putting the key in the door of our very own home.
The Liberty Insurance Group has been welcoming first-time buyers for more than a century. In that time, we’ve learned a thing or two about purchasing a property. With that in mind, we’ve put together five top tips to help guide you if you’re hoping to buy your first home in 2023.
You’ll Need to Make an Appointment With Financial Experts
If you’re thinking about buying a house, you’ll most likely need a mortgage from a bank. It’s a good idea to meet with financial professionals early so that you have a realistic picture of what you can afford before you start looking for a home.
Some people like to work with mortgage brokers, as they can help advise and guide you through the process. They’re not usually tied to just one bank, but it’s important to check.
Most banks will offer what’s called an ‘approval in principle’, which gives you an idea of how much you might have to spend. However, you’ll need to get formal approval before you sign any paperwork.
Don’t Forget all the Extra Costs
Your mortgage usually covers a percentage of a house’s purchase price. But as every homeowner knows, there are many more costs involved. These will likely include solicitors’ fees, a surveyor’s charge, stamp duty, and perhaps even auction fees.
It’s highly recommended that you take out home insurance. But you certainly don’t have to purchase it from your mortgage provider — companies like Liberty Insurance offer great value first-time buyers home insurance, with all the cover and care you need for your new home.
Once you complete the purchase (or ‘close’), you’ll usually have to furnish the property too. Costs can vary hugely depending on your needs and preferences, but it’s worth taking the time to work out in advance how much you’ll have to spend. Then of course, there are utility bills to look forward to, which might include an electricity connection fee, gas installation charges or other contract commencement costs.
While it can seem overwhelming, these costs are just part and parcel of the process. Setting up a simple spreadsheet or document will help you keep track of it all.
It’s Better to Search Online and Offline
Once you’ve got approval in principle and decided on your preferred location, you can begin the search for your first home.
There are lots of websites where you can view thousands of properties from your phone, laptop or computer. These include Daft.ie, MyHome.ie and Property.ie. They’re a great way to quickly narrow down your options, cycle through photographs and make contact with estate agents. Most sites offer shortlisting functionality, so you can select your favourites and review the advertisements in detail.
However, in the current market, many houses are selling fast. Sometimes there’s very little time between a listing going live and an offer being placed. That’s why it’s still a good idea to forge connections offline if possible. Estate agents are busy people, but it’s worth trying to get in touch with them by phone or making a quick visit to their offices. If they know you’re actively looking for a property in their area, they might think of you first when a new listing comes along.
Also don’t discount the power of word-of-mouth: many houses are bought and sold simply because of a chat in a school car park or local sports pitch.
Be Prepared to Move Fast
Decisions don’t get much bigger than buying a house. It’s a huge commitment in terms of time, resources and emotion. In an ideal world, we’d be able to take as much time as we need before placing a bid. Unfortunately, in the current market, that’s not always possible, as houses often sell in a matter of weeks rather than months.
While you should never rush into a purchase, you’ll need to be ready to move when the time — and property — is right. That means having your approval in principle in hand, keeping your paperwork up-to-date and storing your deposit in an easy-to-access bank account. You’ll also want to arrange a viewing in person as soon as possible, so it might make sense to save some annual leave for this purpose.
Take the Time to Enjoy This Special Moment
Buying your first home isn’t easy. It usually involves a long road of saving money, cutting back on costs and searching for a property that meets your budget and family requirements.
Once you get those keys in hand, take a moment to breathe and savour the moment with your loved ones. You mightn’t have a table, but if you have a kettle you can celebrate with a first cup of tea in your new kitchen. If you can, try to wait a few months before making any major changes to the house, as you’ll get a much better idea of the space, functionality and light as you live there, move around the rooms and watch the seasons change. Hopefully, you’ll be living in this home for many years to come, so it’ll be worth the wait.
In the meantime, you can set about adding your names to the electoral register, introducing yourselves to neighbours and perhaps even enrolling children into schools — building a life for you and your family in your new home.
Home Insurance With Liberty
At Liberty Insurance Ireland, we know how precious your home is to you, so we offer protection, peace of mind, and great value too. That’s why when you buy your home insurance online, you could get up to nine weeks free*.