7 Key Things to Know if You’re Trying to Get on the Property Ladder

Things to Know Before Buying a Property

Those of you that follow @CocosTeaParty on Instagram may have noticed I’m currently trying to get on the property ladder. After years of living with my parents and saving like a mad woman, I finally began my search in January of this year. It’s been a draining, emotional and truly terrifying process. And there’s been so much to learn along the way. So far I’ve had two offers rejected and about four nervous breakdowns. But I’m hanging in there!

If you’re currently in the same boat (or hope to be soon), here are 7 of the most important things to know before buying a property…

1. London is SO expensive

Obviously I knew this already. Everyone knows London is expensive. But until I started my property search I didn’t realise quite how expensive London is. I don’t think anything will prepare you for that. For the price of a parking space in London (yes, you read that correctly, a parking space) you can get a 3-bedroom house elsewhere in the UK. And I have flirted with the idea of moving outside of London. But it’s the city that I grew up in, it’s where my family live, and it’s also the most convenient location for me when it comes to work.

2. Buying when you’re self-employed can be tricky

Getting a decent mortgage offer when you’re self-employed is a lot harder than I thought it would be. It doesn’t necessarily matter if you have a good, steady income. Many banks will still see you as a “risky” candidate. And things get even more complicated when you make the jump from Sole Trader to Ltd Company. So be prepared to come up against a few extra hurdles if you’re self-employed/freelance. And this leads nicely onto my third observation…

Tips for Getting on the Property Ladder

3. It’s worth investing in a good mortgage consultant

I started working with a mortgage consultant about 6-weeks into my property search, and it’s been a complete game-changer. Basically, it had become startlingly clear that I wouldn’t get anywhere on the mortgage my bank had offered. So I spoke to two mortgage advisers on the phone. The first gave me really bad vibes, but second was recommended by a family friend and has been an absolute saviour. He’s so generous with his time and happily answers all of my stupid questions. And, the best part is, he’s been able to get me much better mortgage offers. So his fee has been 100% worth it.

4. Estate agents are bizarre, but you need to become BFFs with them. So suck it up!

Estate agents by and large have a pretty bad reputation. And through my experience I’ve come to understand why so many people hate them. They can be ridiculously annoying (I’ve had agents call my mobile to tell me they’re about to send me an email – it’s time wasting to the extreme). However, I’ve also come across estate agents who are incredibly helpful. And, really, you need them to be on your side. So even if you all the bravado irritating as hell put on your friendliest smile, suck it up and charm the pants off them. Because if you build up a relationship they’ll always fight your corner and make sure you view new properties first.

5. There are lots of extra costs associated with buying

Again, I knew this, but I didn’t fully know it. As a buyer in the UK you pay Stamp Duty (you can calculate the costs here). And you’ll also need to pay for a solicitor, a survey of the property, removal trucks and anything else you might need. So calculate these costs first and factor them into your budget before you start your property search. (FYI, it’s wise to have a solicitor in place before you make any offers, because organised buyers are far more attractive to sellers).

Tips for First Time Buyers

6. Searching for a desirable property is no different than searching for a desirable man on Tinder

You spend hours aimlessly scrolling through Rightmove/Tinder. You enquire about the property/man. You plan to view/meet those that look the most interesting. If they make a good first-impression you’ll arrange a second viewing/date. You’ll make your offer/show your interest. They’ll play hard to get. If you’re lucky your offer is eventually accepted/you begin dating. If you’re not lucky they go with a higher bidder/ghost you.

7. It’s all about finding the right kind of compromise

I’ve watched my fair share of Location, Location, Location. So I always knew I was going to have to compromise. And I’m happy to. The struggle is finding the right kind of compromise. I don’t believe the perfect apartment exists, so I’m not searching for the impossible. However, I also don’t believe in settling for something you don’t truly love. So, for me, the hunt continues. Wish me luck…


Outfit Credits: Joules jacket c/o | Next T-shirt c/o | J Brand jeans | Anthropologie bag (past season – similar here) | AND/OR belt | Next shoes c/o | Aspinal of London keychain


Are you currently trying to get your foot on the property ladder too? And if you’ve already bought a home, what do you think are the most important things to know before buying a property? Leave a comment below to have your say…

  • Good luck on finding the perfect place!

    • cocos_tea_party

      Thank you so much! Fingers crossed it doesn’t take much longer…

  • cocos_tea_party

    Hi Laura. I’m so pleased this was helpful. And, yeah, I hadn’t really considered them either, but it can be around 10K when all added together, depending on the stamp duty you end up paying.

    I hope your search goes well once you’re ready to start looking. xx

  • Oh gosh, I remember that stress well! Like London, Cambridge is horrendously expensive, but the number of properties available in the city is also tiny (as the University owns most of the real estate), so places were selling within minutes of hitting the market. For this reason we had to literally impulse buy our flat, so it helped that we already had our mortgage pre-approved and knew what our budget was, had a solicitor in place, and had calculated the fees we’d be up for re: legal fees, surveys and stamp duty so we knew what we could and couldn’t offer. We ended up pouring all our savings into the deposit which meant hardly any money for furniture the first few months (but also meant we could take our time and find what we really wanted, rather than buying everything at Ikea in one hit), but it was worth it in the end.

    Good luck with your hunt!!

    Briony xx

    • cocos_tea_party

      Oh gosh, “impulse buying” a flat sounds so stressful. But it’s good to know it all worked out well for you in the end. And I’m fully expecting to be too poor for furniture once I do actually buy haha. xxx