Buying a home is a balancing act between what we would like and what is available. Guide: Millennial First time Home Buying shows how to set realistic goals. You’ll find top tips on how to flat hunt as a newbie and buy the home that’s right for you. A home is arguably the biggest investment we’ll make in our lives.
And because it’s such a big deal, it’s also scary – particularly first time. Much is at stake. So here’s our Guide: Millennial First time Home Buying in which we show how to flat hunt as a newbie to the property ladder. First thing to think about is the financing.
Home buying – Have the Money ready, move fast
Have the money to ready to exchange, whether it’s a bank loan, cash or other means. This frees up energy and time to look for the perfect home – and you’ll need it. Where do you start looking?
First on the list is our dream area, the smart location where not only prices will go up and the right people hang out, like Chelsea, Tribeca, Christianshavn etc. That is mistake number one. Unless money is no object, making our dreams rule our heads as we flat hunt is a tricky choice given the large sums of money involved.
To zoom in on popular saturated areas feeds a short term wish. Yes we’ll be in the middle of the action, close to friends and the shops and restaurants we know or would like to hang out.
First Time Home Buyer – Prepare for a rough Ride
Stubbornly sticking to a specific area could cost us even more in the long run. Following our dreams or hopes without much due diligence could rob us of growth potential.
So Rule No 1 when you flat hunt as a millennial first timer: Follow your head, not your heart…too much. Remove as much emotion from the process as possible and write a list of factors which should guide you in your search. You will thank yourself later.
- Have your finances in order, mortgage or cash in the bank, ready for the someone to press the button so you can exchange & complete instantly
- Write 2 lists (or make a drawing) of the things you would like to achieve from moving into your new home and the things you know ought to be on the list, even if they are not your priority right now – such as transport links, potential for investment growth, where do you see yourself in 5 years etc…
10 Viewings, sometimes 100
Before estate agents start flooding your inbox with glossy images of flats and take you on energy zapping rounds of viewings…. and before you fall in love with one of them, the most expensive apartment which is just outside your budget, sit down and make a plan.
Falling in love with a flat is the last thing you want to do, but it’s the first thing that happens to new buyers. We’ve been there. Go on many viewing – better too many than too few. Become an expert – you’ll need to be!
A Warning – Day Dreams for First Time Homebuyers
You see a flat and think about so much you can’t sleep at night. You’ve worked out what furniture to get, the curtains, what floor you want (it’s the fabulous herringbone wooden floor like the one in the Paris hotel you stayed in a while back)…
This apartment is going to look perfect when you’ve moved in and worked your magic on it, you convince yourself. Except it’s called day dreaming and hopefully it won’t end up as an expensive nightmare. Fixating on one specific property may stop you from moving forward with realistic plans.
Where’s good to buy for the First Time Homebuyer? Transport is Key
- Find a station – or even better, a train line or bus route that goes through the station near your work, social hangout, family or another location important in your life. Then pick a station on that line.
- Pick a station just on the wrong side of a zone. It can be a difference of a few hundred yards, but prices will dip because the property market is in the “wrong” zone and the “right” side of the zone border is getting crowded. This is where there’s room for growth.
- As first time buyers get pushed further out of town, prices in your area will grow at a higher rate than normal. And you’ll still be just a few steps away from the station that leads you to the centre of town
The Viewings – Go to as many as possible, but ignore 90% of what you see
Flat hunt as a millennial first timer – but forget about Instagram. Forget about the decor, if the carpet is what you’ve always wanted or if the kitchen is a complete mess.
- Look at the property and imagine it without any of the furniture currently in it – the things owned by the current seller
- Focus on the layout and the shape of the rooms
- If you like the property, check the view, but also open the windows and check what’s right by the windows – any piping from neighbouring apartments, houses or restaurants (if so, that’s a red flag)
- If the TV is on or there’s music playing, ask the estate agent to have it turned down so you can listen for any noise, such as generators from commercial properties nearby, which will irritate you down the line
- If you still like it DON’T tell the estate agent. Hold your cards close to your chest – you may soon be in a negotiating situation with the agent
Carry on viewing if you think you’ve found the perfect home. A better offer could be round the corner and, besides, a deal can fall through at any stage.
