Buying your first home?

Feeling excited and anxious about buying your first home? We’ve broken down the process, so the journey to home ownership seems that little bit easier.

The first step: figuring out what you can afford

If you’re buying your first home, it’s highly likely you’ll need to apply for a mortgage. The best place to start is to speak to some mortgage advisers to get an indication of what price bracket you should be searching within. If you’re cash-strapped, there are government schemes available to help: Help to Buy: ISA and Equity Loan are two schemes worth looking into if you’re a first time buyer.

There’s also a range of extra costs that are crucial to consider, which include conveyancing fees, building insurance, moving costs (such as hiring a removal van or company) and any repairs or improvements that need to be made on the new house.

Once you’ve got a budget in place, figure out what the maximum is that you can afford and stick to it.

Finding the right mortgage

Before you start seriously looking at properties, it’s best to kick off the process of applying for a mortgage. A lot of people end up missing out on their dream home because they leave the mortgage application process too late. Most sellers prefer a buyer who have a mortgage agreed in principle, as this reduces the risk of delays.

Leasehold or freehold?

One decision you may encounter is whether to buy a freehold or leasehold property. Freehold means you own the building and land outright. Leasehold, on the other hand, means you’re leasing the property from the owner, usually for a set period of time (often upwards of 75 years).

Leasehold properties commonly occur within apartment complexes or blocks of flats. Because of the more restricted ownership rights for the buyer – such as being unable to make major changes to the property without permission from the owner – leasehold properties are generally cheaper than freehold. But while the outright cost of a freehold property is generally greater, you won’t have the annual ground rent obligations that come with purchasing a leasehold property.

Location, backyard, bedrooms: it’s all in the details

There’s lots of details to consider when you’re buying your first home. Here are some considerations you’ll need to add to your checklist:

Location

It’s good to get a feel for the neighbourhood your future home is situated in. After all, you’ll most likely be spending a lot of time in your local area. It’s important to observe what parks are in the area, where the nearest hospital is, where you’ll be able to shop and what schools are around you.

Do you need to use public transport? What stations are nearby? Are there well-connected bus routes or cycle paths near your home? These are all questions you should be asking when you’re on the hunt.

Car parking

Check whether car parks are on-street, in a driveway or in a garage. If the parking is only on-street, are there time restrictions or permit costs?

Garden

While it’s lovely to have outdoor space, maintenance is also a consideration. Do you have time to mow the lawns? Or can you afford for someone to do it for you? If you’re considering a property without outdoor space, consider whether you’ll resent this in the long run: do you need space for a vegetable garden? Is there a patio where you can have a cup of tea in the sun?

Number of bedrooms

Whether you’re hoping to grow your family or simply want to have friends over to stay, it’s important to consider you’ve got enough room for your future life, not just your current situation.

Conservation area or listed building

If you’re hoping to make changes to the property in future, then it’s good to research whether you’re legally allowed to make changes.

Making an offer

So, you’ve made it to the exciting part. Making an offer on a property. This is a big step, so it’s important to approach it calmly and rationally. If you feel you didn’t get a good enough idea of the space the first time around, request to view the property again.

Before you put the offer in make sure you have the answers to these questions:
  • What’s included in this property? Ie. What fixtures and fittings come with the offer.
  • What’s the property worth? Research what similar properties in the area have sold for and how many are on the market.
  • What are you willing to pay? Perhaps your offer may be rejected. If so, what is the highest you’d like to pay?

Once your offer is accepted, you should ask the estate agent to remove the listing from any online portals and to stop actively marketing the property. You’ll then receive a letter from the estate agent which outlines your offer in writing.

Following this, you may decide to take out Home Buyers’ Protection Insurance. It protects you if your seller changes their mind about accepting your offer. It also allows you to claim back some of the conveyancing, surveyor and mortgage/lender fees, if the sale falls through.

Hiring a conveyancer

This is the part where we can help you. Our role is to do the legal work of transferring the ownership of a home from the seller to you. Our law firm will identify any title or planning issues and carry out any searches that need to be done. We’ll sort out the exchange of contracts, and complete the process of changing ownership.

How much will the conveyancing process cost?

We like to keep things transparent. If you use us as your conveyancer, we’ll be upfront about the fees, right from the start. Use our Online Quote Builder to get a quote estimate, before you even begin. If any extra fees arise throughout the process, we’ll keep you in the loop.

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