A guide by Robert Sargent, Chairman The Acorn Group

Having worked at the sharp end of the estate agency industry since 1985, I have been responding to the eternal question of “how do I go about buying my first home?” almost every day for my entire career.

Although the principle make-up of the UK property market hasn’t changed significantly over the last three decades, there are many more ways to attain your first home today than when I first entered the industry. In addition, the way in which home seekers come through the metaphoric doors of our business, and how they go about finding the details of homes currently offered for sale and rental, has changed dramatically.

However, anyone looking to find their first home, and relying solely on search engines and portals, can easily miss out on some of the fundamentals of the property market and the key benefits an estate agent can bring to the process.

The business of finding a property that is right for you, involves an understanding of personalities and relationships, not just putting a tick in a box. A good estate agent should help ensure that you’ve explored fully what you can and can’t afford, expose you to areas and opportunities you may not have otherwise considered, and most importantly, be there to give you advice and answer your questions every step of the way.

One of the biggest changes from 1985 to today, is that there is now far more balance in the choice of renting or buying your first home. Traditionally, the UK is a nation of homeowners, and that isn’t showing any signs of abating, but nevertheless, positive legislative changes in the rental sector has turned renting into a really good-value proposition, and represents an easy and secure way to obtain your first home.


Renting can no longer be seen as a waste of money in the way it was perhaps perceived in the 80s and early 90s. Now, renters can secure purpose-built rental homes that are well-appointed, available for the long-term with just one fixed-monthly payment (with no maintenance or service charges to pay), and with only a relatively small capital sum required to secure and move in.



The rental market has even advanced in terms of the security of your holding-deposit, as well as the provision of insurance-based deposits for tenants who prefer not to tie up their capital when intending to remain in the rented sector for the longer term.

In short, renting offers the opportunity to have a quality home at a fixed cost with longevity of tenure, and provides a good gateway to home ownership where individuals, couples, and families can capitalise on the fixed cost nature of renting while they accrue further savings and work out exactly where and when they what to buy a home.

Register as a tenant

Call our First Time Renter helpline on 020 8315 6928


When buying your first home there are really three fairly simple steps to go through. This advice reflects what I have been sharing with clients, friends and family for the whole of my career. It is really quite simple and hasn’t changed markedly over the years.



The first step is to sit down with a mortgage advisor. This has never been easier and can be done virtually or in person. A quality qualified mortgage advisor will be happy to look at exactly what you can afford to buy, advise on how much deposit you will need to have and take you through the costs of moving in detail. 

Call our First Time Mortgage helpline on 020 8315 6960

These costs primarily revolve around solicitors fees, stamp duty, disbursements, survey and property valuation costs. Having gone through this process and safe in the knowledge that you can afford to buy, I strongly urge all purchasers not to rely just on the internet to find their home.

Estate agents and property consultants are often aware before new properties come to the market that their owners intend to sell. They also hold information on planned new developments, property chains that have literally just broken down, and clients’ changes in circumstances that will lead to a need to sell. All these instances tend to happen days (sometimes weeks) before a property reaches the internet.

Perhaps the most obvious but simple and effective piece of advice I have given my own grown up children is to speak to agents as early as possible in your search, and to go and look at as many properties as you can. Don’t rely on glossy filtered and carefully angled images to decide whether or not to view. The very act of viewing property will help educate your preferences and the type of home you wish to own, whilst building relationships with agents who will be delighted to help and advise. 



Remember though, they may be showing you a property that on this occasion isn’t quite right for you, but tomorrow they could be taking on the house of your dreams, so keep the dialogue open and fluid. One of the big upsides of technology is your agent’s ability to get you details of their latest instruction very quickly, so it’s worth building a strong working relationship.

The final piece of the property-buying jigsaw is to choose a good solicitor to handle your conveyancing (the legal and contractual purchase of your home). Through friends and family you may already have a preferred one, but if not, your mortgage advisor or estate agent can offer their recommendations.

Once you have found a home and had an offer accepted, you will need to provide your solicitors details and go back to your mortgage advisor to submit a specific mortgage application for the property you have decided to buy.

Remember, although agents’ fees are paid for by the seller, those fees depend on your purchase, and most decent agents work on the basis that today’s purchaser is tomorrow’s seller, or landlord. Do not be afraid to seek the advice of your agent, mortgage advisor or solicitor should you have any questions at all.

Here at The Acorn Group, for example, we offer a simple helpline for anyone looking to get their first property, and we can help with every step of the process, or refer you to specialists who can assist.


Register as a buyer

Call our First Time Buyer helpline on 020 8315 6928