Top tips for London's first-time buyers

First-time buyers in London face bigger challenges stepping onto the property ladder than anywhere else in the country.

With the average deposit for a first-time buyer currently at 65 per cent of household income, in London it is 132 per cent, or the equivalent of more than £82,000. But having enough money for a deposit is only half the battle. You also need to find, and then secure, a suitable property. But there are ways to make the process easier – the following tips will help you get on that elusive property ladder.

  • Before you do anything else, make sure all your finances are in place. Meet a mortgage broker or speak to your bank to get a mortgage in principle arranged. From a seller's perspective, offers that come from buyers who can demonstrate that they are in a position to proceed with a purchase will always be more desirable.
  • Instruct your solicitor to act on your behalf and get them to do all your identity checks, so they're ready to roll as soon as you make an offer. Again, this will demonstrate that you’re a serious buyer.
  • If you can, physically visit or at least call estate agents in your desired area. Make sure they know who you are, precisely what you’re looking for and what your budget is. That way you’ll be top of their list as new properties come onto the market – you might even get a heads up on something that's just right for you.
  • Consider looking at properties under your maximum budget. Then, if you fall in love with somewhere that has interest from other buyers, you’ll be in a position to be more competitive with your offer and to increase it if necessary.
  • Don’t dismiss properties above your budget either. If you have everything in place, and can genuinely demonstrate that you can proceed quickly, a seller desperate to move fast could well be open to an offer – and don’t be frightened of getting a dialogue going with the owner.
  • It can be a good idea to view properties that you may not normally have considered. Estate agents know the market and will often have some good ideas about properties with something extra to offer, be it an option to extend and renovate or a flat in an up and coming area.
  • Put any offers in writing and tell the sellers why you love their home. List everything that clarifies your position and puts your offer in the best possible light. Who knows – the seller may have been a first-time buyer themselves not so long ago and might relate to your circumstances.
  • Once you are under offer, be as efficient as possible. Your purchase/sale is more likely to go smoothly if you're prepared and able to stick to the time line set by the agent.


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