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Tips for First-Time Homebuyers

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First time homebuyers with keys

There are a lot of factors to consider throughout the process of purchasing your first home. Whilst it may seem like a daunting undertaking, it can be achieved with careful planning and professional advice. If you are just starting out on the home ownership journey, here are our top tips for first-time homebuyers.

Consider the fees you will need to pay

When purchasing your first home there are various fees and costs that you will need to factor in, including stamp duty (1% of the value under £1 million), the fees charged by your conveyancing solicitor, surveyor fees to check the property’s condition, and possibly mortgage-related fees if you’re borrowing to buy. Additionally, you might have to cover valuation fees, required by the lender to assess the property’s value, and bank charges for setting up the mortgage. It’s important to factor in these costs when you are saving the deposit – which is usually at least 10% of the value of the house.

Consider the lending limits

Ireland’s Central Bank enforces strict lending limits, usually capping mortgages at 4 times the annual gross household income for most borrowers. However, up to 20% of mortgages can exceed this, reaching up to 4.5 times income for low-risk customers—typically higher earners with fewer expenses. This means that most first-time buyers can only borrow up to 4 times their yearly income, making this the primary barrier for many in securing a mortgage. However, there are schemes available to help first-time buyers, such as the HTB.

Consider the Help to Buy (HTB) Incentive scheme

The Help to Buy (HTB) Incentive is a government scheme designed to assist first-time buyers in purchasing or self-building a new house or apartment by providing a refund of income tax and Deposit Interest Retention Tax (DIRT) paid over the previous four tax years. This refund can be used towards the deposit on a home. The maximum relief is the lesser of €30,000, 10% of the purchase price, or the amount of Income Tax and DIRT paid for the past four years. In the 2024 Budget, the Irish government extended the Enhanced Help to Buy Scheme through to 31st December 2025. Further information on this can be found on the Citizens Information website here.

Speak to mortgage specialists

Mortgage specialists can assist first-time buyers by providing expert advice on the range of mortgage products available, helping you to understand the terms and conditions of different mortgage offers. They can also guide you through the application process and help you secure pre-approval for a mortgage. Companies such as provide an abundance of helpful information for first-time buyers, including a mortgage calculator and step-by-step guide.

Prepare the documentation needed to get a mortgage

To get a mortgage, you will need to prepare various documents to prove who you are and your capability to cover the repayments. This includes the following:

  • Proof of identity – such as your passport or driver’s license
  • Proof of address – such as a utility bill or bank statement
  • Evidence of income – including recent payslips, your P60 form, or up to three years of audited accounts for self-employed individuals
  • Bank statements – usually six months to a year + proof of savings and ability to afford a deposit.

Be sure to choose a property that suits your needs

Location is usually key. Consider properties with good transport links, access to amenities, schools, and healthcare facilities, and in an area with strong employment prospects. This will make it easier to sell the property on at a later time and at a higher value. It’s also wise to consider homes that require minimal initial repairs or renovations to avoid unexpected expenses. Energy-efficient homes can offer long-term savings on your utility bills.

Be sure to invest in a structural survey

A structural survey is crucial because it provides a detailed analysis of a property’s condition, highlighting any significant issues such as foundation problems, dampness, or structural weaknesses. This inspection ensures that you are aware of potential repair costs and structural concerns before finalising the purchase. It can also offer negotiation leverage on the price or conditions of sale.

Choose an experienced conveyancing solicitor

Your solicitor will help you to navigate the complex legal aspects of buying your first home. They will draft and review contracts, conduct property searches, liaise with mortgage lenders, ensure compliance with regulations, manage the transfer of funds, and register you as the new owner of the property with the Land Registry. Hiring an experienced conveyancing solicitor will help you save time, reduce stress, and protect against future legal problems.

Need assistance with a property purchase?

If you are planning on buying your first home and would like some guidance on the financial and legal aspects of the process, the conveyancing team at McCarthy + Co Solicitors will be glad to assist you. Call us on 1800 390 555 and we will connect you to a conveyancing professional within our team. You can also email and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

Joseph McCarthy

Joseph has been an integral member of our team since 2013, bringing a unique blend of expertise and dedication to his role. His specialisation lies in private client work, with a focus on conveyancing and probate. In simpler terms, Joseph’s role involves assisting homeowners and prospective homeowners in their property buying or selling journeys. He also offers support in managing the affairs of deceased individuals, guiding next of kin and executors through every stage of the process from the moment of a person’s death. Additionally, Joseph provides assistance in will drafting, ensuring his clients have peace of mind for the future. Joseph also regularly assists clients in creating Enduring Powers of Attorney and advises clients and their families on how to manage circumstances where a person’s mental capacities may be impaired.


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