Now might seem not such a good time to become a property investor. But if you’re one of those entrepreneurs who sees the opportunity in running against the herd, what do you need to know about getting started in property right now?

As a first time property investor there are a lot of things to think about – not only actually finding the perfect investment property. In this report we’ll look at some of the most important things you’ll need as a first time property investor:

1.A mortgage

Interest rates might be low right now, but it’s still important to shop around for a mortgage that will best suit your needs both now and into the future.

It’s important to bear in mind that, unless you’re an established investor, this will normally be based on your income, not the income generated by the property. There will be other conditions too, such as what type of property the lender will lend on and how much money they will lend you in relation to the value of the property (known as loan to value or LTV).

2.A budget for buying and set-up costs

You’re probably focussed on the price of your property but there are some other expenses to budget for too.

The main expense is Stamp Duty, or Stamp Duty Land Tax to give it its official name. Bear in mind that you might be able to save on Stamp Duty by buying under the current threshold limits.

Other costs you’ll need to budget for include: Mortgage application fees (charged by some lenders), conveyancing fees and a survey (see later), buildings insurance. A budget to cover any refurbishment needed, or furnishings you will be providing. Agency or marketing fees needed to find a tenant.

3.Legal advice

Here’s what your solicitor or conveyancer will do:

* Check that the seller owns the property and that any existing mortgages on it (or charges as they are known) will be paid off.

* Check the title deeds, for any restrictions on what you can do with the property (occasionally this might include letting!). These are known as covenants.

* Undertake local searches with the local authority. This will reveal if any planning applications or new developments might affect the property.

* Confirm what service charges or ground rent might be payable, if any.

* Check the contract of sale drawn up by the seller’s conveyancer or solicitor.

* Accept the mortgage funds from your lender and transfer them to the seller.

* Register ownership of the property in your name at the Land Registry.

4.A survey

There are three main types of survey to consider. Take advice from a surveyor on what type of survey would best suit your needs.

* A Property Valuation tells you the current market value of the property (which may not be the same as the asking price). Your lender will want to see this and will base their final mortgage offer on it.

* A Home Buyer Report. This will tell you about the overall condition of the property and any obvious defects it has. Your lender won’t expect to see this, but you may find it helpful.

* A Building Survey. This might be needed if you’re concerned your investment property might have structural problems.

5.Financial advice

Last but definitely not least (in fact you should probably do this first), it’s highly advisable to take advice from an account or tax adviser on the tax implications of making a property investment. Also, the best way to make your investment as tax efficient as possible based on your personal and financial circumstances.

In view of recent income tax changes there can be advantages (as well as disadvantages) of setting up a limited company to buy your investment property. But this is something you really need to take professional advice on

If you’ve found this first time property investor checklist useful, you’ll find lots more useful reports on Property Insider.

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