Searching for your first home? Here’s a quick 5-step guide

February 11, 2021

Buying your first home is an exciting experience, but it can also be a bit of a maze. Check out these five steps to help get you started on your home buying journey.

1.   Save your deposit

First-time buyers need a deposit of at least 10%, while non-first-time buyers need at least 20%. This may seem like a large amount but starting a savings habit will see it add up over time. Take a look at your existing budget and use our spending calculator to see where you can make savings. You can also compare savings accounts with our savers Money Tool to make sure you are getting the best interest rate for your savings. First-time buyers considering a new build house can also avail of the Help-to-Buy scheme which, until the end of 2021, offers up to €30,000 towards the cost of your first home. Full details of the scheme can be found on revenue.ie.

2.   Work out your budget

As well as your deposit, you may also need to pay for other costs when buying a house, such as stamp duty, legal fees, survey costs, engineer reports, moving costs, repairs, decoration, furniture, etc. You should factor these costs into your budget in addition to your 10% deposit. Your lender may ask to see your budget as part of your application.

3.   Research and apply for your mortgage

Once you have your deposit saved, you are ready to apply for a mortgage. Mortgages are available either directly from lenders or through a broker. If you decide to go through a broker, be sure to find out in advance how they are paid. Some may charge you a fee, while others are paid commission by the lenders. The most important thing to think about is the interest rate. Many lenders offer incentives such as cashback which can seem very appealing. However, you need to consider the overall cost of the mortgage over the long term rather than short term incentives, consider the interest rate you will pay, along with the number of years on your mortgage to get the total amount you will have to pay. To compare the mortgages available and see the total cost of the different options, you can use our mortgages Money Tool.

4.   Find a solicitor

Before you start viewing properties, you should also look for a solicitor to carry out the conveyancing – this is the legal work to transfer ownership of the property from the seller to you. As soon as your offer on a property is accepted, the estate agent will ask for your solicitor’s details and will pass these onto the seller’s solicitor, so it  is a good idea to choose a solicitor before you start your search. Solicitor’s fees can vary considerably and may be either a percentage of the property price or a flat fee. You will usually be charged extra for services like telephone calls, postage, search fees and registering deeds. So, before you choose one, get written quotes from a number of solicitors with details of their professional fees and other costs.

5.   Start house hunting

Once you have your mortgage ‘approval in principle’ and you have chosen a solicitor, it’s time to start house hunting. Search the web, check the streets for ‘for sale’ signs and talk to estate agents, the right house for you is out there somewhere!

For more tips and advice, see our step by step guide on buying a home. You can also check out episode 5 of How to be good with money for more tips on saving for your first home.

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