Ten Top Tips for First Time Buyers
Buying your first property can seem a confusing process. But following a simple 10 step checklist will help the process to run more smoothly. Rachael Bewick is a Residential Property Solicitor at Osbornes Law.
1. Ask the estate agent key questions about the vendor:
– Why are they selling?
– Are they buying somewhere else? If so, has their offer been accepted?
– What are the seller’s timeframes? You don’t want to find out later you will be waiting months to move in.
– If it is a leasehold property, how long is the lease? A short lease can be very restrictive.
2. Get your mortgage in place. A mortgage offer in principle confirms that a mortgage company is willing to lend to you. The estate agent will want you to have a mortgage offer in principle at the time of your offer.
3. Decide whether to have the property survey. This is not a requirement but is always recommended. Organising a survey quickly prevents delays, especially if issues are flagged up that need resolving.
4. When comparing conveyancing quotes (legal fees for your purchase) ensure that they are like for like. Some conveyancing quotes will include extra fees for dealing with a mortgage, a leasehold property or filing your Stamp Duty Land Tax return.
5. If you have a Help to Buy ISA and you want to claim the Help to Buy Bonus, contact your bank to check how long it will take for your ISA account to be closed. Some banks will close it on the day of request but some take longer and you don’t want this to cause delays when it comes to exchanging contracts. Don’t close however without first speaking to your solicitor.
6. Tell your solicitor at the start if any of the purchase money is not coming from you, such as a gift from a family member or friend.
7. Check how much Stamp Duty Land Tax you will need to pay. It’s a confusing topic when buying and your solicitor will be able to help. There is also a useful Government web site that calculates any payments (if any.)
8. Understand the difference between ‘exchange of contracts’ and ‘completion’. Exchange of contracts is the point at which you enter into a contract to buy the property from the seller and the seller enters into a contract to sell the property to you. Your purchase is not legally binding until you have exchanged contracts, so before this stage either party can pull out. Completion is the day when the full purchase price has to be paid to the seller and you are provided with the keys to the property – at this stage you are then the legal owner of the property.
9. Understand what is meant by the word ‘deposit’. When applying for a mortgage you will be asked how much money, the deposit, you will be putting towards your purchase. When solicitors use the word deposit they are referring to your exchange deposit. This will most likely be 10% of the purchase price.
10. Take time to choose a solicitor, someone who will be able to explain the process and terminology to you clearly and is there to guide you through the transaction from beginning to end.
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