Homebuyer’s First Offer
Before you put in an offer, do a search on the property with the local authority and online. Depending on what country you live in you may find out how much it was sold for last time. If the seller bought it recently – perhaps a developer flipping it quickly – the amount may not be online yet, but local authorities may have it.
Even when your offer has been accepted, carry on viewing. If the deal does fall through you may have found an alternative and even if you haven’t, you’re in the loop and the blow will seem softer.
And ask if the agent is sole agent or sharing with other agencies – and ensure they stop showing it to other prospects (unless they have a police to still show it, but find out) and place the property as being ‘Under Offer’.
First Time Home buying – The Exchange Process
Go for a good, established lawyer, a team with a good reputation. And keep in constant communication with them as they go through the process, negotiating points in the contract and lease and other things they find in searches.
And lawyers are used to paper work – lots of it. Be proactive with them as it’s key exchange is achieved asap – before anyone else comes in with a higher offer:
- Be proactive – get on the phone to lawyers and ask questions when you have any
- Lawyers’ by definition have to have everything in writing which can lead to them wait for the seller’s response to their queries, and wait, and wait…
- Prompt and encourage your lawyers to get on the phone, even if they tell you they have to get everything in writing
This is also the time when you could start mapping out the decor. Still, hold back on major purchases – such as new floor boards or curtains – because the could still fall through.
Completion – Congratulations, you’re a Homeowner
Now you’re on your own – the lawyers, the estate agent and the seller have all moved on to the next sale and you’re left with the keys. It’s the greatest feeling standing in your own home – check the fixtures and fittings are as they should be according to the contract.
Your lawyers may have withheld a small amount, around £600 depending on the purchase price. This money would cover small, unforeseen problems arising within the first year of living in the property. The Do’s and Don’ts of how to Flat hunt as a Millennial First Time Buyer – a Reminder.
Now you’re ready to decorate. Before we go, here’s a round up do’s and the don’ts of how to flat hunt as a millennium first timer:
I’m picky about where I live – should I wait to buy until I can afford to live in the right area? Yes and No. Yes if you’re absolutely adamant that the area you live in is the most important part of your life. But the longer you wait to invest, the more you miss out (in a market that is not stagnant).
Open you mind to other possibilities – no matter how set you are on a area, you may be pleasantly surprised by the opportunities arising from living in a different area. Be flexible – everything changes and your favourite area could suddenly become less attractive due to planning projects so moving to an area you never envisaged living in could become even more attractive. As a property owner, be prepared for the unexpected.
Some estate agents seem to have got a bad reputation – are they to be trusted or should I look online?
Estate agents are handy because you don’t pay for them, the seller does, but more importantly because they are a barrier between you and the seller.
Some estate agents are good and some are bad – when you go on viewings you will get a good feeling for each agent. Remember they work for the seller – they are not on your side however helpful. They are the ones who will be negotiating on behalf of the seller so keep your cards close to your chest.
Take charge and don’t rely on others to look after your interests – if you’re alert and looking after your own interests then that will override any incompetence on the agent’s part.
As a first time buyer, how would I know if a solicitor is any good?
Unless you have been through the process before, it is difficult to know. And unless you have connections or family and friends who can refer you to a reputable company, do your due diligence online.
Check reviews and speak to a few companies on the phone. Ask them to send you a proposal and compare.
The estate agent may suggest a firm of lawyers – and they will most likely pay the agents a commission, which sounds more dubious than it is and which they will let you know in writing.
This should not affect your purchase. A reputable estate agent will have good lawyers on their books and they will have experience of the area in which you are buying. Their role is to be on your side. However, the ideal situation is to hire lawyers you know to be very good.