First-Time Buyer? Your Guide to a Smooth Purchase

If you’re thinking of buying your first home, you’ll probably have a load of questions about the process.

From getting the right first mortgage to finding the right house to buy, there’s a lot to deal with.

That’s why we’ve put together our expert first-time buyer guide – to help you work out what you need to do to make everything go as smoothly as possible.

The right first-time buyer mortgage

When choosing the right mortgage for you, you’ll usually have to do a lot of calculating. Knowing your finances is the most important part of finding the best mortgage. And don’t forget that mortgages usually come with fees – you’ll have to factor all of these extra costs in.

You’ll first need to work out whether you can afford the mortgage repayments. Make sure you calculate exactly what your monthly budget will be so you know making the monthly payments will be manageable.

It’s also essential to learn what the necessary deposit amount you’ll need is. Following the Covid-19 pandemic, mortgage lenders became far stricter. This means that in many cases, you’ll need at least a 15% deposit to afford your home.

For a quick quote for your legal needs, try our conveyancing calculator.

Finding your home

After securing a mortgage agreement in principle, the more enjoyable part of buying your first home can start – find the right property.

Figure out your deal-breakers and the features you can’t live without – whether that’s off-road parking or an open-plan living area. Knowing the areas you most want to live in will help to narrow down your options when you start looking too.

You might want to go and physically view some properties you may not be won over online. Things can look very different in person and you may end up being struck by inspiration by a home you hadn’t seriously considered at first.

Negotiating for the best price

The seller of your future home wants to get the most they can for it. That makes it crucial that you negotiate to bring the cost down to what you’re comfortable paying.

Do your research and find out what similar properties in the area have sold for. Sites like Zoopla and the Land Registry can help you do that. If your seller wants more than that, they’ll have to justify it when you present the figures. But bear in mind that if the property is popular, the seller won’t have to come down too far in price.

As a first-time buyer, you’re not part of a chain. This makes you a more attractive buyer than someone trying to sell their home at the same time. Use this to your advantage. Highlight the fact that you’re willing to move to the seller’s schedule and that could help during your negotiations.

Start the conveyancing process

When you’ve found the place for you, it’s time to appoint your conveyancer. Your conveyancing solicitors will take care of the legal side of your house purchase, making sure the transaction is valid and binding.

They’ll carry out the necessary searches on your chosen property, deal with the purchase contracts and deal with the Land Registry requirements. Depending on how long it takes the organisations they deal with, this can take anywhere from a few days to a number of months. Be patient, but remember you have the right to check on the progress of your purchase.

During the conveyancing process, you can also get a property survey – although it’s not your solicitors who deal with this. A survey will give you the details about the property condition, letting you make an informed decision about whether to go ahead.

If you’re looking for a conveyancer to push forward your first home purchase, get in touch. First4Lawyers and our expert conveyancers can guide you through the process.

Top tips for first-time home buyers

  • Consider a mortgage broker

Finding the right mortgage can be challenging. That’s why a good broker is worth the fee they charge. They can help you find the best deal, help you compile your application and even apply for you.

  • Be conscious of estate agent extras

Estate agents will often tell you that to deal with them, you’ll have to see their mortgage advisor or use their solicitor. This is generally not a legal condition and you’re free to use any mortgage advisor or solicitor you choose.

  • Find out if it’s freehold or leasehold

You may assume a property is a freehold, but this isn’t always the case. If the house listing doesn’t explicitly state what it is, make sure you find out from the agent or the seller. You don’t want to find out too late.

  • Arrange insurance early on

Many lenders will stipulate that you have to have buildings insurance in place from the day you exchange contracts. So shop around and arrange your policy early.

  • Be prepared for stress

It’s a well-known fact that buying a house is one of the most stressful things you’ll do in your life. There will usually be at least one thing that causes a grey hair or two. Choosing the right conveyancer will usually help make sure you don’t turn completely grey.

  • Let everyone know your change of address

Once you’ve moved, don’t forget to let people know about your new address. This includes your employer, utility providers, banks and other organisations you deal with.


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