The top 10 first-time buyer mistakes and how to avoid them

Searching for a first home is an exciting chapter in anyone’s life, but it can be incredibly daunting, too.

The property market is notoriously difficult to navigate, particularly in the period of economic turbulence we find ourselves in; with ever-changing interest rates and soaring borrowing costs to contend with.

While most first-time buyers will put a huge amount of preparation into buying a property, it can be easy to overlook some of the key considerations ahead of the home-buying process, which can end up becoming costly mistakes further down the line.

For those getting ready to step onto the property ladder, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 most common mistakes first-time buyers make – as well as how to avoid them.

1. Not cleaning up your credit in advance

To avoid credit-related issues ahead of the home buying process, request a credit report from a trusted reporting agency to get a clear picture of your current credit score. Remember – your credit score is like a financial CV, and it’ll be examined closely by lenders before they decide whether or not to lend to you, or whether they reject your application altogether.

Checking your credit score ahead of time will give you the opportunity to check for any errors on your record, and to get your credit rating in good shape if you have a history of credit issues. There are steps you can take to boost your credit score and to ultimately increase your chances of being approved for a mortgage, but if your credit score isn’t in the best shape, don’t lose hope – there are still ways to get a mortgage with bad credit.

2. Underestimating the costs of buying a house

We all know that buying a home is expensive, but there are countless hidden costs that go way beyond a deposit or solicitors’ fees that you’ll need to be prepared for.

You’ll need to ensure that you save enough money for all the potential moving expenses you’ll have to face, as well as your monthly mortgage payments, maintenance/renovation costs, your energy bills, utilities, insurances, personal expenses, etc. The best approach is to calculate the most accurate possible total of your monthly outgoings and to work out when the payments come out of your account throughout the month, so that you can ensure that you’ll always have enough to cover them.

3. Not taking the time to prepare

Preparation, preparation, preparation. There are so many steps you can take to do your future self a favour and avoid delays when the homebuying process really starts picking up momentum. These include:

Getting an agreement in principle

While it’s easy to get swept up in all the fun parts of looking for your first home, it’s essential to actually work out what your mortgage options are first.

Before you jump into viewing properties, it’s a wise idea to get an agreement in principle from your lender. Sometimes known as a ‘decision in principle’, this refers to a certificate from your mortgage provider which indicates how much they’re likely to let you borrow, and is usually valid for between 30 and 90 days.

An agreement in principle isn’t an official offer from your lender, but it gives you an accurate idea of the budget you’re working with and the properties you can realistically afford.

Having all essential documents prepared

It won’t be much of a surprise that you’ll have a lot of documents to keep track of during the home buying process. To make life easier for yourself, make sure you research which documents you’ll need and choose a place to store and organise them, so you have everything to hand when your lender asks for them later down the line.

Documents required for a mortgage application may include:
– Your credit report
– Proof of ID
– Proof of current address
– Evidence of where your deposit is coming from
– Proof of income
– Proof of expenses

Registering for the electoral roll 

Your mortgage lender will need to verify your identity before making any decisions about your application, and one of the easiest ways for them to do this is to check the electoral roll.

If you aren’t registered for the electoral roll, your application could take longer to process, and your credit score could suffer for it, too. You can register in a matter of minutes by filling out a short application on, so be sure to do this ahead of time to avoid any complications later on.

4. Underestimating how long it takes to get a mortgage 

Patience is imperative while going through the mortgage application process. Unfortunately, there’s no set time frame for having an application approved, and certain factors, such as income and affordability reviews, credit scores, and the size of the deposit, will influence the amount of time it takes to come up with a suitable offer. 

On average, it takes two to six weeks to get a mortgage offer approved, though at times it can take longer. This is why it’s crucial to get your mortgage application process started as soon as possible, before rushing into making an offer on a home. 

5. Not using a financial expert

Can you buy a house without consulting a financial advisor? Yes.

Should you? Perhaps not. 

Financial advisors, like the team at Lendese, are experts in the mortgage industry and will be able to offer specialist insights and an exclusive view of the market in order to ensure you get the best deal. 

