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Buying your first home is exciting, but it can also be daunting. As experienced conveyancers, we’ve put together a list of useful tips to pave the way for a smooth journey to buying your first home.

Choosing the right property in the right area

Set a budget – and try to stick to it as closely as possible. Search online, on websites such as www.rightmove.co.uk and www.zoopla.co.uk, to give yourself an idea of what is available in your preferred area and within your budget.

When you walk, jog or drive around, look for estate agents’ sale boards, as these may help you to decide which estate agents you should register with.

If any of your friends and colleagues have moved recently or are thinking of moving, have a chat with them. They may be able to point you in the direction of a good estate agent.

A good estate agent will let you know when a suitable property within your area and within your budget is available.

Obtaining mortgage finance

Ask your friends or colleagues to recommend a mortgage broker or financial advisor or contact the bank or building society directly. They should be able to discuss the affordable options with you and help you choose the best mortgage to suit you. Your chosen lender may give you a decision in principle or mortgage certificate confirming the amount that it is prepared to lend you. Remember that a decision in principle is not a firm mortgage offer. A firm mortgage offer will only be issued when the valuer appointed by the lender has valued the property and is satisfied.

Obtaining a survey

You will buy the property in its current state and condition. You will not have any comeback against the seller unless the seller has deliberately or recklessly provided incorrect information or hidden information from you. It is therefore advisable to arrange for the property to be surveyed. The mortgage provider’s valuation is often very basic, and should not be relied on by you. You should obtain either a Home Buyer’s Report or a full survey, together with any follow up reports and estimates. You should supply a copy of your survey report to your conveyancer, who can follow up any legal issues that are highlighted.

Costs and fees

Remember to budget for all the costs and fees relating to your purchase, and not just your deposit.

The costs and fees will include:

  • the mortgage valuation,
  • your house survey,
  • property searches,
  • Land Registry searches and registration fees,
  • bankruptcy search fees,
  • fees payable to your mortgage broker or financial advisor,
  • mortgage lender’s fees,
  • conveyancing fees; and
  • removal costs.

Using a Help to Buy ISA account

If you have a Help to Buy ISA account with a balance of at least £1,600 and not more than £12,000 and are obtaining a mortgage on the a property in the UK costing £250,000 or less (£450,000 or less in London) that you intend to live in, the Government will pay a bonus equal to 25% of the account balance, to be used towards the purchase price (but not fees, expense or the contractual deposit), provided that this is your first home and you will not own any other property. Your conveyancer will claim the bonus on your behalf.

Opening a Lifetime ISA account to buy your first home

If you have a Lifetime ISA (LISA) account, you can use it to buy your first home, but not if you also use a Help to Buy ISA account. You can open a LISA if you are aged between 18 and 40. You can pay in up to £4,000 each year until the age of 50. The Government will add a 25% bonus, up to a maximum of £1,000 per year. Your conveyancer can help you close your LISA.

Choosing your conveyancer as a first time buyer

Speak to friends, family and colleagues, to see if they can recommend a good conveyancer. Check online reviews, such as google reviews or those on www.reviews.co.uk

Enormous help with the legal aspects of purchasing our first home, Sidraa was always friendly, helpful, knowledgeable and good at explaining everything to us as first-time buyers - was made really clear and easy to understand. Always really quick to reply to emails and kept in frequent contact with updates. Very grateful for the extra effort put in to ensure progression despite the pandemic. Really happy with the service, would definitely recommend and wouldn’t hesitate to use Winston Solicitors again.

Emily

You need to have confidence in your conveyancer. A good conveyancer will ensure that your property purchase goes as smoothly as possible. The process will involve form filling, information gathering, telephone calls and emails.

You will be speaking to your conveyancer a lot during the process. Your conveyancer will be able to reassure you and address any concerns that you have.

Ask for a free conveyancing quote by calling our conveyancing team on 0113 218 5455.

READ MORE: How should you decide between a Joint Tenancy and a Tenancy in Common.