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Looking for a home

Before you start searching the property market you need to find out how much you can afford to pay. A mortgage adviser will help you work out how much you can borrow based on your income.

You need to have saved a deposit and have enough over to pay the costs of buying which include stamp duty (for properties over £250,000), mortgage arrangement fees, solicitors and surveyors costs.

The size of your deposit is crucial in deciding your loan-to-value (LTV) which is how much you need to borrow as a percentage of the purchase price. The higher your LTV, the higher the rate of interest you will pay on your mortgage and the fewer loans there will be available. 

Decide what you want

Your next decision is narrowing down your search area. If you have a choice of areas, look at the factors that are important to you such as transport links, schools and shops in the area, parks, the type of properties available and their average price.

You need to be prepared to compromise. If you can't afford to buy a suitable home in your idea area you will have to either buy something smaller in the same area or move to a less convenient or desirable neighbourhood.  The main thing is to decide on your priorities.

Local estate agents

Next, you need to contact local estate agents. Be as precise as you can about what you need – the number of bedrooms, the specific streets you're interested in, whether you want a garden and a garage. The style of home you want and whether you're prepared to do work on it are also helpful details.

The internet is a great place to start your search and to register your interest, but it's not enough.

A face-to-face meeting with the agents will help you too especially in a competitive market or when there are not enough properties for sale. Make a friend of the agents, keeping them informed of what you're doing and whether you've seen anything you're interested in. Don't miss viewings and do keep in touch regularly to see if anything new has come on their books recently.

The agent will know you are a serious buyer if you have already put your home on the market and you'll be viewed favourably if you have already found a buyer. For first-time buyers, showing that you've enquired about a mortgage and have an offer in principal will be a big help. It is a good idea to reassure the agent that you can afford the homes you're viewing and not wasting their time.

In most cases buyers don't pay a fee to the agent; it is the seller who pays the agent. The exception is if you use a property search agent to scour the market for you and to narrow down possibilities. Also, if you buy at auction you will have to pay a premium to the auction house.

Lender Initial Rate Duration Standard Rate Overall Cost For Comparison Max Loan To Value Fee
2.59% 2 years 5.69% 5.4% APR 75% £999
2.69% 2 years 4.99% 4.9% APR 75% £495
2.94% 2 Years 5.69% 5.4% APR 75% £199
2.99% 2 years 4.99% 4.9% APR 85% £495
2.99% 3 years 4.99% 4.6% APR 70% £499
3.0% 2 years 5.69% 5.5% APR 80% £999
3.19% 5 Years 4.79% 4.2% APR 80% £995
3.35% To Jul 2014 4.95% 4.6% APR 75% £999
3.5% 2 years 5.49% 5.1% APR 75% £595
3.84% 2 years 3.94% 4% APR 90% £499

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