First-time buyer: Should I wait before buying my first home?

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First-time buyers are wondering whether changes to the housing market since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic means it is a good or bad time to buy right now. has put together a guide to advise you if you should wait to buy for your first home?

The property market across Britain came to a halt as the coronavirus lockdown was implemented in March.

Property sales in most of England have swiftly rebounded to similar levels as before lockdown, while Scottish and Welsh markets remain frozen.

Property website Zoopla said pent-up demand has led to firmer prices with the average asking price of sales agreed in the last week being some six percent higher than the same week in June last year.

Zoopla’s figures are in sharp contrast with those from Nationwide, which last week said house prices across the UK were falling at the fastest rate since the financial crisis.

London’s market has however failed to rebound effectively with property experts claiming buyers are seeking properties outside the capital instead.

Sales of property in London remain 24.8 percent lower than the week ending March 8, just before the coronavirus lockdown, even though the market has been open for four weeks.

Zoopla said: “New sales agreed have rebounded and are just 12 percent short of the levels seen in early March as buyers return to the market and agree to new purchases; we have seen the number of new sales agreed rise by 137 percent since the market reopened.”

Property website Rightmove last month reported a surge in searches for countryside properties in commuter belt areas where people could split their working week between home and office once life starts to return to normal.

Troy Homes CEO Richard Werth said the property market has been impacted by the coronavirus crisis.

He told “It is too early to know the longer term impact on home prices from coronavirus but it is likely to create increased interest.

“There will be pent-up demand for homes from those who wanted to move but couldn’t because of the lockdown, as well as a new demand for homes from people who now are reconsidering their lives based on the new way of working.

“This could favour homes that can cater for spaces to work, fast internet, outside space and chill-out areas.”

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Is now a good time to buy for first-time buyers?

In some circumstances now is a good time to buy for first-time buyers.

One benefit of buying in the current market is that valuers will be exercising caution with their valuations.

This means there is likely to be attractive rates, especially given the base rate reduction recently.

Chris Evans, Head of Specialist Mortgages at Pure Commercial Finance, told “If they have the deposit available, then it would be great for first-timers to make the most of the improved rates that are likely to become available.

“The upside of seizing these opportunities as quickly as possible for the wider market is that, the more people that buy as soon as possible, the quicker ‘complete normality’ will return to mortgage lending products as the confidence in the market will grow back.”

But many have expressed concern about mortgage lenders’ willingness to lend to first-time buyers in the current economic climate, but Mr Evans said this is unlikely to affect buyers hugely.

He said: “Mortgages for first-time buyers will always be underwritten in a way that assesses the risk to the lender and affordability for the buyer.

“There may be some additional scrutiny on income in terms of how sustainable it is, lenders may opt to ignore all income that has come from either overtime and annual bonuses until things start to settle down, and they also may look more into the sustainability of the industry that you work in.

“All of these questions are to ensure that the loan would remain affordable, to protect all those involved with the transaction.”

Speaking of whether banks are willing to lend in the current climate, Mr Evants added: “As the products may seem harder to get due to the situation with valuers and additional scrutiny of the income, bankers may be less likely to lend to those without a larger deposit or stable income. “However, if lenders can accept the risk, there will plenty of products available for first-time buyers. “Over time, the additional scrutiny on income will loosen as the economy returns to normal.”

Mr Werth said: “First-time buyers who want to use Help to Buy need to get on with buying a home now before this incentive ends.

“Those who are not intending to use Help to Buy should make decisions in the same way as they would have done pre-coronavirus by considering affordability and the cost of moving.

“However, their selection of home may now be influenced by the greater demands needed from homes – for example, outdoor space may now be a priority when it may not have been before.

“First-time buyers should only wait to buy if they are concerned about financial or job issues.

“Otherwise, they should continue to look around as the supply may shrink and demand will continue.”

However, first-time buyers may struggle with loan-to-value (LTV) products.

Mr Evans said: “One major stumble is that many lenders may take more time releasing their 95 percent LTV products, meaning most lenders are only offering products that require larger deposits, which of course will make it more difficult for first-time buyers that may not have this.”

Mr Werth added that the changes to the property market amid Brexit have been compounded by the current crisis.

He said: “Brexit created a slowdown in the housing market in 2019. This pent-up demand was felt at the start of 2020 but was then stopped with lockdown.

“First-time buyers should find a home to live in rather than merely as an investment.

“It is, therefore, more important to find the right home rather than wait until they think the economic conditions are right.”

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