Navigating the housing market can be overwhelming, but having a financial expert in your corner can help to ease anxiety and take the hard work out of it for you. At Lendese, we work with first time buyers and remortgagers alike; searching through thousands of mortgages to land our clients the deal with the best possible rates and terms. So, before jumping into the first deal you’re offered, consider having a chat with an expert to see if there’s anything better out there for you.

6. Failing to research the local area 

If you’ve got a certain area in mind, you’ll want to do your research before contacting an estate agent or browsing properties. 

If you fail to do your research, you may encounter nasty surprises later on, such as local crime rates, construction or development projects nearby, or environmental issues – all of which can severely impact the enjoyment of living in your new home. 

Before committing to a property, be sure to spend some time in the area itself, and think about what your priorities look like for the area you’d like to live in.

These may include:

– Average house prices
– School ratings
– Traffic levels
– Green spaces
– Local crime maps
– Planning applications in the area
– General maintenance and cleanliness of the area
– Transport links
– Local amenities

7. Buying a ‘non-standard’ property 

There are a number of property types that are considered ‘non-standard’ properties, or ‘non-standard constructions’. These include properties such as:

– High-rise flats
– Flats above a shop or commercial premises
– Properties made of concrete
– Ex-local authority housing
– Listed buildings
– Steel frames or timber frames
– Properties with thatched roofs 

In short, you may want to avoid these properties if you want to easily get a mortgage. This is because they’re at greater risk of being affected by things like noise, smells and security issues, all of which could negatively impact their value. For this reason, lenders tend to be stricter about the amount they’ll lend if you’re trying to buy a non-standard property; to protect themselves against a loss of value in the early years of ownership.

If you really have your heart set on a non-standard property, be sure to research it as much as you can in order to support your mortgage application with any information that may be required.

8. Not asking enough questions

Knowledge is power, and you’ll want to know as much as possible about your future home before committing to buying it. If you rush into making an offer before doing adequate research or asking the right questions, you may end up stuck in a home that requires extensive renovations and costs you a fortune in the long run. 

Before you start attending property viewings, consider drawing up a list of questions you want to ask so that you don’t miss anything. While at the property, you’ll also want to test things such as the windows, doors and lights, as well as water pressure. Don’t be afraid to direct questions at the sellers, such as why they want to move, how long the property has been on the market, what the local noise and traffic levels are like, and whether they’ve carried out any work at the property.

9. Skipping a home inspection 

Buying a home is an enormous financial commitment, and you want to make sure you have as much information as possible to make an informed decision. One critical aspect of this process is conducting a home inspection. These inspections are carried out by professional surveyors who evaluate the condition of each property and flag any potential issues or defects which may need to be addressed. Not only does this provide peace of mind for buyer, but it can strengthen negotiations with the seller for a reduction in price if there are repairs to be carried out or safety issues needing to be resolved. Ultimately, a home inspection ensures that you’re getting a fair deal and that you won’t be hit with any unexpected expenses after you’ve moved in. 

10. Making emotional decisions 

This is a tough one, especially if you’re convinced you’ve found your dream home, but it’s important to keep a sensible head screwed on and not make any house buying decisions on the whims of excitement. No matter how perfect a home may seem on the surface, avoid rushing into anything until you’ve carried out all the essential checks and research.

With any financial investment, decisions need to be based on fact and not emotion, and while buying a home is an inherently emotional experience, it’s also one of the biggest financial commitments you’ll ever make in your lifetime, and you owe it to yourself to get it right. 

How Lendese can help 

As qualified financial experts, we support first-time buyers, home movers, landlords and remortgagers in finding the best possible deal to suit their needs. 

We’ll take the time to understand your goals, your budget and what sort of deal you’re looking for, and will offer guidance on which type of mortgage will be right for you. We’ll then search through thousands of deals and lenders until we find something that suits your personal circumstances.

First-time buying can be overwhelming, but we’re ready to do the hard work for you – get in touch to get the ball rolling today.

Speak to the team