First-time buyers – how to avoid purchasing a property for more than you can afford

It’s not just getting on the property ladder that’s a struggle for many. In fact, once buyers have managed to get their name on the land registry with their first home, many are unable to afford the mortgage payments and utility bills required to run their homes. A study has found that 45% of consumers who use a payday loan service are using it as an alternative method to fund their home; with one in fifty using loans to cover their rent payment – before they have even got onto the property market.   In 2016, it was reported by Halifax that the intergenerational wealth divide had risen by 10%, meaning that those who are born after 1985 were going to find it 10% harder to purchase a property.

Here’s what homebuyers should be considering when buying a home:

Purchasing fees -The average house deposit required for a house (including stamp duty, valuation, survey fees and conveyancing cost) is estimated to be £22,689. With the mortgage deposit often between 10% to 20% of the property value.  

However, it is the additional legal fees which many often fail to consider when it comes to parting ways with their deposit and paying for other associated costs.

Low credit score -The higher the credit rating, the lower the mortgage interest and the better mortgage products a buyer can access. If a score is lower, than buyers may find that they aren’t being offered the best product.

Overstretching finances - Many lenders will ‘stress test’ a buyer’s finances to see if they will still be able to afford the mortgage if the Bank of England base rate increases to 3% above their current level over the first five years of the loan or their personal finances change. However, while banks carry out this check, buyers should also be taking stock of their finances to ensure that they feel they can comfortably afford to live in the property.

For more help and advice, contact Mark Scott at Positive Impact Finance Solutions today on 01733 306470.


There has been a trend over the last 15 years to top up or even replace your pension provision with the addition of a property portfolio, which is always a good investment, particularly with the low rates which have been achievable with the banks - with four properties in the Fenland area you could be bringing in between £2000 - 3000 per month in rent.

The Government however are now playing catch-up with much needed regulation to ensure safety for tenants and security against so called “rogue landlords” which is no bad thing. There are several current and incoming regulations that could affect your portfolio which many landlords are not aware of, for instance, from April 2018 it would be illegal to let properties with an EPC rating of F or G. This means if you current rating is F or lower you need to get your house in order before that time.

Many landlords are still unaware of the changes in the mortgage interest relief which starts in April this year or the potential benefit of setting up as a limited company when purchasing an investment property. In addition, the recent “Right to Rent” legislation is serious and puts the emphasis on the landlord to make sure the tenant is legally allowed to rent, with penalties being anything from un-limited fines to imprisonment.

Gas safety certificates, carbon monoxide detectors, smoke alarms and legionella health and safety rules are now mandatory with electrical testing coming up shortly. In addition, most landlords are unaware of the rules about accessing a rented property, how much notice should be given and what happens if the tenant refuses entry for example or if they just walk away from the property and don't hand the keys back, what does the law say? - the list seems endless and with landlords facing more changes than ever, it’s not surprising that many find it tricky to keep up. Unfortunately that’s no defence should it all go disastrously wrong.

That’s where a reputable letting agent with years of experience and proper accredited training comes in - they will keep you ahead of the game to make sure you know the pitfalls and make you aware of your responsibilities. So in answer to the question “Why would you use a letting agent”? It's all of the above and more.



Sheila and Emma were so pleased to get flowers from a very happy landlord for going "above and beyond what was expected". All in a days work.........


Below are all the details of our Chatteris and March office Christmas and New Year opening hours plus emergency contact numbers for tenants. May we wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Monday 19th – Thursday 22nd December - NORMAL HOURS

Friday 23rd December - 9am – 4pm
Saturday 24th December - CLOSED
Sunday 25th December - CLOSED
Monday 26th December - CLOSED
Tuesday 27th December - CLOSED
Wednesday 28th December - 9am – 5pm
Thursday 29th December - 9am – 5pm
Friday 30th December - 9am – 5pm
Saturday 31st December - CLOSED
Sunday 1st January - CLOSED
Monday 2nd January - CLOSED
Tuesday 3rd January - NORMAL HOURS

Shaun Amps Plumbing – 07979 711 831
Anglian Water 0845 714 5145
James Locke (Electrician) – 07825 688 350
Chris Wright (Locksmith) – 07776 325 878


One of the most frequently asked questions following “Congratulations, your offer has been accepted” is “what do I need to do now?”


An important item on your checklist should be to make sure your new purchase is as expected with regards to its general condition. This is where an accurate survey report is invaluable. There are several levels of a report that can be commissioned but in this article we concentrate on the ‘Building Survey Report’.


Formerly known as a Structural Survey, a Building Survey Report is an in depth inspection of all accessible elements of a property. It provides an evaluation of the condition of a property and will suggest which aspects might need maintenance or further specialist investigation.


The Reports are compiled by chartered surveyors and usually cost from £600 for a small flat to £1,500 for a larger property. They do not usually comment on the value of the property and they should not to be confused with a Homebuyers Report which is similar to a mortgage valuation which is often required by any company you are using to raise finance for your purchase. Mortgage companies may not require a Building Survey Report but you almost always do!


There are only a handful of occasions when we wouldn’t recommend getting a Building Survey Report but, with all purchases now costing a substantial amount, these are few and far between.


The report’s primary purpose is to draw attention to anything unsuspected or unusual that wasn’t evident to the layman when you viewed the property. That could be, for example, subsidence or a roof at the end of its life.  It is far better to be aware of potential costs as soon as possible so you can buy accordingly.


Building Survey Reports are often long, complex documents so consider meeting the surveyor on site so he or she can talk, and walk, you through any issues. Give yourself plenty of time to read the whole report, highlight any problems and be realistic. Your Building Survey Report is a key ally and it will help you to keep your property in perfect health for years to come.


Mike Ellis, director at Ellis Winters & Co in March sheds some light on why sales transactions can take so long to complete and how to speed them up!


“I've been an estate agent for more years than I care to remember but, throughout that time, there has always been a cloud of mystery over why a sales transaction takes so long.


“In essence a buyer needs three things before they are ready to exchange contracts: a local search, an approved contract and a mortgage offer.


“Let's break these down into their constituent parts because they can actually all be done at the same time. A building society survey should be done within the first couple of weeks of the sale being agreed, with a mortgage offer coming out a week or two later. Local searches take two to four weeks and an approved contract should take four to six weeks. 


“So there should be no reason why contracts should not be ready to exchange within six weeks and yet the average length of time from sale agreed to exchange is 11 weeks. You’d think that with modern communications such as mobiles and email the process would surely be quicker today than 30 years ago. However, you may be surprised to know that the average length of time for a transaction in the 1980s was yes, you guessed it, 11 weeks!


“Because of our increasingly litigious nature, there are more hoops for a solicitor to jump through to ensure things are done properly and therefore less chance of them being sued. But still, these extra weeks cannot be explained.


“So how can you speed this process up? For me it's clear. Instructing the right estate agent who will not only sell your property but is used to dealing with solicitors and has the experience to solve any problems that crop up. 


“Your agent must do a proper job in qualifying the buyer to ensure they can proceed with the purchase; due diligence at this stage is paramount. Instruct your solicitor early i.e. when you first go on the market so they can get the mundane things out of the way such as your ID and formal instructions. Ask your solicitor to email any questions rather than posting them and reply as quickly as you can. Finally, tell you solicitor your expectations of timescales and make sure they stick to them!”