First Time Buyer House

publication date: Dec 23, 2010
author/source: Kate Faulkner, Property Expert and Author of Which? Property Books

First Time Buyer House

If you are first time buyer it can be confusing trying to understand what is the best house for a first time purchase. For example, should you buy a flat for the first time or a house with a garden? Where should you buy? Close to town or out in the sticks? Is an old house that needs a lot of work a good idea for first time buyers?

Below we have summarised the pros and cons of houses for first time buyers:-

New Build
Typically a new build property will be a bit more expensive than a second hand one (although not during the current recession). The other downside is the plot they come with is smaller. There is a myth that new builds are ‘smaller’ than second hand properties. This actually isn’t true. Most new builds have the same room sizes as a two or three bed Victorian or 1950s property. The reason they ‘look’ bigger is they tend to come with more outside space and Victorian properties have higher ceilings.

The advantages of a new build house for first time buyers is they will often help you buy the property with incentives and progressing the purchase for you. New build properties tend to be built with better eco friendly credentials so as a first time buyer house, it costs less to heat and as it’s new they have the advantage of lower maintenance bills.

Doer Upper
A house for first time buyers that needs doing up can be a really good idea. Hopefully you will get money off the property and by a lot of hard graft you can do it up and ‘add value’. It might help you buy in an area you couldn’t otherwise afford and it can be great fun getting stuck into a renovation project! But be warned, many houses requiring renovation are sold for more than they are worth even when they are done up. The reason being is people underestimate the cost of the work required and then over value the property when they’ve finished – so be warned!

Doer uppers can become a massive drain on your finances with ‘unexpected problems’ and bills you had no idea you’d need to pay for and you can then end up stuck in a trap of not being able to do the work and not being able to sell it as it’s not a ‘wreck’ and it’s not a ‘perfect property’.

Many first time buyers, particularly in towns and cities buy a flat. This can be a good purchase for first time buyers as you don’t have to worry about a garden typically and they can be very warm as they benefit from heating above and below.

The problem for first time buyers with flats is that legally they cost more to buy than a freehold property (normally around £100) and this can slow up the purchase as the solicitor has to deal with the leasehold document which can be an extra legal step requiring wading through 30 or more pages of legals!

The other downside of a flat is that if something needs doing on the block, for example the water tanks replacing or windows upgrading, depending on how the service charge works you could get hit with a bill of thousands of pounds – so make sure you check out what costs are likely over the next five years if you are considering buying a flat as a home for the first time.

Finally flats often incur expensive service charges that you pay out every month/year which could be as much as several thousand pounds. That’s quite a lot of maintenance money you could spend on a house you buy, so make sure you compare the cost of buying and owning a flat versus a house before you go ahead.

Where should first time buyers live?

Many potential first time buyers are keen to live as near to a town centre as possible. There isn’t anything wrong with this except that when it comes to owning a property, if they are in a good area they are often very expensive and some of the ‘not so good areas’ might be a bit scary to live in!

It’s important as a first time buyer to weigh up what is more important to you. Living near the city centre and going out with your mates every night or buying a home and then paying a bit extra to travel into the city once or twice a week, but with the satisfaction of knowing that for as long as you are paying the mortgage for, it’s your property and no-one elses!


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