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First time buyer mortgages

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First time buyer mortgage information

Here are a selection of the most common questions regarding a first time buyer mortgage

It's easy to navigate the mortgage process when you have a broker that really understands your situation and budget. We'll pull together all the information you need, spending time with you to get everything just perfect.

We'll ask you questions like:
  • What are your plans for the future?
  • What type of job do you do?
  • What's your income and pay structure?
  • What are your family circumstances?

We'll then research the mortgage rates on offer and look at the market to provide you with clear, relevant information you can use with confidence.

That way, when you're ready to make a decision, you can do so knowing that you've got all the facts.

Our mortgage advisers work closely with you to save you time and give you the very best chance of a successful application.

During the application process, we'll:

  • Talk you through all your options with a free consultation
  • Recommend the right mortgage for your situation
  • Check how much you can afford to borrow
  • Help you to gather the information and documents you need for your application
  • Help you prepare your application for submission
  • Submit your application to the lender
  • Liaise with the lender, solicitors and estate agents.

Once your mortgage has been offered, we'll support you all the way through to completion.

We'll work hard to build a lasting relationship with you.

So you'll always have someone you trust to help with any queries or requirements in the future.

We want to make buying a property as simple as possible. The process may sound complex, but we take away all the stress and manage all the paperwork for you.

Here's an overview of what happens:

  • First, we'll work with you to set your mortgage budget
  • You start the exciting bit ‐ viewing properties
  • We help you make and secure an offer on the place you want
  • You instruct a solicitor to handle the legal side of things
  • We finalise and submit your mortgage application to your chosen lender
  • They will survey the property to make sure the mortgage you want is reasonable
  • Once they are happy with the valuation, they'll make you an official mortgage offer
  • Your solicitor completes the legal process so you can exchange contracts and pay your deposit

That's it! The home is now yours and it's time to collect the keys.

Here's our step-by-step guide
  1. Before you start looking for a property, it's important to speak to one of our advisers. We'll use our expertise to help you work out how much you can borrow, set a budget, and decide what types of properties you will be able to get a mortgage for. It is important to speak to one of our advisers about an Agreement in Principle.
  2. Next, it's time to register with estate agents and start viewings. You'll be able to really focus your search because you'll know exactly what your finances will cover.
  3. The property market moves fast, so once you've found a place you like, put in an offer as soon as you can. You'll likely then negotiate with the seller on price. When your offer is accepted, the estate agent may ask you for a deposit.
  4. Next, we'll help you find a property solicitor or licensed conveyancer. They'll handle all the legal paperwork for you, and it's a good idea to use a professional who knows the area you want to move to. Later in the process they'll also manage the exchange of contracts, deposit payment and money transfers from the lender to the seller. They're experts so you can relax knowing it's all in safe hands.
  5. There's now a further opportunity to fine-tune the details of your mortgage application. We do all this for you, and submit the application on your behalf.
  6. The lender will then survey the property to make sure that it's suitable for the mortgage. We recommend that you arrange a separate valuation too. This will give you peace of mind that the lender has made a fair assessment. There are two options available for this: a Homebuyer's Report or the more comprehensive Building Survey. If that sounds complicated, don't worry ‐ we can recommend independent surveyors you can trust.
  7. You'll get a mortgage offer once the lender is happy with everything. This will be sent to you and your solicitor so together you can check it over carefully before signing. Send it back to the lender and your mortgage is in place.
  8. It's time to exchange contracts with the seller. You'll pay a 10 per cent non-returnable deposit and now you're committed to buying. If you pull out after that, you won't get the deposit back and may have to pay extra costs. As soon as you exchange contracts, it's your responsibility to insure the property so you must have buildings insurance cover.
  9. It can take anything from a few days to a few weeks to complete the sale once you've exchanged contracts. In this time the remaining money (usually the 90 per cent not covered by the deposit) is transferred from your solicitor to the buyer's. On completion day, a few legal details are tied up, you get the keys, and the place is yours.

Top tip: Be prepared

Make sure you arrange insurance early in the process, because you can't exchange without it. We can help you with this and recommend providers.

