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First time buyers guide

Buying your first home can be both exciting and daunting. But it doesn’t have to be difficult. We have been helping people buy their own homes for over 170 years, here's our guide to help you into your home.

So you're thinking of buying your first home?

A home of your own is most people’s dream, but it isn’t a necessity. Millions of people in the UK own their own homes but many choose to rent. Before you make what is likely to be the biggest financial commitment of your life, let’s make sure it’s definitely the right thing for you.

Types of mortgages available

There are many different types of mortgages, with the main ones outlined below:

Fixed rate mortgages - If you want the peace of mind of knowing what your mortgage payments will be every month, then a fixed rate mortgage could be for you. This type of mortgage fixes your interest rate for an agreed period of time and means your rate won’t be affected by changes in the Bank of England’s Bank Rate (Bank Rate), whether it goes up or down.

Variable rate mortgages - There are several types of variable rate mortgages, including standard variable and discount, typically offering a discount for a set period off a lenders standard variable rate. They don’t offer protection from future rate increases but you could benefit from cheaper payments when interest rates are low. Standard variable rates are usually set by individual lenders, so they might change without the Bank Rate moving. All lenders have a responsibility to write to you with plenty of notice to let you know if your mortgage payments will be going up or down.

Tracker mortgages - A tracker mortgage follows and tracks movements of another rate. This is usually the Bank Rate. As a result, you could benefit from cheaper mortgage payments when the Bank Rate is low; but you’ll also need to budget for higher mortgage payments should the Bank Rate go up. 

From time to time, the West Brom may launch or withdraw certain types of mortgages and change its product range. 

A deposit - the bigger the better

When applying for a mortgage you will need to put down a deposit which is usually 5% of the sale price of the home you want to buy. It's worth bearing in mind that the more you're able to put down as a deposit, the lower your monthly payments are likely to be. Above all, whatever the size of your deposit, the most important thing is that you feel it's affordable.

Step by step

We've put together this quick guide to help you into your first home. It will take you through all the steps to getting a mortgage, as well as information and useful tips on finding, buying and moving into a place you can finally call home.


Work out how much you can afford to borrow and where you would like to live including, local amenities, schools and your commute to work.

Agreement in Principle

Get an Agreement in Principle (AIP) to help with your negotiations when buying your new home.

Research again...

Now you know how much you could borrow, check that your research is still relevant and get viewing!

Complete a full mortgage application

When you’ve decided to proceed you’ll need an appointment with a mortgage adviser to go through the mortgage application.

The legal bit...

Find a solicitor to deal with the legal work involved in buying a property.

The survey...

Time to get the valuation for your property.

The offer

Your mortgage offer is ready.

Exchanging contracts

You're nearly there - it's time to exchange contracts. This means you're now legally bound to buy your new home.

And finally...

You've now completed your mortgage. Congratulations on your new home.

Fees and costs to consider

The expense of buying your first home is not just about the price of the property. As a first time buyer it’s vital to bear in mind the other costs involved. For starters, there’s the deposit. If you’re buying a house for around £150,000 and want to put down a 10% deposit, that’s £15,000 you’ll need to have saved.

That’s not all. There are the other costs you usually come across when buying a property.  

  • Booking fee - This fee is charged to secure the interest rate of the mortgage. It is also known as the application fee. It usually costs around £100-£200 and is typically paid upfront, but we sometimes have offers where this fee is not charged.
  • Completion fee - This fee is charged to set up your mortgage and can also be referred to as an arrangement fee. It usually costs from £500 to over £1,000 with the option of either paying it upfront or adding it to the mortgage. Again, we sometimes have offers where this fee is not charged.
  • Stamp duty - Stamp duty is a lump sum tax that anyone buying a property or land costing more than a set amount has to pay. The rate of this tax will vary depending on the value of your property. For more information visit the Government’s website at where you can also find a calculator to help you work out the amount you would have to pay.
  • Valuation fee - The level of fee is dependent on the property’s value and can be anywhere from £150 up to £1,500. For certain mortgage products, we may not charge you for a standard valuation.
  • Survey fee - The survey could be a basic home condition survey, costing around £250; or a full structural survey upwards of £600. This fee is also dependent on the property’s value. Never underestimate the value of a good detailed survey as it can save you money on repairs later down the line and can also be used to negotiate the price of your house.
  • Legal fees - You’ll need a solicitor or licenced conveyancer to carry out all the legal work involved with buying a home. The fees are typically £500-£1,500 including VAT at 20%. They’ll also carry out local searches (which usually cost around £250-£300) to check if there are any local plans or issues that may stop you buying your first home.

How to apply

Find out how to apply for a mortgage with the West Brom.

View our mortgages

Got all the information you need? Head over to view our mortgage products that may be suitable for you. 

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