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A first-time buyer’s guide

Buying your first property is one of life’s most significant and exciting milestones. Finding the right property is often only the beginning of a lengthy and sometimes complex process, which will typically represent the most substantive financial transaction you have made to date. Follow these five simple steps to smooth your path to property ownership.

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Prepare well in advance

Before you begin your house hunt, you will need a comprehensive understanding of your finances. Remember that your budget should to extend well beyond the deposit, encompassing a survey, legal checks and moving costs. It’s also sensible to set aside a sum for renovations and unforeseen circumstances. Once you’ve taken all these potential costs into consideration, decide how much you’re comfortable spending so that you have a clear figure with which to approach an agent. 

Define your criteria

Knowing how much you can spend and where you want to live will enable you to begin researching comparable homes within your budget. You’ll soon find that some houses lack features you’re unwilling to forego, whether that’s a spacious garden, extra bedroom or open fireplace. Make a list of your personal ‘essentials’ and bring it with you when you meet estate agents. A change of location may enable you to find a home that individually exceeds your expectations, but remember that it’s easier to renovate a home than transform a neighbourhood.

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Choose your agent

Your real estate agent should be a constant source of reassurance throughout your property search, ready to supply information on anything from local public transport to reasonable offers. Once you have set a budget and have an outline of your needs, conduct research both online and in-person, asking around for recommendations. Compile a short-list of your options and conduct interviews with the best candidates, assessing not only their professional credentials, but whether you warm to them as a person and would feel comfortable taking their advice. 

View more than once

If you think you’ve found your new home, it’s worth revisiting at different times of day. Record your impressions of the neighbourhood at nighttime and during the day, noting any potential issues, such as traffic congestion at rush hour. If possible, find out your prospective neighbours’ views on the area. The more opinions you have, the better informed your decision will be.

Think of the future

It can be easy to quickly fall in love with a property, but keep in mind that you’re making a long-term investment. If you buy a new build, it’s unlikely to require work on the infrastructure; however, these homes may depreciate in value once you’ve lived there for a few years, as they can no longer be marketed as untouched ‘new’ homes. Conversely, if you take on an investment piece that requires renovations, make sure you have a comprehensive understanding of the costs that will be incurred before committing. Historic properties can be charming, but you’ll need to verify that there are no official listings or protections that will bar you from carrying out any planned work.

To find a real estate agent with local expertise and a wealth of experience, visit Engel & Völkers. With our international brand recognition and reputation, we hire only the finest, friendliest agents, making E&V the ideal choice for your first property investment.

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