The First Time Buyers’ Guide to the Property Market

Buying your first home is a landmark moment in life. But how can you avoid the potential pitfalls along the way?

If you’re thinking of taking your first step onto the property ladder there’s a lot to think about. What sort of home are you looking for? Will you be able to get a mortgage? How much can you afford? It’s easy to feel pressured into making a quick decision especially with builders, mortgage lenders and even the government eager to get you to buy. But it’s important to take a step back and think about what buying a property means in the long term.



The most important decision you need to make concerns affordability. In the current market you’ll need a deposit that’s at least 10% of the value of the property. The bigger the deposit you can raise the better mortgage rate you’ll get so it’s worth looking at how you can raise extra cash. Do you have savings you could use? Or could you ask the bank of Mum and Dad to help out.

An innovative approach is to ask the vendor to chip in. Ask the seller to pay your deposit and legal fees rather than asking for a reduction in the price of the property. Talk to estate agents in Belfast and they’ll be able to advise you on this type of approach. Don’t forget that there are extra costs over and above the price of the house. You need to take into account legal fees, mortgage arrangement costs, survey fees, insurance and moving costs. By taking all of these into account at the start you won’t get caught out later.

– Do you have enough for the deposit?

– Can your parents help out?

– Can you get the seller to chip in?

– Don’t forget other costs.

Getting Ready to Buy

Once you have finances in place you’re ready to start looking. Sorting the finances first puts you in a strong position when it comes to negotiating and taking advantage of any fluctuations in the market. There will always be sellers who are in a hurry and if you’re ready to move fast you can get a better deal. Register with local estate agents and sign up to property sites online to get details of houses in the area you’re interested in.

When you do find a property make sure both the house and location are right. Consider all the factors that make a property desirable such as proximity to schools, transport facilities and shops. You may not be worried about all these things now but they make a difference when you eventually come to sell and they’ll affect the price.

If you think a property is overpriced don’t be afraid to make an offer. Check the prices of similar properties in the area so you have an idea of the right level. If you’re considering new properties find out if the developer is offering incentives for first time buyers.

Shop carefully and you’ll find that your money will go further than you think.


Mary Yohanan is a freelance writer specialising in the property field. If you’re a first time buyer in NI look for experienced estate agents in Belfast who can help you find the right home.

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