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Buying property tips: First time buyers

When buying a new home it is important to stick to a budget. However do not try to save money when it comes to having a survey commissioned. A few hundred pounds spent now could prevent you buying a property that needs costly repairs in the near future.

It's impossible to avoid surveys altogether because your mortgage lender will insist you have a basic one done. The lender may charge you for this - usually around £250 - or it may offer the service for free. It will probably instruct its own surveyor who will report back to the lender, not to you.

This kind of survey is done simply to assess the value and suitability of the property as security for a mortgage. It may highlight any major structural problems but cannot be relied upon to spot anything other than superficial problems. You will probably have noticed any of these major problems yourself anyway when visiting the property.

To learn more about the property you need to commission a more-in-depth survey - either a homebuyer's report or a buildings survey. In most cases a homebuyer's report will be sufficient. The standardised survey offers an assessment of the general condition of the property, its value and any causes for concern.

Building Surveys
A more detailed survey will need to be completed for older homes. A buildings survey can cost up to £1,000, again depending on the value of the property. The format will depend on the firm of surveyors you have chosen. As well as reporting on the structural condition of the property, a buildings survey will indicate the need and cost of essential repairs and can therefore provide the basis for obtaining quotes for such work. For further information look to the Royal Institute of chartered Surveyors (RICS). RICS is one of the most respected and high profile global 'standards and membership' organisations for professionals involved in land, valuation, real estate, construction and environmental issues.

There are a number of other kinds of specialist report which can be undertaken by experts in their specialist field, such as damp proofing, foundation work, timber treatment, drainage etc. In many cases such surveys are undertaken free of charge as a part of the firm's quotation for the repair work.

See our guide to mortgages for a simple guide to the common types of mortgages available. It is worth noting that as the property market continues to expand the market for mortgages is strongly competitive. As a consequence rates for first time buyers are getting better and better and preferential deals can be found by shopping around.

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