29th Jul 2020|News|Sales|

Buying a home for the first time? Here are some top tips

Purchasing your first home can be difficult and stressful at the best of times, but in a post-Covid world it is even more complicated. There are many new protocols and restrictions to abide by, and lots of government guidance to get your head around.

That comes on top of caps on 95% and 90% mortgages from wary lenders and getting used to the always complex conveyancing process.

However, help is at hand. While finding a home isn’t always an easy process, there are some general rules of thumb and top tips you can follow to improve your chances of doing it successfully. Budget, agents and negotiations, in particular, will all play a key part in helping you to buy your first home.

Below, we set out our top tips for first-time home purchasers.

Set a realistic budget

The deposit – while the main thing – isn’t the only cost you’ll need to cover when purchasing your home, and it’s important that you have a robust enough budget to cope with these other costs.

In addition to the deposit – typically around 5%-20% of the value of the home, although it can be higher or lower than this – there are a number of upfront fees to consider, including the valuation fee, the surveyors fee, conveyancing fees and the lender/broker fees. If you’re a first-time buyer, and not selling at the same time, you won’t need to pay estate agent fees.

Further to the above, there are other fees associated with your mortgage to consider, including the booking fee, arrangement fee and mortgage valuation fee. To cover these cots, it’s recommended that you save up an additional £2,500 on top of your deposit to ensure you aren’t left short.

If you are a first-time buyer who is purchasing with someone who has already owned a property before, you will be liable to pay stamp duty despite first-time buyers being exempt from doing so on homes up to £300,000. However, the recent stamp duty holiday – which means all buyers of homes worth up to £500,000 will pay no stamp duty until the end of March next year – means that the vast majority of first-time buyers will pay no stamp duty whatsoever when buying their first home.

This can amount to a considerable saving, depending on where in the country you are purchasing.

Source a reliable, experienced conveyancer

Conveyancing is the most crucial part of any successful house purchase, as it transfers legal ownership of a property from the seller to the buyer. Both sellers and buyers must employ the services of a conveyancer to carry out the conveyancing process.

You need to pick an experienced, reliable and reputable conveyancing firm to ensure the process goes off without a hitch. Your agent will typically be able to provide recommendations of solicitors they’ve used before. They may even have their own in-house conveyancing services. Equally, you may want to lean on family and friends for their advice and recommendations.

Your conveyancer is there to provide legal advice, handle contracts, carry out important searches, deal with the Land Registry (which registers the ownership of property in England and Wales), and arrange the transfer of funds when the sale completes.

As mentioned above, your agent will likely recommend a suitable conveyancer, but you can still conduct your own research to ensure that you have a conveyancer right for you and your purchase.

Always ensure that they are certified by either the Solicitors Regulatory Authority, the Council for Licensed Conveyancers or the Law Society. That way you know you will be working with a reliable, reputable firm.

Remain patient throughout

Frustrating delays can sometimes occur when buying a home. That is, unfortunately, par for the course. However, while you will no doubt be itching to get into your new home, employing a patient approach as much as possible will serve you well.

It’s crucial that all parts of the process are dealt with thoroughly and correctly. It is, after all, something that will be the biggest transaction of your life – so you’ll want all the i’s to be dotted and the t’s crossed.

The conveyancing process typically involves a lot of paperwork – although there are moves to make this more digital and remote; plans which have been accelerated by coronavirus. You may also face a number of additional enquiries, so it’s vital that you are on hand to respond to these things as quickly as possible.

You should also remember that all the legal aspects are being done in your best interests as a first-time home buyer. It’s not just the conveyancing process can take a bit of time, the mortgage arrangements, estate agent negotiations and the actual moving in process itself can all be time-consuming, too. A calm, patient mindset will help to keep stress and worry at bay.

Fill out paperwork correctly

Wrongly filled in or miswritten paperwork is a common cause of delays when it comes to purchasing a home.

As a result, you should read all contracts fully and fill in all paperwork openly and honestly. If you don’t, it could come back to haunt you at a later date with all manner of legal issues in the future.

A great deal of time, stress and money can be saved in the long run by getting it right first time, so take a little extra caution when filling in forms and applications and all should be well.

Keep a good line of communication with your agent

To keep a house purchase on the straight and narrow, good communication is absolutely vital. Do your best to regularly be kept in the loop with your seller, your estate agent, your mortgage adviser and your conveyancer.

Things should be as open and transparent as possible to ensure mutual trust is built and delays kept to a minimum. It will be your agent’s job to push the seller and both sets of conveyancers if any stalling occurs.

If you want to push through a fast house purchase, you need to be on the ball as well, making sure you keep your phone on at all times – and on top of your emails – in case any extra pieces of paperwork are required, or a signature here and there. You will also want to be kept abreast of any major turning points in the transaction.

Make sure you check your junk inbox, as conveyancers will normally send documents via email nowadays.

Don’t rush into anything

As a first-time buyer, in your eagerness to get on the property ladder, there is a danger of you taking risks or leaping in feet first. You should never enter into a contract without fully understanding what it means or whether or not it is in your best interests. Your conveyancer and agent will be on hand to provide you with the best possible advice, to ensure the deal is right for you.

If you’re not satisfied with something at any time, speak with your conveyancer as they can help to resolve any issues before it’s too late. Here at Centrick, we’re working alongside the new government guidelines to ensure we help our clients buy and sell homes in a safe and seamless way, using a digital-approach first where necessary.

You can find out about the services we offer across the Midlands and the rest of the UK by contacting us today.

To find out how much you could save as a buyer in the Midlands as a result of the stamp duty changes, see our previous blog here.