First time buyers return

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As signs suggest that first time buyers are returning to the housing market, the National Association of Estate Agents is reminding buyers - and especially first-timers - of what to consider when purchasing a home.

The NAEA’s market report for January revealed the biggest increase in sales to first time buyers in the last two years moving from 21 per cent in December 2012 to 25 per cent last month.

Mark Hayward, President of the NAEA, said: “In January, our members recorded a spike in the number of first time buyers entering the housing market. Buying a house is a huge undertaking but first time buyers are in a good position, with none of the complications associated with selling a house or being part of a chain.

“However being a first time buyer can still be a daunting experience, so it’s important that prospective buyers are clued up enough to make sure they get value for money.

“Asking the estate agent simple questions such as whether the property has had a structural survey, why the seller is choosing to move, as well as enquiries about hidden costs like council tax are an essential requirement.”

To help first time buyers gain a better understanding of what to look for when searching for their first property, the NAEA has the following advice:

Before you look

Prepare your finances: it is always a good idea to have your finances in place before you start looking at properties. Approaching an agent with a ‘mortgage in principle’ from your lender might give you an edge over other potential buyers and the estate agents will view you as a serious buyer.

Research the local area: sometimes local housing market trends vary from the broader national trends. A good local NAEA agent can help you identify trends in certain areas which can help in finding suitably priced houses for the area and sometimes even bargains. Once a property is found always take a walk around the local area surrounding the property, check for anything that may cause annoyance like any main roads or overhead flight paths that could cause a lot of noise pollution. Look at off-street parking and any planned developments as well.

During the search

Understand what is included in the purchase price: additional fees relating to white goods and removable furnishings are much more common in today’s market, and may even be used as a negotiating tool. Therefore it is vital to check the sales particulars to see what specifics are included. Generally, white goods that are integrated or plumbed in are included, but that’s not always the case.

Keep records: record details of any phone conversations, including who you spoke to, on what date and what was said. This will help to avoid any disputes further down the line if something you’d thought was agreed is later denied.

Decided to buy?

Don’t bid too low: offering a substantially lower price could increase the risk of being gazumped and could position you as a nuisance buyer who is not serious about purchasing. Make a sensible offer based on the guide price and be prepared to negotiate.

Make an offer: this can be discussed with the agent over the phone or in person at the estate agent’s office. If you have offered the asking price ensure that the property is taken off the market immediately.