Getting that all-important first foot on the property ladder and starting a family – two of the biggest decisions that people make in life and two occasions when they can so often be heard to ask ‘Is there ever a perfect time?’ and wish that they had a crystal ball.
At the end of the day, investing in a first home will always require a slight ‘leap of faith’, because none of us can ever know precisely what is around the corner and how our circumstances might change in the future. We can either let that thought paralyse us into inactivity and spend the rest of our lives pouring money down the drain as we pay out month after month for extortionate rental payments, or we can take our courage in both hands and take the plunge. Having said this, there are of course times when market conditions are more favourable than at others and the knack of making a good investment is in being able to spot those times…and then taking a deep breath and jumping in feet first.
So, how does all this relate to first-time buyers who are thinking about making their move? Well first of all, the government has of course offered a helping hand by temporarily removing the 1% stamp duty on property purchases up to £250,000. While some believe that the maximum gain of £2,500 will do little to help first-timers, it does go a long way towards paying the legal fees and removal costs which would normally have to be found above and beyond the deposit on the property.
In terms of house prices, the aim should naturally be to ‘buy low and sell high’. Although certain areas prices increases earlier this year, the biggest rises being in London and the South East, most experts agree that a price boom is unlikely anytime soon. In fact, most predictions are that prices will remain pretty flat throughout 2011. One thing is for sure though, and that is that they will inevitably begin to rise at some time in the future, so for those in a position to buy now while prices are still low, the market certainly offers some great opportunities.
The restriction on mortgage lending is one of the biggest bugbears at the moment, as are the hefty deposits that buyers are being expected to find. The Bank of England, however, did announce that it expects the situation to ease slightly during the coming few months, with not only more deals becoming available, but also smaller deposits being required. For those who already have a bit put by, this could open up more opportunities and sooner than expected.
So, is there ever a perfect time to buy your first home? Well, certainly some times are better than others, and for those who are in a position to buy before prices begin to spiral out of reach again, now could well be as good a time as any.