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Everything You Need to Know as a First-Time Buyer

     1. What is a mortgage?

Although most wish to buy a property with only their own money, not many first-time buyers are affluent enough to do so. Thus, in order to finance the property, they decide to take out a mortgage.

In layman’s terms, a mortgage is a type of loan that’s secured against a property someone wants to buy. When someone says they have a mortgage, it means they had to borrow an amount of money in order to buy the home, and they now have to give it back, i.e., repay it.

Before getting a mortgage, the buyer agrees to a repayment schedule, which is decided based on what the buyer can afford. However, if they fail to make payments and respect the schedule, they may lose their home, as it can be repossessed.

Thus, we can also say that a mortgage is a form of security. In order for the lender to be sure their money will be paid back, they have to set up some ground rules to get the payments. In addition, they also charge either a fixed or a variable interest rate on the loan.

     2. What is a fixed-rate mortgage?

In order to have some peace of mind, buyers often choose to get a mortgage with a fixed interest rate. What this means is that they will agree to monthly repayments and an interest rate that won’t change for a set period. As such, they won’t have to worry about not having enough money to make the next payment.

However, although repaying the loan at a fixed interest rate sounds ideal, this also means that the amount of money the buyer has to give every month won’t change. Thus, a fixed-rate mortgage may prove to be costlier over a more extended period.

     3. What is a variable rate mortgage?

In contrast to a fixed-rate mortgage, a variable rate mortgage offers a lot more flexibility to first-time buyers. Instead of making fixed monthly repayments, buyers can increase them and even pay off the whole mortgage or at least a part of it with one bigger payment.

In fact, they can also re-mortgage but not pay fixed-rate breakage fees.

But this type of mortgage can also be a problem for some owners. There is no peace of mind here, as the repayments can plummet or surge at any given time and for as long as the loan is valid.

     4. How much is each monthly repayment?

It’s difficult to determine the amount you will have to pay each month. It depends on:

– The size of the loan

– The interest rate

– The length of the mortgage.

     5. How much can I borrow?

Figuring out how much you can borrow is difficult because the amount depends on your ability to pay the loan (or rather, your capacity), as well as your income. Therefore, each buyer will be assessed individually to determine the maximum amount.

However, the maximum mortgage you can get is usually 3.5 times the buyer’s gross annual income and 80% of the value of the property they want to buy. Still, it can vary. In fact, the limit varies depending on whether someone is a first-time buyer if they intend to buy in order to let, etc. Thus, for those who are buying a home for the first time, the mortgage may be 90% of the value of up to a €220,000-worth property. Meanwhile, it can also be 70% for buy-to-let properties.

     6. How much is the length of a mortgage?

Every mortgage has a life span or term. In general, everyone abides by a simple rule: the shorter the mortgage, the faster you repay it, and vice versa. However, this also means that monthly repayments are higher with shorter terms.

First-time buyers can get mortgages that last up to 35 years. Meanwhile, those who want to trade up or down can get a 30-year mortgage. What’s important to remember, though, is that a mortgage can never go past age 70.

     7. What is an LTV ratio?

LTV stands for loan-to-value, and it is a ratio that tells you how much mortgage you have in comparison to the worth of the property. It’s a percentage that shows how much you own and how much the pure mortgage is.

Calculating the LTV ratio is easy. For example, if the house you’re looking to buy costs €200,000, and you get a mortgage that’s worth €150,000, the LTV ratio is 75%. Thus, the equity part, i.e., the part that’s yours, equals €50,000.

     8. What will the lenders use as criteria for mortgage approval?

Although each lender can consider various factors to decide if you can get a mortgage or not, the most common ones are:

– Age (you have to be at least 18 years old, and you also cannot be 70 years old at the end of the mortgage term)

– Repayment capability — the lender needs to know you can repay the mortgage. However, know that the repayment on any loan shouldn’t be over 35% of the borrower’s net income

– Steady employment and whether you have worked for the same employer for at least two years (kept continuous employment)

– Good account management

– Credit history (lenders value good credit scores)

This type of information will help the lender decide if they should approve the mortgage. Nevertheless, it has been shown that the repayment capacity is the most crucial factor.

     9. How big of a deposit does a mortgage require?

For each mortgage, you’ll have to pay a deposit. According to central bank deposit rules, a first-time buyer would have to pay 10%. Thus, if the property is worth €300,000, the deposit is 10% of that — €30,000.

    10. Is there anything I should pay attention to when getting a mortgage?

The most important things you ought to remember when taking out a mortgage are mortgage protection and home insurance.

In order to secure contents, buildings, and private homes, buyers have to arrange property home insurance. The amount they’ll have to pay for it usually depends on two factors:

– If the house had to be rebuilt, how much would it cost?

– If all the contents of the house got destroyed, went missing or anything similar, how much would it cost to replace them?

In contrast, mortgage protection, or mortgage insurance, is related to you specifically. It’s important to have it because, even though it’s unlikely, there is a chance that you could die before the mortgage is repaid in full. Thus, most lenders ask for it. In essence, it is a type of life assurance that lasts for as long as the mortgage lasts. If the borrower or the joint borrower dies, this insurance provides the lender with the remainder of the loan before the mortgage term ends.