Getting a mortgage is important, but it doesn't have to be complicated. We'll handle every step for you, deal with all the paperwork and take away all the hassle. Here's a quick overview of how the process works and how we will help you:

  • We'll talk to you in detail about your situation and budget to work out the maximum you can borrow. This will help make sure you're looking for properties in the right price bracket.
  • We'll explain all the documentation we'll need to put together to support your application.
  • Once you've found a property, we'll find your ideal mortgage and manage the application process for you. We'll make it as simple as possible.
  • The lender then carries out a survey to assess the property, and their underwriter will review it all to confirm it's affordable for you. This might include asking for a reference from your employer or accountant
  • Once the lender's happy with all the checks, they'll make a formal mortgage offer. Then we'll help you complete the legal details and exchange contracts with the seller. We'll be there to talk you through every single piece of paper so you don't need to worry about a thing.

Want more detail about the process?

Here's our step-by-step guide
  1. It's best to speak to us before you start looking at properties. We can help you narrow down your search by focusing only on homes within your price range. This will save you time so you find your perfect place quicker.
  2. Here's what will happen when you first meet one of our advisers:
    1. We'll get to know you and how much you already understand about mortgages.
    2. We'll pull together all the information and documents a lender will need from you, ready for when you make an application.
    3. With your permission, we'll carry out a credit check with the lender to produce an Agreement in Principle (AIP).

Top tip: You're in safe hands

We know that making multiple credit checks can affect your credit rating, but don't worry, we are experts in this area. We'll only do what's necessary to make sure you get the best possible mortgage.

  1. Once you've got your AIP, you can start looking for properties with total confidence. You'll know exactly what your budget will cover and what types of home lenders will approve a mortgage for.

Top tip: We're with you all the way

Bear in mind that not all lenders approve mortgages on all types of property. Chat things through with us regularly during your property search and we'll make sure you stay on the right track.

  1. Found a great property and had an offer accepted? That means it's time for another meeting with us. Here's what we'll cover:
    1. We'll recap all the information we put together when we first met. Things move quickly now, so it's important we have all the right documents to hand.
    2. Then we'll go through the fine detail about your lender's policy to give you complete confidence about going forward. The great thing about working with Alexander Hall is that we've got excellent relationships with lenders and we can often speak directly to them to make sure everything is in order. This means no surprises and a much better chance of success.
    3. We'll submit the mortgage application on your behalf. As with everything we do, you don't need to worry about complex paperwork - we'll handle every detail for you.
  • We'll double and triple check your application to make sure that it's as strong as it can possibly be. Once we submit it to the lender, it goes to their underwriter. It's their job to make sure all the documents are in order. They'll also organise a mortgage survey to check the property is something they're happy to lend money for.
  • Top tip: We've got great connections

    1. Because we've built strong relationships in the industry, we can sometimes chat directly to your underwriter. This is a huge help for you because it means we can fine-tune the application to maximise your chances of success.
    2. You'll get a mortgage offer once the lender is happy with your application. The time it takes depends on the lender, but in general it tends to be quicker when you've got a broker like us on your side to work directly with them. We make sure they've got everything they need to make a decision.
    3. Some mortgage brokers finish working with you once you've got your offer. We do things differently at Alexander Hall. We'll stay in touch with you, your estate agent, solicitor and surveyors all the way through to completion. We'll keep in contact with you after that too, making sure that as and when your needs change, your deal remains the most suitable and competitive on the market.

    New build normally means it either hasn't been built yet, or it's been completed but never sold or occupied (including show homes).

    Many mortgage lenders also count new builds as:

    • any conversion (such as a townhouse into flats)
    • a substantially renovated or extended property
    • homes built in the last couple of years

    New builds are a popular choice, particular for first-time buyers. The government also supports new developments with the Help to Buy schemes, and many housing associations offer you the option of shared ownership.

    Read More

    We can help you decide if a new build is the right choice. One benefit is that you can often tailor the specifications to your own taste, and you can move in immediately, no need for any improvements and no previous owners to worry about.

