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Buying your first property can be a very daunting and stressful affair in the current climate, and it is vital that first time buyers are prepared and gain as much knowledge as possible before taking the plunge. Whilst the number of first time buyers getting onto the property ladder at present has dropped due to the global credit crunch, falling house prices, and lack of mortgages, there are still some buyers that want to try and get onto the property ladder, and for this group thorough research is vital.

Affordability is an important factor to consider when it comes to purchasing your first home, as if you struggle with money you could find that the property is taken off you before you know it. There are a number of different areas to look at when it comes to your finances. Lending criteria varies from one lender to another, and the amount that you will be able to borrow based on your earnings will differ between lenders. Do your research and find out how much you can borrow, so that you know what sort of property you will be able to look at.

There are many different upfront costs that you need to take into account, and these will help to determine whether you can afford to take out the mortgage. Some of the costs that you may have to fund upfront include the arrangement fee on the mortgages, the deposit, and fees such as solicitor's fees. On top of the upfront fees you also need to make sure that you can afford the monthly repayments on the mortgage comfortably, as otherwise you could end up losing your home if you start getting into arrears. Go through your income and outgoings thoroughly to see if the repayments are affordable.

In order to boost your chances of getting the property that you want ask the lender to send confirmation of approval of the mortgage loan in the post, as you can use this to show the seller that you already have a mortgage arranged.

In the current financial climate most lenders are asking for a considerable deposit even from first time buyers, and this means that you may have to fork out a fortune upfront. However, also remember that the higher the deposit level you put down the less you are at risk of negative equity from falling house prices. Don't forget that when you are working out affordability over mortgage repayments you need to also ensure that you can afford to pay monthly bills, shopping costs, and other costs associated with home ownership.

When it comes to whether to go for a variable or fixed rate mortgages you should remember that whilst interest rates are still set to fall at present you may enjoy more stability and peace of mind from a fixed rate mortgage, at least for the first few years.

Author : Alisdair Cosgrove
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