Buying our first home is undoubtedly one of the biggest financial decisions we will ever have to make. With the average age of first-time buyers in the UK being 30, there is plenty of opportunity for you to plan your future in the most efficient way possible.
To help you plan, and address some of the most common concerns, we’ve compiled some hints and tips for first-time buyers based on the insight and experience of our expert residential property team.
Set a Budget
It might sound like common sense, but the first step of your planning should be to figure out a reasonable, realistic budget you’re happy to spend in total on the purchase of your first home.
It’s important to consider all the costs implicated in the purchase of your home, not just the purchase price itself but also account for some of the peripheral expenses as well. The balance of monies other than the mortgage advance will typically be between 5 – 20% of the property value, depending on the terms of your mortgage offer.
However, there will likely be a number of additional fees due throughout the process in order to finalise the purchase. These can include, but depending on the circumstances, are not limited to:
- Surveyor’s fee
- Lender and/or brokers fee
- Conveyancer’s fee
- Mortgage booking and/or arrangement fee
- Removal costs
There will typically also be stamp duty payments to make on properties worth over £300,000 (temporarily increased to properties worth over £500,000 until March 2021).
These fees can quickly add up, so you should plan to budget for at least an additional £2,500 in fees, though the actual figure required will depend on individual circumstances.
Take Your Time
Once you’ve saved enough to fund the purchase price and those additional fees, and have found your perfect home, you will understandably be keen and excited to move in – and into your DIY gloves – as quickly as possible.
However, the conveyancing process, mortgage arrangements, and estate agent negotiations can all take time to proceed and it is vital that all the necessary background work is completed thoroughly to ensure that no problems manifest themselves later.
If you’re in a “chain”, with other properties being bought and sold to enable your purchase to proceed, that can cause additional delays and complications, so having a good solicitor is super-important to help steer your purchase through to completion as quickly and smoothly as possible.
Complete Paperwork Accurately
A common cause of hold ups and delays during the process of purchasing a house is incorrectly completed paperwork.
When completing the required paperwork, it’s vitally important that you read all the correspondence you receive and ask your solicitor if there is anything you don’t understand or you’re unsure how to complete any of the many forms involved. Mistakes made in filling out any of the paperwork could lead to significant delays in the process, as well as lead to potentially major legal issues further down the line.
Again, this is where having a good solicitor on board, who understands this is all new to you and takes the time to explain everything and guide you through the process, will make the difference between a smooth transaction and a stressful experience.
Once you’ve decided on a property, had an offer accepted, you’ve instructed your conveyancer, and the buying process is underway, it’s important to keep in regular touch with all parties involved, including your estate agent, your conveyancer and your mortgage provider.
Being up-to-date and ‘in the loop’ can help the process move along more smoothly as questions can be answered quickly and paperwork exchanged promptly, minimising the frustrating gaps when nothing much seems to be happening. Some delays are unavoidable, others aren’t.
With that in mind, you should ensure that you are contactable by your estate agent and conveyancer. – it is just as important that they can contact you as it is that you can contact them. For example, if you’re going to be away and can’t be contacted easily for a few days, let them know.
Find the right Conveyancer
Many first time buyers may not have heard of the term ‘conveyancer’ before, and may not be aware of the role a conveyancer plays in the home buying process.
Put simply, a conveyancer provides you with legal advice and manages the legal aspects of the purchase transaction for you, including holding and transferring funds from one party to the other. Once the purchase is completed, the conveyancer will register your ownership of the property with the Land Registry.
A conveyancer can be a solicitor, a legal executive or a licensed conveyancer.
It is crucial that you instruct a conveyancer that you’re comfortable with, who you can contact easily and who you feel you can trust to guide you through the purchase process, which can seem complex and daunting, particularly when it’s your first home.
While your estate agent is likely to recommend a conveyancer, you may prefer to do your own research to find the right conveyancer for you.
You could ask family, friends or colleagues for a recommendation. If they can’t help, a good ‘rule of thumb’ is to make sure your conveyancer is registered with a regulatory body such as the Solicitors Regulatory Authority or the Institute of Chartered Legal Executives, and to find a firm that is local to the property being purchased, or to yourself which will allow regular contact at a time convenient to you.
Don’t Finalise until you’re Fully Satisfied
It’s easy to get caught up in the race to buy your first home. Your friends, your colleagues, your siblings, are all doing it and you’re feeling the pressure.
However, particularly as a first time buyer, it’s easy to enter into a contract without fully understanding what you’re signing up to, or even being sure if you really want to go ahead. A good conveyancer will explain and guide you through everything, offer advice and reassurance, and ensure you’re not signing up to anything that isn’t in your best interests.
That said, if you are having second thoughts about the purchase, or your circumstances have changed, don’t hesitate to voice your concerns to your conveyancer. Until you exchange contracts, and the transaction becomes legally binding, you can still walk away if you’re not happy to go ahead.
The purchase of your first home is an exciting time and it’s easy to get caught up in the emotional side of the process, but it’s equally important to keep a clear head and act carefully and thoughtfully.
They key to the process running as smoothly and efficiently as possible is to have an experienced conveyancer on your side who will keep you up to date on developments and deal with any issues promptly. You can’t prepare for all eventualities, but having an expert conveyancer on your team will certainly help to smooth any bumps along the way.
At Davey Law, our Residential Property team have a wealth of experience in handling the conveyancing process for first time buyers. We know how important this is for you, and that it
can be bewildering. We are familiar with the potential pitfalls and will always do our best to keep you informed and the process moving forward as quickly and efficiently as possible.
To get in touch with our conveyancing team regarding the purchase of your first home, don’t hesitate to contact us by calling our Cirencester office on 01285 654875, our Gloucester office on 01452 508800, or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org