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Buying Your First Home in the UK

Updated: Mar 26

Hi there my lovely #storetroopers! Today we will be chatting about buying your first home in the UK, it’s a momentous occasion and one to get excited about. I remember buying my first home many years ago; it was filled with enthusiasm, anticipation, and, let's be honest, a fair bit of stress. But fear not, dear reader! I’m here to guide you through the hullaballoo of the UK property market, with a special focus on two gems of the North: Manchester and Leeds.


Step 1: Budgeting - Know What You Can Afford

The bedrock of your home-buying adventure is establishing a realistic budget. This goes beyond just tallying up your savings for the deposit.  While a minimum of 10% is standard, the more you can muster, the better your mortgage rates, including reducing your monthly repayments. But the initial deposit is just the tip of the iceberg, you'll also need to consider a range of additional costs that many first-time buyers might overlook:


Mortgage arrangement fees: These can vary widely and can be added to your mortgage, which means you'll pay interest on them over the life of the mortgage.


Survey costs: Essential for identifying any potential issues with the property such as subsidence, utility supply issues etc. Prices vary based on the property size and the survey type. They are well worth it in my humble opinion unless you are buying a new build with a warranty included that is. But even then, I’d have a mind to check it out.


Legal fees: Solicitors or conveyancers are there to handle the legal aspects of your purchase, and usually base their fees on the complexity of the transaction. Budgeting accurately means accounting for all these costs upfront, so you're not caught off guard later.


Step 2: Mortgage in Principle

So, you think you have found your dream first home, securing a Mortgage in Principle (MIP) is akin to getting a preliminary thumbs-up from lenders. A MIP gives you a better idea of what lenders are willing to offer you based on your income and credit score. It's not a commitment, but it does put you in a stronger position when making offers. Typically, valid for 60 to 90 days, it gives you a clear timeframe for your property search. It's a useful tool for several reasons:


Confidence in Your Budget: It gives you a clearer idea of what you can afford, allowing you to house-hunt within a realistic price range.


Strengthening Your Position: When making offers, showing that a lender has already indicated they're willing to back you financially makes you a more attractive buyer, especially in competitive markets like Manchester and Leeds.


Obtaining a MIP usually involves a credit check, so it's wise to ensure your credit score is in good shape before applying. This step can also highlight any areas of your finances that might need attention before proceeding with a full mortgage application.


Step 3: The Hunt Begins - Manchester and Leeds

Armed with your budget, the exciting part begins. The search depends on your individual needs; do you have to move for work, find a good school, retirement venue or just because you want a change. I am covering Manchester and Leeds here as both are vibrant cities with a lot to offer first-time buyers, each with distinct characteristics:


Manchester: Known as ‘Cottonopolis’ in the 19th century, Manchester is not just famous for its historical significance in the textile industry but also for its vibrant music scene, which has given rise to iconic bands such as Oasis, The Smiths, and The Stone Roses​. This city is a tapestry of culture, history, and modern living, catering to a range of preferences. Whether it's the indie boutiques and cafes of the Northern Quarter or the more laid-back, family-friendly vibe of areas like Didsbury and Chorlton, offering a more suburban feel with great schools and parks, ideal for young families. Manchester's diversity is its strength.


Leeds: Did you know Leeds hosts the UK's largest music festival annually, a testament to its thriving music culture. Not only that but from the historic charm of its Victorian buildings to the cutting-edge cultural scene, Leeds offers a variety of living options from chic city-centre apartments to quaint homes in leafy suburbs like Chapel Allerton and Roundhay which are hotspots for first timers, offering community vibes and green spaces, providing a perfect blend of city and suburban life.

When searching in these cities, consider not just the property but also the lifestyle each area offers.


Step 4: Viewings and Questions

Viewing properties is more than just walking through doors; it's about asking the right questions and observing carefully, envisioning your life in that space and its surroundings. For example, which wall will fit your Nerf collection, or the crafting equipment that you have been meaning to use for the past two years. When visiting properties, consider:


Condition of the Property: More seriously, when viewing properties, keep an eye out for signs of damp, the condition of the roof, the age of the boiler, and the state of the windows. It's also worth considering the energy efficiency of the property, as this can impact your utility bills.


Community and Amenities: Get a feel for the neighbourhood. Are there parks, shops, and schools nearby? What's the transport like? The community you choose can significantly impact your quality of life. Also bear in mind the area's long-term appeal, considering factors like planned developments or changes in the local area.

Asking the right questions and conducting thorough viewings will ensure you make an informed decision.


Step 5: Making an Offer

Found the one? Here’s the scary part, it's time to make an offer. Remember, it's not just about price; your position as a first-time buyer with no chain can be very appealing to sellers looking for a smooth sale. Remember:


Your Position is Powerful: As a first-time buyer without a chain, your position can be a strong negotiating point. Sellers often prefer transactions that are less likely to fall through, so emphasize your readiness and flexibility. Be prepared to negotiate but also know your limits.


It's Not Just About Price: Consider other aspects like flexibility on move-in dates or your willingness to take the property as is, which can make your offer stand out.


Step 6: Solicitors and Surveys

This stage is all about dotting the i's and crossing the t's, boring but super important the role of solicitors and surveys cannot be overstated.


Solicitors: Did you know the origins of the legal profession are from ancient Rome and Greece? Well, today a good solicitor experienced in conveyancing will navigate the legal complexities, ensuring that the property transaction is sound.


Surveys: There are different levels of surveys available, from basic condition reports to full structural surveys, so choose one that matches the age and condition of the property you're considering. They can uncover hidden issues with the property, potentially saving you from costly repairs down the line. For an older house, opting for a more detailed survey can unveil hidden issues, potentially saving you from costly repairs down the line. A new build might get away with a brief survey.


Step 7: Final Mortgage Application

With your offer accepted, it's time to finalise the mortgage. This step involves a detailed assessment of your finances and the property in question.


Property Valuation: Conducted by the lender to ensure the property's worth matches the loan amount. The lender's valuation will ensure the property is worth the agreed price. This stage may also include finalising the mortgage type and interest rate, so it's crucial to review your options carefully to secure the best deal for your circumstances.


Final Checks: Your lender will perform a final review of your financial situation to ensure nothing has changed since your mortgage in principle.


The Finish Line - Exchange and Completion

You're nearly there! Once everything's in place, you'll exchange contracts with the seller - this is the point of no return, where you're legally committed to buying the property. Completion is when the property officially becomes yours, and you can collect the keys to your new home.


Stamp Duty and Other Fees - The Not-So-Fun Part

Ah, we must not forget stamp duty –the tax on buying property. As a first-time buyer in the UK, you're in luck if your first home is under £250,000, as you'll pay no stamp duty. For properties up to £925,000, you'll only pay 5% on the portion above £250,000. Remember, this can change, so always check the latest rates at


Final Thoughts

Buying your first home, especially in vibrant cities like Manchester and Leeds, is an adventure. By understanding and navigating these steps carefully, you're setting yourself up for a successful journey to homeownership. Yes, it's a process filled with paperwork and important decisions, but it's also the start of a new chapter. Remember, the property market is ever-changing, and while this guide aims to arm you with knowledge, always seek the latest advice and consult professionals when needed. Be thorough, ask questions, and don't rush. Your perfect first home is out there waiting for you.


Until next time, keep your investment compass steady and your dreams of property prosperity alive!


The Anonymous Investor.

*This blog post is for general information only and is not financial advice. Always speak to a financial advisor for guidance on your specific situation.


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