With more agents moving towards virtual viewings as their initial way to market properties, it has never been easier to check out the housing market and what’s on offer. Some property market experts that are predicting that now might be a good time, if you are a first-time buyer, to consider making the leap onto the property ladder. So, what might you need to know?

What housing stock is out there or likely to come onto the market?

Zoopla, Rightmove and OnTheMarket are great places to start your search as well as checking local agents once you know where you might want to buy. In terms of properties for sale, it is possible that we will see buy-to-let landlords wanting to sell on vacant properties at the moment and this will add to the number of new properties coming forward for sale now that the estate agents are marketing again. We know that developers have reopened their sites for working and that they will be keen to sell to keep their rates of sale buoyant – you may well be able to negotiate some good incentives from the developer as a first-time buyer. WBW has acted for buyers on many of the large developments locally so please do contact us if we could help with any queries.

Interest rates

Interest rates are at an all-time low of 0.1% so borrowing money at the moment is relatively cheap. We know that many first time buyers choose to apply for a fixed-rate mortgage so that they know what their monthly mortgage payments will be and to avoid any uncertainty around possible interest rate rises. Whilst a fixed-rate mortgage does give certainty whilst the rate is set, it does mean that there will be repayment penalties potentially if you decide to repay the mortgage early on any sale so it is important that you pick the right mortgage for you and your medium / long term plans. 

Applying for a mortgage

If you would like to explore the options available, please do contact WBW mortgages and they would be delighted to help with an application from scratch or check any existing offer you have to see if they can find you a better deal by comparison. It is always important to have an independent mortgage advisor working alongside you to make sure you get the best deal as they can search the whole of the available market. This is particularly valuable now, especially if you are on furlough leave or have been furloughed during lockdown. If you do choose to apply for a mortgage, make sure you have all the paperwork you might need to hand – it is likely that lenders will want to assess that you can meet onward payments particularly carefully at the moment so be prepared to share your bank statements, wage slips and be able to confirm your usual monthly expenditure as part of this process. If you are planning ahead, why not look at your expenses now and try and iron out any `bumps’ in your monthly spend where you can? Maybe check your credit score, check and cancel unused credit or store cards and pay off outstanding credit card debt where you can? All of these things that evidence good financial `housekeeping’ are likely to help when lenders are looking at you as a potential borrower. 

Why not check how much you can borrow before you view – make yourself as attractive as a buyer.

A first-time buyer with the mortgage application `agreed in principle’ are always attractive to sellers as it means that any chain of transactions that they are involved in is likely to be shorter. Doing your homework and getting your finances sorted and clear really does help – sellers will want to know that you are organised and serious when you put in an offer.

Don’t forget the Government schemes available…

Help to Buy has been extended but make sure you check the detail of the scheme and that it will be a good option for you – the Government guidance on how the scheme works is here  ttps://www.helptobuy.gov.uk/. If you have a Help to Buy ISA, make sure you use this to the maximum potential. If you missed the deadline to apply for a Help to Buy ISA, maybe consider a Lifetime ISA as a vehicle to save towards your first home, https://www.gov.uk/lifetime-isa.

How much deposit do I need?

Our mortgage advisors will be able to look for products to suit your individual needs and part of this will also be how much of your own savings you intend to invest in the property. The usual rule of thumb is that the more of your own money you can invest, the better the mortgage deals that will be available to you. A seller would usually expect you to be able to put provide 10% of the value of the property as a `deposit’ but some sellers will accept 5%. You will need to let us know as soon as you can if you are expecting to invest less than 10% of the capital yourself so that we can check that your seller would accept this at a really early stage to avoid any delay or disappointment later in the transaction.

All of our offices at WBW have been open throughout lockdown with our specialist conveyancers supporting our clients to ensure that their transactions are progressing as smoothly as they can during this difficult time. We are happy to help with any enquiries that you might have – do just get in touch