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Monday, 15 September 2014

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The questions that first-timers really should be asking

Rents dipped in February as more first-time buyers entered the property market. But research by a bank has shown that some of them are forgetting to ask some of the obvious questions when choosing their first home.

A survey by HSBC spoke to both estate agents and first-time buyers about the practicalities of home ownership, and what they should take into account.

It found that the major factors considered by first-timers were location – mentioned by more than one-third – followed by the size of outside space, cited by more than one quarter, and local amenities, cited by one-fifth.

However only one per cent considered other practical aspects, such as plans for development in the area. Only four per cent looked at the condition of nearby properties and signs of subsidence, and the cost of updates or repairs only occurred to six per cent.

“It is important that first-time buyers consider more than just their immediate desires when looking for their first home,” warns Peter Dockar, head of mortgages at HSBC. “Otherwise they could well be in for a financial headache further down the line.”

Carlisle estate agents also urge caution. “We tend to see quite a lot of first-time buyers wanting to buy something because it’s cheap – but it’s usually cheap for a reason,” says Richard Stronach, managing director of H&H King in Carlisle.

“Don’t overstretch yourself, and don’t be too ambitious with a property that’s in need of a lot of work. Look for something that seems to be in good order, so that you don’t have to find extra money for repairs after the deposit.”

The importance of location depends on how long you plan to keep the property, he adds.

“If you are planning to move on after two or three years then you have to be quite particular about the area. But if you want a property for the long term then you may prefer to have an extra bedroom rather than being on the main route to somewhere.”

Neil Emmerson, mortgage adviser with Tiffen estate agents, points out that first-time buyers often opt for older terraced houses, and warns: “Having not bought a property before, they might not be fully aware of problems with old electrics or old boilers.

“Get a thorough survey to ensure that you aren’t buying a money pit.”

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