Being in a position to buy your first home is both incredibly exciting and nerve-wracking. I've been lucky enough to have loads of people around me that have either been through it themselves recently or work in the industry and have the knowledge to advise and help in most situations!
So, although my experience was maybe 'easier' than most, i've compiled a little list of some of the things I learnt from buying my first home.
1. Don't get disheartenedThroughout the process of buying my flat, I experience my share of disappointment and upset. I'd gone through the process of putting an offer in, getting it accepted... as far as I was concerned everything was going swimmingly. Then I got told that it failed the mortgage valuation and I wasn't going to be able to get a loan on the property because of 'severe structural movement'!
I was back to searching for another flat, I quickly found another one that I fell in love with, just to have an offer declined and it taken off the market.
Finally, despite all that, i've ended up with a flat I love - i've always been a believer in "everything happens for a reason" and I think in this case that's definitely true.
So my take away: Don't get disheartened when things don't go your way straight away, something better will always come along. I truly believe that.
2. Find someone you trust that you can ask loads of questions!I was in a very privileged position when going through this process, particularly during the mortgage side of things. My best friend is a *fantastic* mortgage broker and so I was able to go through her for everything, ask loads of questions and not feel stupid for doing so. Even questions that didn't relate to the mortgage obviously being in that line of work she had more knowledge about the process in general than I did and was able to offer solutions or at least point me in the direction of someone that might know the answer! I definitely think my experience would have been very different had I not had her to lean on.
3. Speak to a mortgage advisor before you start lookingThis probably isn't something everyone would recommend but personally i'd say this is a big one!
I was so naïve when I first starting looking, i'd used one of the online calculators to find out how much I would be able to borrow and took that as gospel. Obviously, those online calculators can give you a ball-park figure but they don't take into account all your committed outgoings and finances etc. For me, it meant that I found myself looking at properties completely out of my budget and setting my expectations way too high!
I'd definitely recommend having the conversation before you get carried away on RightMove like I did.
4. Gather inspiration!This one may be a little trivial but it's probably the most exciting part of the whole experience! Well, at least for me it was. One of the things that i've always been most exciting for when it comes to moving out was being able to decorate and kit out my own place any which way I wanted. But, I think the most important thing is to not get blind-sighted by what you think you want! I went into the process open minded but with a vague idea of what I thought I wanted each room to look like... grey!
However, by trolling through instagram and Pinterest (for hours and hours), i've ended up with a teal sofa and pink curtains! You never know what will work in the space or tickle your fancy until you've spent the time looking at all your options.
5. Be patientI guess this one is kind of similar to number one but my god it's a big one! I can honestly say that the process of finding the perfect flat right through to actually moving in is one loooooong process. (I've been told it's even longer for flats because of the leases / management companies etc)
And, the worst part of the whole thing is when the solicitors are doing their bit and you hear nothing for weeks.. it honestly feels like nothings happening and there's no progression and then all of a sudden you're completing and moving in. It's a crazy journey and unfortunately one you just have to sit and ride out, it'll be worth it in the end!
Please note: All of the above information is based on my experience of buying a flat in the UK.