    There are some extra points to consider though, and we can help you think it all through:

    Holding deposit and exchange deadline

    Normally you need to give a holding deposit to the developer when buying a new build. Terms and conditions vary so we'll tell you exactly what to look for when you check through them. One key point is on refunds ‐ will you get the deposit back if you don't secure a mortgage or you change your mind?

    Alongside deposits, the developer will expect you to exchange contracts within a short timeframe, usually four weeks. The developer may let other people reserve a property if this timeframe is not met. Exchanging contracts will commit you and the developer to going ahead, so it is important you get the right mortgage quickly to avoid any last-minute worries.

    This means buying a property based on the specifications, but before it's built. It can take up to 12 months ‐ sometimes longer ‐ for an off‐plan property to be finished and ready for you to move in.

    When buying at this very early stage, it's a good idea to ask your developer when you'd be expected to complete. This is because you might want your mortgage lender to extend or renew their offer, sometimes more than once. You can end up paying multiple additional fees for re‐valuation.

    When you're buying off‐plan, it's a good idea to speak to your mortgage broker to find out what to ask your developer. We can advise you on everything you need.

    What about off‐plan mortgage offers?

    Many mortgage offers are valid for six months. Some lenders' timescales are longer, and others will offer allowances for extending mortgage offers, as long as your circumstances don't change.

    After a certain period, your lender may ask their surveyor to conduct a re‐inspection or re‐valuation of your property. This confirms that the property's expected value is still in line with the amount you need to borrow.

    We give you exclusive access to special new build services from some lenders. These can streamline the whole buying process and improve the likelihood of a successful purchase. They can be particularly helpful when your estimated completion date is far in the future. Give us a call to find out more. We're always happy to help.

    What about deposit requirement and loan to value (LTV)?

    Normally the value of a property can be assessed by looking at how much previous owners bought it for. This sort of information isn't available for a new build though, particularly if it's in an undeveloped area such as a new suburb.

    To increase their security, some lenders will limit the maximum loan to value (LTV) they offer for new build properties. In some cases, additional limitations will also apply if you're buying a flat. This means that to secure a mortgage in these cases, most lenders will need a larger deposit.

    We give you comprehensive access to lenders who will offer you a mortgage on a new build property and those who accept smaller deposits. If you have a 5% deposit, it's also worth considering the help to buy schemes.

    Get in touch and we can talk you through it all.

    In basic terms, this is where one person agrees to buy a property off‐plan, but sells it on before completing. If we talk about Buyer A and Buyer B, this is how it works:

    • Buyer A exchanges contracts and puts down a deposit.
    • Before completing they agree to sell to Buyer B, typically at a higher price.
    • Buyer A “reassigns” the contract to Buyer B.
    • Buyer B now has the rights to complete the transaction.

    If you buy a property on a reassigned contract you could end up paying less that the latest market price. For example, the original buyer could pay £275k, and the property could go up in value to £350k before they decided to sell on the contract. To make a quick sale, they could offer it to you for £325k, so you both get a good deal.

    You also don't have the long completion date often associated with off‐plan purchases, but it does come with additional risks. Many lenders won't offer a mortgage based on contract reassignment, so it's important to seek detailed legal advice from your solicitor and discuss it with your mortgage adviser.

    We give you access to a number of lenders happy to consider contract reassignment purchases, with some limitations. If you want to take this route, feel free to give us a call and talk it through. It's important we know all the details of your purchase, so we can make sure you get the best advice for your particular circumstances.

    Can you buy from abroad through contract reassignment?

    New build developments are an attractive option if you're overseas and want investment property in the UK.

    We give you access to lenders who'll consider applications from non‐UK citizens and UK ex‐pats for both standard off‐plan purchases and contract reassignments.

    If you need to transfer funds to the UK, we recommend our currency exchange partner. Just call us for more details ‐ we're always happy to talk things through.

    What government schemes are available to help me buy my home?

    Over the years, the government has introduced a number of different schemes to help. They are designed to make it easier to own your own home, at a time when property prices are rising faster than many people's incomes.

