By Philip Macdonald, managing director of Abbotts
Most people have ambitions to own their own home. They may rent for a while because it’s convenient to have a degree of mobility when establishing a career path, but there comes a time when they are ready to settle down. Typically, by 35, the ‘nesting’ instinct takes hold, and with university debt likely to be paid off, and some savings set aside – the search begins. In today’s market, with property prices well below their peak, first time buyers may well be able to afford a bigger house or flat than previously expected. The days of 100% mortgages are long gone, so savings are essential – not just for the deposit, but for all the other costs associated with buying: conveyancing charges, insurance, removals, furniture and equipment, etc. Deposits are sometimes bolstered by the ‘bank of Mum and Dad’, or by friends buying their first home together. If you do this, make sure that there is a legal agreement covering all eventualities if one or other party decides to move on; also ensure that you have a joint household account into which you both pay to cover utility bills, repairs and any other joint costs. For any buyer, it is vital not to over-reach yourself financially, so setting a budget and sticking to it is the first criteria. If you can’t find the type of property you want within your area of search, spread the net a bit wider, whilst taking into account any additional travel expenses in setting the final budget. It’s often said that buying a run down property can bring a bigger return over time, and it often can, but only if you have the money to do it up properly. A botched job will actually reduce any future profit! Mortgage lenders may also make a ‘retention’ to protect their own interests if a lot of work needs to be done, so check out their policies before losing your heart to something requiring total refurbishment and/or structural work. Even if you merely want to repaint a few rooms, take the time to do a careful, quality, job and choose neutral colours; kitchens and bathrooms should also be refitted by professionals. Remember, you may need/want to sell unexpectedly (perhaps due to a job move) and inferior workmanship or bold interiors can make a property harder to attract a buyer at the best price. Extensions and structural works will require planning and/or building consents, so seek advice from the local authority, or you could face penalties, and, on resale, you will need the relevant certificates for the Home Information Pack. Home ownership brings responsibilities, as well as pleasure, so remember to be a good and considerate neighbour. Tell your neighbours if you’re having a party (and perhaps invite them?), or doing noisy building work, offer to feed a neighbour’s cat when they’re away or to put their bin out if they’re at work – this helps to build communities which keep an eye out for each other.
Philip is on 01284 704815