How To Make Buying A House Less Stressful & Get What You Want, According To Experts
Getting on the property ladder is a goal for most millennials. But the reality of actually buying a house is tough. People find the whole house-buying experience more stressful than getting divorced, having a baby, or starting a new job, according to a new study by Vivo Property Buyers.] With most of us still struggling to save enough for a deposit while paying off student loans and sinking most of our pay cheques into rent, even with schemes like Help to Buy, it can all seem daunting. So if you're considered taking the plunge, there are plenty of ways to make buying a house less stressful.
The urge to own our own homes is as strong as ever — I personally want to host dinner parties and place scented candles on every available surface in mine. But the journey to getting those keys isn't easy. From finding somewhere within your budget to chasing up solicitors to trying to find your last three months' payslips to the unpleasant surprise of hidden fees, all while trying to stay focused on your day job, it can be ridiculously overwhelming. But there is good news. I've spoken to the experts to find out how to make the process as easy as possible (which actually is achievable). Here's what they had to say.
Create A List Of Must-Haves, But Be Realistic
How many bedrooms do you want? Do you want an old period property or a new build? Detached or terraced? What will your commute be like? Do you want to be near shops, restaurants, and friends, or pay less and live somewhere more remote? It's worth making a clear list so you can articulate exactly what you're after. It will save time in the long-run, and will help you eliminate things that aren't right. "Find areas where you can afford, where there are Help to Buy new build schemes and shared ownership," says PropertyChecklists.co.uk founder Kate Faulkner. "Remember, if you buy out of the area you want, it doesn't mean you can't move back in at a later stage."
Everyone makes compromises along the way, which is why it's worth knowing what your priorities are. "Be prepared to compromise. Don't give the agent a wish list, give them your minimum. You might be pleasantly surprised," Faulkner adds.
Do Your Homework
Look out for For Sale signs, talk to locals in the area, and have Rightmove notification alerts set up on your phone so you'll get notified about new properties in the areas you're looking in. Professional buying agent and housing expert Henry Pryor suggests, "Add on up to 20 percent more than you can afford, as 83 percent of homes sell for less than the asking price."
Also, have a few really great agents on the case. "Estate agents often have properties available that aren't on the internet or in their window," says Pryor. That said, he also reminds prospective buyers to "be wary of how much you tell estate agents; they work for and are paid by the other side, the seller."
Be Prepared To Move Quickly
If you want something badly enough, chances are someone else does, too. If you see the perfect property, be ready to act. Have all your ducks in a row, as the expression goes, understand the systems and processes, and make sure you're thinking one step ahead. It's also a good idea to have a legal company that is locally based.
Pryor explains: "Get a mortgage agreement in principle. You will also need a bank statement that shows your deposit funds. Find a lawyer who will act for you, they will need to meet you and formally identify you in order to open a file. They may also be asked to send a certified copy of your passport and a utility bill in due course when you have an offer accepted."
Have Your Finances In Order
Know exactly how much you have to spend, how much you can borrow, and where to go for your mortgage. If the house you're buying is in bad condition, bear in mind you may need to spend money in order to make it livable. Make sure you have all the paperwork sorted and when you think about what you can afford, don't forget to take any other costs into account, such as legal fees.
"Know your credit score and understand and make sure your deposit is available," Faulkner advises. "If you use Help to Buy or a lifetime ISA, you will need to negotiate a lower deposit, as you won't get a government top-up until completion."
Although it can be an emotional process, buying a house is a transaction like any other. "Be professional and courteous when dealing with agents and with sellers. If you don’t like their property, say so, and if necessary say why," Pryor says.
You should also remember that you are looking at someone else's current home. "If you want to take photographs as you look around, ask first, but this can save you having to come back again," Pryor adds. "Leave something on the table for the other side. You may want to drive the price down as low as possible, but leave the seller with some self-respect. The best deals involve some compromise — on both sides."
Know When To Walk Away
You should know your absolute upper limit. If the price is getting too high, you have to know what you can realistically afford, and walk away if it's too steep.
"If the deal isn’t right for you, then walk away," Pryor says. "The agent is paid to squeeze every last penny out of you, but it is the buyer who decides what a property is worth,."
Look After Yourself
This isn't so much an expert tip as a personal one. In times of stress, it can be easy to change your eating habits, lose out on sleep, and forget to take care of yourself. Here is your reminder that not only is doing so unhelpful, but will make you more likely to get sick, which is in turn, more stressful. So practice self-care — light a candle, make time for friends, have a bath.
Buying a property is never easy or straightforward, even if there is no chain. So brace yourself, because you probably do have a bumpy road ahead. Take all of this advice and remember, you will own your own home, you just need to be patient and trust the process.