Back in 2011, we bought our first home. I was so excited but I also felt pretty unprepared. I felt like I didn’t know what on earth I was doing. After everything we’ve learned, these are my 5 tips for buying your first home.
1: Be prepared to compromise
When you’re getting onto the first step of the property ladder, there’s always going to be things that you will need to compromise on. It’s all about prioritising the most important things you really don’t want to budge on and trying to be open minded about everything else.
There were so many things that we comprised on when we got our first home. Space was in seriously short supply, we were pretty unfamiliar with the area and the house needed a huge amount of work doing to it.
A lot of people would be seriously put off buying this property, and I can really see why. However, the appeal of living in a semi-detached house with a good size back garden, driveway and neighbours that seemed nice all sold the house to us.
2: Understand all of the costs involved
Don’t underestimate how much it will cost to buy your own home. Somebody once said to me years ago that buying a house is more expensive than you can ever imagine. I think she was perhaps being a little dramatic, although she was kind of right. I had no idea just how many things you have to pay for when you get your own house.
It’s such a good idea to carry out plenty of research before putting an offer in on a property. There will be solicitor’s fees, mover’s fees if you need help transporting all your possessions, insurance bills and so on. Then, when you own the house, there will be gas and electricity bills, council tax, water bills, the boiler will need fixing if it breaks, you might need walls and ceilings re-plastered and so on. The list just goes on and on, so make sure you’re prepared for all moving costs, renovating costs and ongoing bills.
3: Get organised before you move in
Our home was a fixer-upper. It was in such a bad way when we got it that we knew we had a project and a lot of work on our hands.
It takes so much time for paperwork to be dealt with, contracts to be exchanged and so on, that it can take what seems like forever to finally get the keys and be able to call a house your own.
When we were suddenly able to pick up the keys, I was completely unprepared. The house needed a huge overhaul and clean and I hadn’t bought anything I needed. This resulted in manic dashes to shops to pick up cleaning products, painting equipment and even toilet rolls!
I highly suggest making a list of all the essentials you will need as soon as you get the keys, so you don’t forget anything, and buying a supply of them in advance. This will make the first few days of owning your new home a little bit less stressful.
It’s also a really good idea to plan what food you’re going to eat for the first couple of days. It’s likely you’ll be super busy cleaning, unpacking and getting to grips with your new home to want to worry about cooking and buying food. For our first night in our new home, my Mum brought round a pizza to stick in the oven, so that we didn’t have to cook. You might want to think about arranging for a grocery delivery to be made pretty soon after you move in too, to make life easier.
4: Take your time
If there’s a lot of work that needs doing to your new home, it can be tempting to rush in and spend a lot of money trying to get it perfect ASAP.
I’ve found that over time, my tastes have changed greatly. When we first moved into our home, I wanted traditional decor. However, I’ve now moved much more towards preferring a more modern aesthetic. This is why sometimes it can be wise to take your time, especially if you’re planning to stay in your new home for a good few years. Paint the walls, of course that can easily be changed. However, I really would recommend doing some DIY to your existing furniture, cabinets etc while you wait to find exactly what your tastes are and how you plan for your home to look.
My parents often say they rushed a little into getting their entire home renovated and redecorated when they moved in and they wished they had taken their time a little more to get everything how they wanted it to be. Now that I have my own home, I see why they would feel that way.
5: Enjoy it!
Buying our first home was so exciting. Holding those keys in my hand for the first time and knowing that the house was ours was such an amazing feeling.
As with anything in life, going through the process of buying a house and running a household is a learning curve. There are things I wish we’d done differently and there have been issues along the way, but it’s never going to be plain sailing.
Do your research, get organised, be prepared for all the costs involved and enjoy becoming a first time buyer.
Let me know your thoughts and if you have any tips for buying your first home.