Monday 30 November 2015 2:35 pm

Top tips for first-time buyers in London

Getting on the property ladder is hard work, especially if you’re looking to buy your first home in London. According to Savills, the average deposit for a first time buyer is currently 68 per cent of their household income, but that rises to 177 per cent in London.

But with a couple of helpful announcements in the Autumn Statement this week – like Help to Buy London and the extension of the Shared Ownership scheme – things are looking up if you’re set on buying your first home soon. Here are some tips from industry experts to help you on your way.

Build a good relationship with your estate agent

Jo Eccles, managing director of Sourcing Property

“When searching for a property, your relationship with the agents is key; be prompt for viewings and responsive and proactive when giving feedback on what they’ve shown you. Show agents that you're serious about buying somewhere and keen to secure something ASAP – whatever you do, don't say on your viewings that 'it's early days and I've just started my search' as agents will assume you're going to take months to buy anything and they'll sideline you in favour of other more motivated buyers.”

Get a solicitor early

“The first-time buyer market is competitive so you will need to do everything you can to stand out from your competition. On the legal side, choose your solicitor early as including these details with your offer will make you look prepared. Many first time buyers don't do this so you'll come across as much more credible than your competition.”

Pick an area with potential for growth

John Ennis, central London and new homes area director at Foxtons

“There are a number of factors which could potentially indicate area growth, which are worth looking out for when making a decision on a first property purchase. A re-development plan or investment coming from both the Government and the private sector could indicate a level of confidence in the area’s future – take Westfield shopping centres as an example. Improvements to infrastructure, transport, easy access to employment or education, and a nice blend of leisure and pleasure all lead to good growth potential. House hunters should look for these key ‘quantum factors’ – whether current or proposed – when assessing where to buy.”

Consider buying a new build home

Neil McGimpsey, sales manager at Foxtons New Homes East

“For first time buyers looking for a property which doesn't require any work to be done prior to moving in, new build apartments can be a great option as they are usually developed to high specification and are ready to move in on the day of the development's completion. There are usually no unexpected costs to a new build apartment as they come with the advantage of a tenure guarantee, which can make a big difference for a first time buyer. Security is another recognised benefit of new homes which often offer gated entry, CCTV and on-site concierge, as well as sustainability aspects with better energy performance and efficiency.”

Sort your finances

Jamie Lester, head of Haus Properties

“The first thing I did when considering moving into my first property was to write down every expense that would occur; from mortgage payments, building insurance, all the way to TV bills – list everything as it is important to make sure you are comfortable in meeting those payments every month. If you are falling short, consider renting one of your bedrooms out to help make ends meet.”

Be flexible with your budget

Rebecca Sullivan, Savills’ Northcote Road office

“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.”

Get friendly with the current owner

“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.”

Visit several estate agents in the area

“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.”

Be open-minded

“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.”

Move quickly once you’ve put an offer in

“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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