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First-time buyer: Top tips

We can all agree that moving is a huge life event. But it's not worth losing sleep over. We've done the leg work for you, and put together our top tips for moving home.


First-time buyer: Top tips

Saving your pennies

We know we talk about it a lot, but if you’re buying a Shared Ownership home, you may only need a deposit worth 5% of the share you’re buying (you read that right). So, let’s break it down:

  • for a home worth £250,000
  • you buy a 50% share worth £125,000
  • which means a 5% deposit from £6,250 (based on a 50% share).

But if you want to keep your options open, keep on paying into that rainy day fund. A bigger deposit can mean better mortgage deals and lower interest rates.

And you can check out our News & Inspiration page for more, as we’re always updating it with our top tips.

News and Inspiration

Improving your credit score

Buying your first home? You might have never checked your credit score. But it’s really important for helping you get a mortgage. Here’s a few ways to improve your score:

  • registering on the electoral roll
  • not missing any direct debit payments
  • catch up on overdue accounts.

But don’t stop there. Here’s Experian’s blog post, full of tips on how to improve your credit score.

How to Improve Your Credit Score Fast

Choosing a home

Buying a home is a bit different from online shopping. It’s probably the biggest purchase you’ll ever make, so slow down, do your research and find the perfect home. Everyone wants something a bit different, so here’s three things to keep in mind.

  • Location: if you're relocating, hop in the car at the weekend and have a look around. Take some time to test out your commute to work, check out local schools and really get a feel for the area.
  • Providers: We’re just one provider of new homes in the south. There’s loads to choose from, so read up and make sure you understand the process. Each company will offer something different. And, don’t be afraid to give us a buzz, we’d be happy to answer your questions.
  • Time to choose: Now here’s the fun part. Let’s find your dream home. Have a think about what you like (or don’t) about your home now. Need an extra bedroom to end the ‘top bunk’ fights? Want to buy an electric car (and need a charger)? This is a great way to start your ‘wishlist’ before starting your house hunt. 

Thinking of buying new but not sure if it's right for you? Grab a cuppa and have a read of our Benefits of buying new page.

Benefits of buying new

Understanding the money and legal bits

Getting a mortgage.

Before you can buy your new home, we need to know how much money you can borrow. An Independent Mortgage Advisor (IMA) can take a look at your deposit, income and credit score to work this out for you.

We’ll happily put you in touch with one of our IMAs to get the ball rolling. Or, take a look at MoneySavingExpert’s handy guide to mortgages.

First-Time Buyers' Mortgage Guide

Speak to a Solicitor.

Lots of people ask us if they need a Solicitor. And the answer is yes.

Save yourself time and stress (and legal jargon) by choosing a Solicitor. Even better if they’re a Shared Ownership expert. We’ve got some Solicitors who tick all the boxes on our recommended panel.

Solicitors specialising in Shared Ownership

Getting ready to move

Before you snatch the keys out of our hand, there’s lots to pack and plan ahead of moving day. So here’s a few things to do once you’ve got your date.

  • Book your broadband switchover. Dates book up fast, and most providers will only do this on a weekday. Don't get stuck without internet for weeks, as life without Netflix will really ruin the buzz of your new home.
  • Plan your rooms. Use an online tool to map out your new and current homes, so you can work out where you want all of your furniture to go. This will help you budget for any new furniture on your wishlist, as well as pack more efficiently.
  • Work out how much help you need. Buying all-new furniture? Hire a van for the day, or beg all your friends for help. Moving an entire four bedroom home? You’ll probably need a removals company. Get quotes early so you can keep money aside for this.
  • Pack an essentials box. It’s no fun moving when you can’t find the kettle or loo roll, so keep these bits handy on the day.

Celebrate! It's moving day

…Okay, maybe hold off popping the bubbly for a moment. Moving is hard work, no matter how much help you have. So, we've put our top tips here.

  • Take time off (yes, really). We know it’s not as fun as jetting off to a hot country, but it will give you time to get everything sorted and recover from all the lifting and shifting.
  • Don't rush. It’s tempting to move in the minute you get the keys to your new place, and who wants to pay rent for an empty house or flat? But there’s lots to get sorted, from end-of-tenancy cleans to meter readings. And, it’s really important to check through your inventory for your new home before the movers come in. Then you’ll know if that mark on the wall was there already, or if it was scraped with your sofa.
  • Change your sheets the night before you move. Then, in the morning, you can put them into bin bags or vacuum bags so they're easy to unpack in your new home. No one wants to change the sheets after a long day of moving. Make sure your bed is the first thing that’s set up, so no matter how far you get into unpacking, you can just collapse into bed at the end of the day.

Other resources

There’s lots of information on this page, so we hope you’ve found it helpful. But we’re always trying to come up with ways to help our customers with their new home journey. So, here’s a few final bits for your checklist, as well as some other pages to check out.

  • Update your address. If you have the spare cash, it’s worth forwarding your post, as this will remind you of any bits you’ve forgotten. Otherwise, try to make a list of your providers that you can work through.
  • Write a to-do list. This is a great place to start, especially if you’re asking on friends and family for help. Short on time? There’s lots of online moving checklists that will get you started. 
  • Set up your bills. You should be given a list of the property’s current providers, so you can choose to set up with them. But that doesn’t mean you have to break up with your energy company. Feel free to speak to them about switching to your new address. 

We know you can't get enough of all this advice. So, here's a few places to go next.

Stamp Duty explained

Buying guides

Your new home journey

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