How to buy your first home with your partner

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Sarah Biddlecombe
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Money Mondays is your go-to guide for all the information you need to manage your finances. For this week’s Money Can’t Buy Me Love column, we speak to property experts about how to buy your first home.

Buying your first home with your partner is an exciting move, but one that can be difficult to navigate.

To help guide you through every step of the journey, from securing an agreement in principle (AIP) to finding a solicitor, we spoke to property experts Rea and Tonya, also known as The Property Twins. The pair are experts in everything from lettings and sales, to interior design and investments, and share a combined property portfolio of over £3 million.

Here, they share their advice for getting your first step on the property ladder.

Get your finances in order

The most important thing to start with is obtaining your AIP. You will need this in order to have an offer accepted on your chosen property, so it’s a good idea to have this sorted before you head out on viewings. The AIP is usually valid for six months, which gives you plenty of time to search for your dream home. We recommend visiting a local mortgage broker rather than a bank to obtain this, as you will be given access to various lenders and the best rates.

Make a checklist

Remember that you’re buying a home together, so be prepared to compromise. You will never love exactly the same place but you both need to be happy – after all, this is a big commitment. Write a checklist of important things you need to prioritise before you set off, and consider questions such as:

• What location suits you both?

• Size: how many bedrooms do you need?

• Outside space: do you need a garden?

• Parking: do you need off road?

• Do you want something new or are you keen to find something you can mark your own stamp on?

It’s easy to get carried away and fall in love with a property during the viewing process, but always remember to make sure the property fits with your checklist.

We also recommend registering with your local estate agents directly, to receive up to date alerts on the latest properties for sale.

Consider Shared Ownership?

Check with your local housing association to see what Shared Ownership schemes might be available to you. These schemes allow first time buyers to step on the ladder with a much smaller deposit than is usually required. This enables you to buy a share of your home (between 25% and 75% of the home’s value) and pay rent to the housing association on the remaining share. Be aware that the scheme is usually only available on new build properties, so this will limit your search.

Check with your local housing association website to see what’s available and always seek advice from an independent mortgage adviser who specialises in this area.

Next steps

Once you have found your dream home and your offer has been accepted, you will need to instruct a solicitor. Opt for someone local as you will need to pop in with ID and paperwork, so there’s no point choosing a solicitor who is miles away. They will guide you through the entire process and keep you updated on key stages. The sales process can take around 12 weeks plus, so we suggest you take this time to discuss thoroughly between you the responsibilities of living together.

10 things to consider before you move into your new home

Before making the big move, think about the following:

  1. Write a list of all utilities and costs for running your home: it’s always good to keep a budget spreadsheet.
  2. Search comparison sites online for the lowest home utility rates, as this will ensure you find the best deals out there.
  3. Decide on what each person will contribute to the household financially. What will your share be?
  4. It can be hard running a household but decide from the start what responsibilities you will each take on, such as washing, ironing, taking the bins out and so on. 
  5. Try to keep a reserve pot for unexpected maintenance. Agree an affordable amount that you can each contribute towards an emergency kitty.
  6. Consider purchasing appliance and boiler breakdown insurance to cover you should the worst happen. These are often only a few pounds a month per appliance, so could save you a small fortune in the long run.
  7. If your budget is low, pick out key areas to refurbish first - if necessary, you can always do other rooms later on. The most valuable areas of a home are the kitchen and bathroom so work on these first. You will most likely cover all costs in the value you add to your home by doing these rooms up.
  8. When decorating, pick out rooms you like for inspiration online or in magazines. You will always be able to find a high street version which is much more affordable.
  9. Keep an eye on our website for some of our favorite high street bargains
  10. Most important of all, get a Will. It’s horrible to think about this but you must have a plan set out should something happen to one of you. If you are not married, your share of the property might not necessarily go to your partner, but to your next of kin instead. It’s vital you have a Will in order to protect yourself and your assets in tragic circumstances.

Most importantly of all, enjoy it! Buying your first home is such an exciting thing, so try not to get stressed and enjoy the process together.

Illustration: Samad Jble

Images: Brooke Cagle, William Iven, Landon Martin, Unsplash