Guide for First Time Buyers

The current property market in the UK presents both challenges and opportunities for first-time buyers. Here’s a summary of the key aspects affecting them:

  1. House Prices and Market Trends:
    • House prices are projected to fall between 2% and 4% in 2024. This is primarily due to inflationary pressures and a squeeze on consumer spending power, moderating the prices potential homebuyers are willing to pay​ (Home)​.
    • There has been an improvement in buyer confidence, with a 12% increase in homes going under offer compared to the previous year and a 32% rise in mortgage approvals for home purchases  (Zoopla) .
  2. Mortgage Rates:
    • Although mortgage rates are decreasing, they remain higher than the historically low rates of 2-3% seen a couple of years ago. Current rates are around 4-4.5%, which is impacting affordability for many first-time buyers​ (Home)​​ (Uswitch)​.
    • The average mortgage repayment has increased significantly, with an annual increase of £4,300 outside London and up to £7,500 in London since 2021​ (Zoopla)​.
  3. Financial Preparation and Government Schemes:
    • First-time buyers need to be well-prepared financially. The average deposit required is around £53,414, and securing a mortgage often necessitates a strong credit score​ (Uswitch)​​ (Farrell Heyworth)​.
    • Government schemes like Help to Buy and Shared Ownership can provide significant assistance by reducing the initial financial burden. Help to Buy is especially beneficial for those struggling to save for a large deposit​ (Farrell Heyworth)​.
  4. Economic and Policy Factors:
    • The Bank of England’s interest rate decisions continue to influence mortgage costs, and staying informed about potential rate changes is crucial for first-time buyers​ (Farrell Heyworth)​.
    • Government policies, such as stamp duty relief and changes in housing schemes, can also affect buying power and should be monitored closely​ (Farrell Heyworth)​.
  5. Market Dynamics:
    • There is a continued interest in suburban and rural properties, with steady demand in urban areas. This trend can influence the availability and pricing of properties depending on the location​ (Farrell Heyworth)​.

Overall, while the property market presents certain challenges, such as higher mortgage rates and the need for substantial deposits, the potential decrease in house prices and available government schemes can provide opportunities for first-time buyers who are well-prepared and informed about market conditions.

first time buyer

What follows is a quick and abridged guide to buying a property for the first time, even in the current market.

Save for a deposit

Having a deposit saved up is vital to the house-buying process. Most mortgage providers will require you to front up at least 5% of the property’s value. Nothing happens without a deposit – so the sooner you save, the better!

Save for hidden costs

Have a clear understanding of all costs required to purchase your new property. These hidden costs can include property survey costs and solicitors fees, and if you are lucky enough to afford a house in that price bracket, there could be Stamp Duty fees to pay.

You can read this article on the hidden costs of buying a house to avoid any nasty surprises should you find your dream home.

Improve your credit score

When applying for a mortgage, you will be vetted against several criteria, one important factor being your credit score. If you have a poor history of repaying debts – or even no history – you may not be accepted for a mortgage by any providers. There are simple ways to rectify this, though. If you have no credit history, taking out a credit card and using it sparingly can help. Poor credit history can be made good by paying off old debts.

Go in with friends

If even the smallest of properties prove to be outside your budget, why not pool resources with friends the same way you might rent together? Looking as a group for semi-detached houses for sale, as opposed to looking for one-bed apartments alone, can mean you get more space for less money – plus, you’ll find it easier to make the deposit.

Don’t rush into a purchase

Lastly, a bit of advice that could save you a lot of time and money in the long term: do not rush a house purchase. You can take several useful steps before registering an interest and signing a contract – one of which is a property survey.

Professional surveyors will examine the property from top to bottom for anything that may not have come up in the initial valuation, from damp to subsidence and other structural issues. At best, these can be easily fixed and even bring down the asking price. At worst, they could reveal a structural problem that is more expensive to solve than you can afford. But in the latter case, you can start looking again.

Happy house hunting!