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A guide for first-time home buyers

Nov 17, 2022
While buying your first home is an exciting step, it can also feel daunting. In fact, over 55% of first-time buyers in the UK said their home-buying process was more stressful than they’d anticipated. From decoding jargon to worrying about unexpected fees, it’s a lot to take on – even just working out how and where to begin can be tricky.

But don’t worry – we’re here to give you a helping hand, so you can start the process of buying a home with confidence. First, we’ll cover why buying a brand-new home can make things much easier, and then we’ll go through the steps you need to take as a first-time buyer.

What are the benefits of buying a brand-new home?

Though the process of buying a home can be stressful, the good news is that buying a brand-new home can take a lot of that stress away. There are a number of reasons for this:

  • There’s no ‘onward chain’. This means you don’t have to worry about the sale falling through because your seller can’t find a new property to buy.
  • You can benefit from new-build specific offers and schemes, like Deposit Boost and Deposit Unlock, which could help you move with as little as a 5% deposit, making your move more affordable.
  • You’ll be the first to live in the property, so you can really make it your own.
  • Costs for repairs and redecoration should be minimal and you won’t have to save up even more for extensive renovations once you move in.
  • In some cases, you’ll be able to choose your own fixtures and fittings to tailor your new-build home to your personal taste.
  • Brand-new homes usually come with the 10-year NHBC Buildmark warranty – this is essentially an insurance policy which covers you for design or workmanship defects, so you can feel comfortable everything has been built to last.
  • Because new homes are usually built to higher energy-efficiency standards, owners can enjoy lower running costs and energy bills.

So, how do you buy a brand-new home? Let’s run through each step of our first-time buyer guide.


Step 1: Make sure you can afford it

Before you jump in, it’s important to weigh up all the costs of buying a home, and work out what you can and can’t afford.
The amount you’ll be able to borrow from mortgage lenders isn’t just based on your income, but on your outgoings as well, so it’s a good idea to get your finances in order as a first step. You can also use an online affordability calculator to help give you an idea of what lenders might offer. Don’t forget to factor in additional one-off costs like survey fees, insurance and conveyancing costs too.

Once you’ve done this, you can decide how you might take advantage of any developer offers that are currently available, including deposit contributions and home part exchange, to help make your brand-new home an affordable reality.


Step 2: Speak to a Mortgage Adviser

While you can of course find a mortgage yourself, many first-time buyers choose to use a Mortgage Adviser (sometimes also called a Mortgage Broker).
A Mortgage Adviser will guide you through the mortgage process from start to finish. They’ll assess what you can afford, help you choose the best mortgage product based on your individual financial circumstances, and assist you with securing a mortgage.

Find out more in our guide to speaking to a Mortgage Adviser.

Step 3: Find the right new-build home for you

Make sure you thoroughly research the area you want to live in. Think about what’s important to you – a train station nearby, a high street with a nice café or two, or good schools – and see if the area ticks your boxes. As well as looking on popular property search websites, developer websites also have useful information about living in different areas.

Be prepared for the fact that you might be buying off plan – that’s buying a home before it’s been completed. This comes with many advantages, such as being the first to live there and getting to choose your own fixtures and fittings. Plus, there’s no need for extensive renovations when you move in, so you can focus on settling in and personalising your home straight away.

Finally, be sure you know what to look for when viewing properties. It’s important to take your time inspecting each room – and don’t forget the garden, too. This will help you to make a sensible, rational decision rather than making an offer based on impulse. Read our property viewing checklist to find out what you should look for when viewing a house.


Step 4: Reserve your new-build home

Once you feel confident that you’ve found the right home and you’ve secured a mortgage, it’s time to reserve your new-build property.
You’ll have to pay a reservation fee, normally £500 to £1,000. If you back out of the sale at a later date, you’ll lose this – but if you go through with the purchase, it will be deducted from the total price.

Step 5: Appoint a conveyancing solicitor

This next step might sound intimidating, but don’t worry – a conveyancing solicitor is just a lawyer to help you with the legal side of buying a home. In fact, they do a lot of the legwork for you and help make the process run smoothly.

Remember to shop around for the best price and make sure you find a solicitor that specialises in conveyancing (preparing the property transfer documents).

Learn more about the legal steps of buying a new home.


Step 6: Arrange your mortgage

There are plenty of options to consider when it comes to a mortgage. Once you’ve done your research (or spoken to a Mortgage Adviser), you can select the option that’s best for you.

If you’re worried about whether you can afford a Barratt Homes new build, we have a few schemes that can help make your purchase more affordable – especially for first-time buyers.

  • Deposit Unlock: Exclusively available on selected new-build homes, Deposit Unlock could help you buy with just a 5% deposit.
  • Deposit Boost: If you have a 10% deposit, we could boost it with a further 5% – meaning you only need an 85% mortgage.

Step 7: Get a valuation and survey

Your mortgage lender will want confirmation the property is worth what you’re paying for it. They’ll organise the valuation for you – this will involve a fee.

Next, you need to book in a house survey. This is essentially a health check of a property, undertaken by a qualified surveyor, and designed to identify any potential problems with a home before you buy. If a survey identifies major concerns, you can use this as a bargaining chip to lower the house price, or decide to walk away from the sale completely.

The age of the property is the most important factor in choosing the type of house survey you need. Older homes will need a more comprehensive survey. New-build homes are often covered by a 10-year warranty, so you may decide that you don’t need one. Whatever you choose to do, the more in-depth the survey, the more it will cost.

Find out more about the different types of house survey.


Step 8: Complete legal work and exchange

Your solicitor will take care of this for you, so there’s no need to worry. The legal work just means formally transferring ownership from the seller or developer to you (known as conveyancing) and making sure there are no legal obstacles in the way, such as local plans that might affect the value of the property you’re buying.

Once the legal work is complete, your solicitor will exchange contracts with the seller or developer. This is when you pay your deposit and commit to the deal taking place.

If you’re buying a new-build home from Barratt, we’ll invite you to your New Home Tour before you get the keys. We’ll take you round your brand-new home and show you where things are and how everything works.

Step 9: Move in

On the date of completion, you become the legal owner of your new home. The full cost of the property is transferred from your solicitor to the seller. Then, the keys are yours and you can move in!

Find your brand-new home today

Buying your first home can be exciting and a bit stressful too. We’re here to help you every step of the way, so if you see yourself living in a brand-new Barratt home, start your journey today.