7 mistakes to avoid when buying a house

If you’re about to take your first step onto the property ladder, here are seven mistakes to avoid when buying your first home
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  • If you’re a first-time buyer, you might be feeling both excited and nervous about getting a foot on the first rung of the property ladder and buying your first home. To help you get off to the right start when looking, here are seven mistakes to avoid when buying a house.

    Mistakes to avoid when buying a house

    Buying a property is a stressful time regardless, but avoiding these common mistakes should help to ease the strain.

    1. Not having an agreement in principle

    Before you start viewing properties, you’ll need to get an idea of how much you might be able to borrow from the bank or building society. This will help you to firm up your budget and find properties in your price range. It also means estate agents and sellers will take your offer more seriously.

    ‘A mortgage agreement in principle is a conditional offer on a mortgage, based on an income and credit check,’ explains Paul Wheatcroft, account director at My Local Mortgage. ‘You may be asked for one by a vendor or estate agent before even being able to view a property, to prove that you are serious.’

    You can also use our mortgage calculator to get an idea of how much you could borrow to help you get your mortgage in principle.

    semi-detached house exterior

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole

    2. Only looking at superficial details

    Even if a property looks amazing at first glance, it’s important to check for problems that might be expensive to fix. ‘Remember to check walls and appliances around the house to ensure that everything works as it should,’ says Wheatcroft.

    Check for signs of damp and rotten window frames, make sure toilets flush properly, and don’t be afraid to turn lights on and off to check the electrics.

    3. Not researching the area

    If you’ve found your dream home in a location you don’t know well, research the area fully before putting in an offer. After all, your potential new neighbourhood can be just as important as the home itself.

    ‘Check out the surrounding area and what the houses are like, look at the local schools, shops and facilities, and crime rate,’ says Rob Smith, head of behavioural finance at Barclays.

    4. Not negotiating on the price

    Once you’re ready to put in an offer, don’t be afraid to haggle down the asking price. It’s important not to go too low, but if you’ve done your research and found neighbouring properties have gone for less, you can use this to your advantage to see if the sellers will lower the price.

    5. Underestimating overall costs

    As a first-time buyer, it can be easy to focus on saving up enough for your house deposit and forget about the additional costs involved. But you’ll also need to budget for solicitor fees, survey and valuation costs, as well as home insurance.

    bedroom with balcony with monochrome wallpaper and yellow bedding

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole

    6. Not acting quickly enough

    If you’ve found a property you love and it’s within your budget, don’t hang around too long before putting in an offer. Overthinking things and weighing up your options for too long can result in you missing out on your dream home.

    7. Acting too fast

    On the flipside, you can also rush into a decision too quickly, particularly if you feel under pressure from estate agents suggesting there is already a lot of interest in the property.

    ‘Let yourself take the time you need to feel happy with your offer; you don’t want to feel pressured to make an offer or ultimately regret anything,’ says Smith.

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