The Quantum Guide for First Time Buyers

You’re ready to buy your very first house? And looking to buy a house in York?

We’ve put together this new guide to help you ask the right questions to navigate the world of homeownership. By following this step-by-step process, you’ll be able to find the perfect home.

What kind of house do I want?

street with houses

The first thing to consider is what you need from your future home, and which area of York you want to live in. Everyone is different and will need different things from their home, based on factors like family, career and personal preferences.

Start by establishing a few specific areas of York, and then your priorities for the house and the surrounding area:

If you have children (or are planning to have them at some point in the future) you will need at least one extra bedroom.

Also if you have children, you need to think about school catchment areas.

A back garden requires maintenance, but it also provides a place to socialise, enjoy the outdoors and put a little distance between you and the surrounding houses.

If you like to cook, you will want more kitchen space, and if you entertain a lot, a more spacious lounge will be a priority.

If you depend on a good internet connection, you’ll want an area with good internet coverage.

If you want to extend the house, you’ll need to find out about planning permission.

If you rely on public transport to commute to work, you’ll want to research what transport options are in the area.

If you have one or more cars, you should think about where you will park them.

Regardless of your living situation, you should think about shops, transport connections and other amenities.

What is my price range?

piggy bank

Any aspiring homeowner needs to be realistic about what they can afford; buying a house that’s too expensive can mean you struggle to pay for holidays, bills, or even your mortgage. When buying a house you’ll need to put down a deposit. The majority of people opt for a house deposit at 10% of a property’s value. Though the bigger your deposit is, the cheaper your mortgage payments will be. Take a detailed look at your income and expenses to establish how much you can save each month. Give yourself a realistic financial goal to work towards over a period of time.

You may also be eligible for help from the government, through schemes like Help to Buy.

When saving for your deposit, make sure to put some money aside for emergencies and recreational activities. Saving for a deposit can take a long time (and necessitate some sacrifices) but that doesn’t mean you can’t anticipate both the bad and good things life can bring in the meantime.

You can also use tools like this mortgage affordability calculator to make this part of the process easier.

What kind of mortgage do I want?

stacked coins

A mortgage is a legal agreement between you and a bank or building society; one of these lends you money (plus interest), which you then pay back over several years. Failing to pay the mortgage means the bank takes ownership of your property, so making sure you can meet these payments is vital. Getting the right mortgage can be extremely complicated; start by deciding what kind of mortgage you want to apply for.

The first thing to consider is whether you want a repayment or interest mortgage:

  ·  Repayment has you paying off a chunk of your debt and some of the interest you owe.

  ·  Interest has you pay off just the interest in the short term. However, since you have to later pay off the debt anyway (and make a separate plan for this) repayment mortgages are   typically the most popular option.

You also have to decide whether you want a mortgage with a fixed rate or a variable rate.

With a fixed rate a lender gives you a special deal on your mortgage over a relatively short length of time (e.g. five years). This means that even if the interest rates of other houses for sale change, the amount of interest you pay in that window stays the same.

With a variable rate, the amount of interest you pay can go up and down, presenting you with unforeseen costs.

What should I think about when getting a mortgage?

person signing document

People looking at houses for sale should consider getting a decision in principle (also known as an agreement in principle or a mortgage promise). This is a certificate from a lender that says they would lend money to you (in principle) based on some basic information. While this isn’t any kind of guarantee, it can make you appear more attractive to a potential buyer.

A key part of getting your mortgage is your credit rating. This affects your chances of getting any kind of loan (including a mortgage) so it’s important you know exactly how good it is. Equifax, Experian or Call Credit can provide you with a credit report; a breakdown of what a lender sees when reviewing your mortgage application.

It’s worth getting a few different credit reports since different companies may have slightly different information. You will also need to scrutinise each one to make sure there are no errors.

As well as a good credit score, mortgage providers want to see proof of income, minimal debts and as few old, unused accounts as possible. This is on top of as big of a deposit as you can muster.

A great way to find the right mortgage is to enlist the services of a mortgage broker. This is a qualified professional that finds you the best mortgage, whilst justifying why it’s the best for your situation. They can also give you practical advice on the variety of mortgages that are out there.

What should I consider when viewing houses for sale?

magnifying glass

When looking at houses for sale in York, keep these questions and concerns in mind so you can make an informed decision about the property you’re viewing.

-What time are you viewing the house? Viewing it in the morning gives you plenty of time to look around, but what is the house like at the end of the school day? At rush hour? In the evening? Think about what the house is like around the clock, not just when it’s convenient to view it.

-What is the exterior of the house like? Is there any visible damage to the roof, fencing, windows or doors? Are the gutters and drains in good condition? Do the locks look sturdy? Will the garden be easy to keep tidy?

-What is the interior of the house like? Can you see any damp or condensation? Are phone and mains sockets in convenient locations? Is there any serious damage like cracked walls or exposed wiring? Is there enough storage space for you? What is phone and internet reception like? (This is something you can ask Quantum during the viewing).

-What condition are appliances in? When was the boiler last serviced? How old if the boiler? Do taps work properly? How many smoke alarms does the property have? Has any building work been done on the property lately?

What jargon can I expect?


Buying a house involves a lot of technical language. As a first time buyer, all the jargon can be a bit overwhelming at first.

Here are some of the terms you might come across:


The sequence of people buying and selling property. A person might need to sell a house before they can buy a new one, for example. As a first time buyer without a property to sell your transaction will be referred to as ‘chain free’.


How much of the property you actually own (after buying that is). When you first move in you own your deposit. This amount is then known as your equity. As time moves on and you fulfil your mortgage payments, your equity grows, as you own more and more of the house. This is why a large deposit is recommended, as you then have a high equity and a smaller loan to pay back to your mortgage provider. Calculate your equity by subtracting the amount of your loan you owe from the market value of your house.


A report from a building surveyor, to determine a property’s value and if it is structurally sound.

There are two types of surveys and the decision of which one to go for depends on the property you are buying. The standard survey to review if a property is structurally sound is often commissioned by your mortgage provider when you’ve agreed on a price with the seller. This survey confirms that the house is inhabitable.

A homebuyer survey is similar but more in-depth than the structurally sound survey. The mortgage provider is unlikely to provide this and a lot of people choose to commission this survey themselves. It provides information on any repair work that is needed for a house and is often used for older houses rather than new builds.


Expenses paid by a solicitor on behalf of a buyer, like stamp duty and Land Registry charges.

Land registry charges

Legal aspect of you owning the piece of land your house is on. There are two types once again, a freehold and a leasehold estate. With the freehold, you buy the land as part of buying the house. A leasehold estate means that you are leasing the land your property is on and there is a specific time period attached to how long you are able to be on this land.

Stamp Duty 

A tax you pay when buying a house worth more than £125,000.


This is when the seller of a property accepts a higher offer from a buyer after an initial offer from somebody else. This is an entirely legal practice since you don’t own a property until you exchange a written contract with the seller.

Completion Date

The date you become the owner of a property.

As you can see, finding the right home is no easy task. But when you buy with Quantum, buying a house in York becomes a lot easier.

We’re proud to offer a wide selection of houses for sale in the York area, and our team brings in-depth local knowledge to any house hunt. You can also browse our selection of houses for sale in York on the Quantum website, or find them on the UK’s biggest property portals including Rightmove, Zoopla and Primelocation.

If you’d like to speak to us directly about a certain area of York, visit our Get in Touch page now for all our contact details.

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