Advice for second-time buyers

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There’s loads of advice out there for first-time buyers about how to get on the housing ladder, but much less for those looking to step onto the next rung. It’s time we changed that…

First-time buyers are giving a lot of hand-holding through every step of the process, including advice about the financial help available and things like what questions to ask during a house viewing.

Second-time buyers face many of the same challenges, though, with a few of their own thrown in for good measure, so we’ve put together a short guide if you’re getting itchy feet.

Ask yourself, “do we really need to move?”

This should always be your first question. Moving is renowned for being expensive and stressful, and there’s no guarantee you’ll be any happier in your new place. Make a list of pros and cons about your current home, and really think about why you’re looking at moving.

If you just need more space, it may make more sense to invest in an extension or simply rearrange the layout of your current home to maximise the square footage.

Improving is often cheaper than moving, with the added benefit of adding even more value to your property: research indicates the average extension costs £19,750, but adds almost £35,000 to the sale price of your property. Take a look at other properties in your street to see if there’s a precedent set regarding planning permission for extensions, loft conversions and so on. Planning rules have even been relaxed in recent years to encourage extending while house builders struggle to keep up with demand for new homes.

Prioritise your needs

In the scrabble to get on the housing ladder, you probably made a couple of compromises before spiralling prices left you with no options at all. The issue of increasing prices won’t have gone away the second time around, but the pressure is off to a certain degree. You can afford to be pickier, but it still makes sense to make a list of requirements, separating the ‘must-haves’ from the ‘nice-to-haves’.

It’s easy to be tempted by somewhere that ticks all the nice-to-haves off, but if it doesn’t tick off the must-haves too you might end up moving again a third or fourth time.

Think about the future

Your need to move is probably down to a change in circumstances: the growth of your family, or perhaps a career change. So, if you want to avoid having to move for a third time, think about how your life might change again in future. If you’re planning on having more children, for instance, ask yourself if you’d manage in your new home if you ended up having twins unexpectedly.

Do your sums

Before you even contemplate putting your current home on the market, speak to a mortgage advisor. They can tell you about what you’re able to afford this time around; your current provider may offer you a preferential rate, but may also want to know about your new circumstances. If you’re moving because there’s a little one on the way, for example, they may factor in things like reduced income and childcare costs that lie ahead.

It’s important not to overstretch yourself, and this includes both the purchase price and ongoing expenses. A larger home may cost more to heat, for example, especially if it’s a character property that’s not as well insulated as a modern home. It’s also worth getting a quote on your buildings and contents insurance before putting in an offer as lots of factors can affect your premiums – not just your next home’s value.

Then there are things like redecorating, the cost of your new commute, solicitors’ fees, the cost of moving…

Maximise your budget

The amount you can spend on your new home is likely to correlate strongly with how much you’re able to get for your existing home. Getting the best possible price for it is important, and it starts before getting your estate agent around for a valuation.

Do the following, at the very least, and you could squeeze an extra few thousand out of your potential buyers:

  • Clear out the clutter – move anything not vital into the loft, garage or short-term storage. This will make your home appear more spacious
  • Boost your kerb appeal – first impressions count. Give the gardens a spruce up, consider repainting the front door, and make sure the windows are sparkling clean
  • Fix up, look sharp – give the whole place a good tidy, including replacing any blown light bulbs and shampooing the carpets. It’s a small investment but absolutely worth it, especially if you have pets
  • Redecorate – this doesn’t have to mean getting your paintbrushes out. A couple of extra wall mirrors and carefully-planned lighting can transform the way a space feels.

We’ve written a whole article on how to increase the value of your home.

Be patient

Moving is time-consuming. As a second-time buyer you’re more likely to become embroiled in a chain, which may stretch the process out over a number of months. Unless you’re very lucky, the chances are something will crop up to delay proceedings at some point. If you go into it anticipating problems, you’re less likely to be derailed when they (almost inevitably) happen.

Take a deep breath, remember why you’re doing it, and keep the end situation in mind.

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