    The two main schemes currently available are Shared Ownership, which involves a housing association or housing authority, and the government's Help to Buy (HTB) scheme.

    Find out more about help to buy and shared ownership

    Help to Buy (HTB) is a government scheme. It allows first-time buyers of a new build to borrow up to 20% of the property's value (or 40% in London). The loan is directly from the government and you pay the capital back when you sell.

    In 2015, the government launched the HTB ISA, a savings account designed specifically to help you save for your first home deposit. As long as you follow the scheme rules and can prove that you've completed on your purchase, the government will pay a 25% bonus on your saved capital once you close the ISA.

    Find out more about shared ownership

    HTB Equity Loan

    The HTB Equity Loan scheme is available for new build properties with a purchase price of up to £600,000.

    The government will lend you up to 20% of the cost of a brand new home, meaning you only need a 5% cash deposit and a 75% mortgage. The equity loan is interest-free for the first five years. From year six, the government charges a fee of 1.75%, then RPI plus 1% per annum.

    Help to Buy ‐ London

    If your dream is to own a home in the capital, an adapted version of the Equity Loan scheme could be for you. The Government introduced a London-only version of Help to Buy in February 2016, available across all Greater London boroughs. You're eligible if you have a 5% deposit to put down on your new home. This version has an upper loan limit of up to 40% of your purchase price rather than the standard 20%, and works the same as the nationwide scheme.

    With Help to Buy ‐ London, you won't be charged loan fees on the 40% loan for the first five years of owning your home, apart from a nominal monthly £1 per month fee.

    HTB Equity Loan and HTB London ‐ who's eligible?

    They are available if you're a first-time buyer or a homeowner who wants to sell up and move, and you want to buy a brand new home with a purchase price of up to £600,000. You don't qualify if you own any other property, including a second home or any rental properties

    Equity Loan and Help To Buy Loan table comparison

    Scheme 1
    Equity Loan

    Scheme 2
    HTB* London
    Type of property New builds only New Builds Only
    Maximum home purchase £600,000 £600,000
    Minimum deposit 5% 5%
    Maximum home purchase n/a n/a
    Equity loan from Government up to 20% of property value up to 20% of property value
    Scheme fees 1.75% of loan value in sixth year.

    Then RPI + 1% per annum
    £1 a month in the first 5 years 1.75%
    of loan value in sixth year
    Then RPI + 1% per annum
    Mortgage required up to 75% of property value up to 55% of property value
    For first time buyers? Yes Yes
    For existing homeowners? Yes Yes
    For investment properties? No No
    For buy-to-let homes? No No
    For interest-only mortgages? No No
    For repayment mortgages? Yes Yes
    Available from 1st April 2013 1st February 2016
    Available to 2020 TBC

    * HTB = Help To Buy

    * The government will guarantee part of the repayment of the mortgage to the lender, therefore increasing the availability of mortgages at competitive interest rates.



    Scheme 1: Help to buy equity loan example
    For a property worth £200,000 Amount Percentage
    Cash deposit Equity loan Your mortgage
    £10,000 £40,000 £150,000
    5% 40% 75%

    If the home in the table above sold for £210,000, you'd get £168,000 (80%, from your mortgage and the cash deposit) and pay back £42,000 on the loan (20%). You'd need to pay off your mortgage with your share of the money.



    Scheme 2: Help to buy London example
    For a property worth £400,000 Amount Percentage
    Cash deposit Equity loan Your mortgage
    £20,000 £160,000 £220,000
    5% 40% 55%

    If the home in the table above sold for £420,000, you'd get £252,000 (60%, from your mortgage and the cash deposit) and pay back £168,000 on the loan (40%). You'd need to pay off your mortgage with your share of the money.

    If you're a first-time buyer, a Shared Ownership scheme is another useful option. This is how it works:

    • You buy a share of between 25% and 75% of your new home.
    • You pay a subsidised rent on the remaining share to the housing association or housing authority, along with a monthly service charge.

    The share you can purchase will depend on the vendor, what you can afford and the eligibility criteria.

    Who is eligible?

