Seddons Guide to buying your first home

Seddons Guide to buying your first home

Buying a property for the first time can be a daunting process. It can seem like a lengthy and complex procedure and, if you have never done it before, it can be useful to know what to expect.

First Things First

For the purposes of this article, we are going to assume that you have already looked into your mortgage and have a clear idea of what you will be able to borrow and the kind of deposit you will require.  This is certainly not something we would recommend leaving until you have found a property and mortgage applications can significantly slow the process of buying down.  If you need advice about mortgages, it is best to consult a specialist mortgage company for advice, like those we have access to at Seddons with the Mortgage Advice Bureau – get in touch for more info about this.

Finding a Property

Once you have your deposit organised and have been advised by a mortgage company that you are suitable for a mortgage you can start to look for properties within your price range.  It is always worth looking a little above your limit as some vendors are prepared to take an offer – do remember to factor in things like stamp duty (SDLT), survey costs, any mortgage fees and conveyancing charges into your overall budget.  Also, don’t forget to take into account the condition of the properties you are looking at.

Have a look at our online guide to house buying for some handy advice on how to target your search.  It is worth registering as a buyer with estate agents in your chosen area rather than just relying on Rightmove.  You may get to know about new properties or price reductions before they get online.  There is nothing more frustrating than seeing a suitable property listed on Rightmove for the first time and it being marked up as ‘Under Offer’. To register as a buyer visit

Remember!  It can be fun to think about the improvements you can make to a property and buying a property which needs some work can be a good way of getting more for your money and being able to add value.  Do make sure you have a realistic impression of how much any improvements are going to cost though, before you go down that route.

Found ‘the one’?  Great – What’s next?

Once you have found the property you want to buy – you will need to negotiate a price with the vendor.  Generally, this will be handled via the estate agent.  Speak to the agent in question about this beforehand to make sure they know your circumstances and that you have your finance in place etc. Being in a position to proceed readily puts you in a stronger negotiating position with the vendor of the property.  Being a first time buyers also means that you are not in a chain which is an advantage. Hopefully you will have an offer accepted and you can move on to the next phase…

Instructing a Solicitor

When dealing with the conveyancing for your property, you have the option of instructing a local solicitor or opting for an online service. Which of these options offers the best option for you will depend on your personal circumstances and the specifics of your property purchase.

There are benefits to using an online service, especially If you are generally unable to deal with things during normal working hours.  If you are comfortable dealing with things remotely an online service could suit you very well.

Benefits of online solicitors

  • Tracking facilities – an online log in where you can track the progress of your case
  • Extended opening hours – You will usually be able to contact them outside of normal office hours.
  • Instant – you can usually get an instant quote and instruct your solicitor straight away
  • Fixed fees – many guarantee a ‘fixed fee’ and a ‘no move, no fee’ service.

If you are not very comfortable using an online service and prefer the personal touch, you may be better to consider a local solicitor.  A local solicitor may also be a better option if your purchase is more complex or requires specialist knowledge.

Benefits of Local Solicitors

  • Personal service – if you have questions and want to better understand the process you can meet face to face
  • Local knowledge and expertise – Local knowledge can be an advantage and help to speed up the process
  • Consistency – With a local solicitor you will generally be dealing with one person throughout the entire process.

If you aren’t sure and need some impartial advice on whether an online or local solicitor is the best fit for your purchase, get in touch with us and we will be happy to help.

Commissioning a Survey

If you are buying a property with a mortgage, the minimum you will require is a mortgage valuation, your lender will organise this and you will pay the fee.  It is also advisable to arrange some kind of further report on the condition of the property.  For a breakdown of survey types and an idea of which would be most appropriate for the property you are buying see our blog about property survey types explained.

If the survey turns up some defects to the property which were not previously understood or known about, you may need to return to the agents to attempt to re-negotiate.  It may be that the property has been priced with the works required in mind, in which case, the vendor is unlikely to want to budge much further on this –  make sure you keep in good communication with the agent and be guided by them when negotiating this kind of hurdle.  They are there to keep the sale on track through the process so don’t be afraid to use them for this.

Proceed to Exchange of contracts

The average sale in the UK now takes around 13 weeks to process, from offer to completion.  There is usually a time lag between exchange of contracts and completion and this will be agreed by both parties before exchange takes place.  The good news is, once you have exchanged contacts all the hard work has been done and you can relax about the purchase falling through. Don’t relax too much though – the time between exchange and completion is when you have to get yourself organised for moving day!

Finally, completion!

On your agreed completion day, the solicitors on both sides will complete the formalities of the transaction and the monies will be transferred from the mortgage company to the purchaser’s solicitor, then sent from the purchaser’s solicitor to the buyer’s solicitor.   This may take a while and you will not officially own the property or be to collect the keys until this has taken place.  Once this is all done and the solicitors have dealt with the necessary documentation, your purchase is complete.  Time to break out the champagne and start planning that housewarming party!

We understand that buying a property for the first time can be a nerve racking process, however, we are always on hand to offer the benefit of our experience throughout.  For more information on buying a house, get in touch with our friendly team in your local Seddons office.

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