Buying your first property can be daunting wherever you’re looking to put down roots, but snapping up a new home in London can present a whole host of different challenges which can be tricky to navigate, whether it’s your first, second or twentieth property.
While buying at Leon House may be a smooth a process – thanks to our incredibly helpful team who know this is one of the biggest decisions of your life – this isn’t always the case in the ruthless London market.
So, before bracing yourself for any whirlwind viewings, have a read of our top tips below to ensure you have a successful house hunting experience in the capital.
Narrow your search
When pinning down a perfect location, it can be overwhelming due to the number of factors in play – commuter routes, a sense of community and affordability.
As a starting point, try narrowing your search down to areas that are up and coming. Look at the investment and development going on in the area as well as the property prices and how these compare to prices a few years ago. Your first property should be somewhere that not only suits your needs right now, but that will appreciate in value and improve your financial prospects over time.
With that in mind, while perhaps not ‘the’ most important thing, a great location should of course cater to your current needs and offer what you’re looking for when it comes to achieving that work/life balance.
From convenient commuter links to bars and restaurants to enjoy in your leisure time, finding a location with a range of amenities is what most young Londoners are looking for. Croydon, where you’ll find Leon House, is a great example of a cosmopolitan hub that young professionals across the capital are flocking to. Thanks to its excellent transport links, stylish dining options and green spaces, the borough is proving a firm favourite for first-time buyers.
Secure a mortgage in principle
Wherever you’re looking to buy this rule applies, but it can be especially helpful in London where the market moves so quickly.
Once you secure a mortgage in principle and know what your budget will be, you will be able to search with far greater clarity and be confident that you’re not looking at properties outside of your budget.
It is also true that when a seller is comparing offers, the sale will probably go to the person in the most favourable position with the fewest number of hoops to jump through.
First-time buyers (no chain) often fall into this category, as do the buyers who have secured a mortgage in principle before setting up a viewing. Proof of a deposit and your mortgage insurance premium (MIP) can be a real advantage for some agents too. Ensure you have your mortgage approval in hand before you start searching.
Consider Help To Buy
Hopefully your mortgage provider will talk you through the option of Help To Buy but, if they haven’t, make sure you ask them to provide you with more details and how this will impact on your monthly repayments.
Here at Leon House, prices range from £340,000 for a one-bedroom apartment and from £428,500 for a two-bedroom apartment – both of which are available with the government’s Help To Buy initiative.
Help To Buy can make more luxurious properties much more affordable so don’t automatically assume you won’t be able to afford a new build or that an upmarket property might be out of reach. It can also be used if you are a second (or more) stepper, but this criteria will be changing in 2021 when new Help To Buy rules come into play.
Still assessing your options? See our guide on Help To Buy Vs Shared Ownership for an overview of the two different schemes.
Take someone with you
When you get to the stage of looking around properties – hurraay – but be aware things may move very quickly. The London market moves notoriously fast and house-hunters frequently find that properties are snapped up just a few hours after a first viewing.
For this reason, it can help to take along a friend or relative who can look around with an objective pair of eyes in case you need to act quickly. Having a friend there will give you the chance to chat through the property with someone (whose opinion you hopefully trust!) and give you that extra confidence when making a decision.
While the team here at Leon House would never rush anybody into a sale, this isn’t always the case so two sets of eyes when searching are always better than one. And while we’re at it – don’t be afraid to take photos as this can also help in your post-viewing decision making.
Have a little patience
You’ve put in an offer and set the property-buying wheels in motion – exciting! Have a little patience, however, as the process from having your offer accepted to actually getting your hands on your keys can take a little while.
It’s not uncommon for this phase of legal processes to take a couple of months. Time frames will also vary greatly depending on the type of property you’re buying and whether you’re entering into a chain. For example, an older property will usually require the owner to secure their own property before things are fully assured from your perspective.
New builds do differ from this respect since you aren’t dependent on the seller in order to make progress. This makes new properties ideal for house hunters who would rather not wait around for their home and are looking for a bit more certainty.