    This can vary slightly between different housing associations. However, shared ownership is normally only available if you're a first-time buyer. Some housing associations also consider non-first time buyers in certain circumstances. This could be if you're buying your first property alone after a divorce or family breakdown.

    Other exceptions will depend upon the housing association's individual terms. Many housing associations require buyers to be UK/EU/EEA citizens while others will consider non-UK citizens, subject to visa status.

    Staircasing

    This means buying additional shares in a Shared Ownership property. You can do this at any time, normally at a minimum of a further 10% share each time. The housing association instructs an RICS surveyor to conduct the valuation and normally as you are the applicant, you pay the valuation fee. The current market value will dictate the price you pay.

    Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)

    When you buy a share in a property, you're liable to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT).

    You can pay it in two ways:

    A one-off payment.
    This is based on the total market value of the property at the time of the original purchase. This is known as making a ‘market value election’.
    In stages.
    You may make your first payment on the price you pay for the lease, but only if it's above the SDLT threshold. Once you increase your share of the property to 80%, you then must pay on both the transaction that took you over that percentage, and any further transactions.

    If you're purchasing a Shared Ownership property, ask your solicitor for advice on which SDLT payment option is best for you.

    We give you access to a number of lenders who'll consider a shared ownership application. Currently, the minimum deposit required is just 5% of the property's full market value.

    See our stamp duty calculator

    There's a common myth that the self-employed find it hard to get a mortgage. While the options will vary, there are a number of competitive solutions. To learn more, it's essential to talk to a knowledgeable mortgage adviser.

    A number of lenders specialise in self-employed mortgages and have developed a range options that rely on different criteria.

    This can include:
    • Lending against your most recent year's income, rather than an average of the last two or three years
    • Lending against your company net profit - rather than just salary and dividends to reach a potentially more positive lending amount
    • Consideration of your daily rate if you're a contractor.

    Lenders will need to see specific documentation if you're self-employed. This will depend on your circumstances and we can advise on exactly what it means for you. It's best to discuss this with us as soon as possible to give you enough time to pull everything together.

    Sole trader, director, contractor or partner?

    The type of self-employed role you have affects how a lender assesses your suitability. Here's a brief overview of the main considerations:

    Sole trader

    Most lenders ask for a minimum of two years' of your full trading accounts and personal HMRC tax overviews. They'll typically also take the average of either two or three years' of your net profit before tax.

    Some lenders will consider an application if you have only one full trading year, though this depends on your circumstances. For example, have you have switched from employed to self-employed in the same line of work?

    In addition to tax overviews, you'll need to provide bank statements showing your trading income. If you use a separate account for business transactions, you'll need to be able to show these account statements to your lender.

    Director

    A lender may class you as employed, but normally only if your share in the company is small. The threshold varies from 5% upwards, but if it's 20% or more, most lenders will consider you as self-employed.

    The lender will usually require additional documentation to show that the business is solvent, and some will take into account your share of profits, in addition to your salary and any dividends.

    Contractor

    While contractors are typically company directors, many lenders acknowledge the fact that these arrangements are not the same as a corporate company director. This is reflected in their tailored affordability assessments.

    Some lenders will assess contractors using the same affordability assessment as any other company director. However, where this limits the borrowing capacity, there are other options available. The lender can undertake an affordability assessment as if you're employed and reference the gross contract daily rate as income. This will be subject to certain conditions, including history and continuity of contracts.

    Partner

    Lenders take a range of approaches to assess income and affordability for partners in firms. The options available to you will depend on a number of factors. These include the particular structure of pay, the percentage equity holding in your partnership and the size and nature of the partnership itself.

    There are tailored options available for partners of different sized firms, ranging from small local businesses to large multi-national firms. You'll need your compensation/drawings/reward statements for the latest year. Ideally, you should have details of the previous one to two years too. You will also need to show details of how you structure your remuneration within the partnership. Lenders may ask for a reference from a senior or managing partner in the business, depending on the circumstances.

    Straight talking mortgage advice

    Call our expert advisers now

    08000 38 37 36