First-Time Buyers With Harrison’s Solicitors
Before you decide to buy a property for the first time, it is wise to research to ensure that you fully understand what you are committing yourself to. The complete process can be stressful, even more so if you do not appoint the right advisers to assist you. We at Harrison’s Solicitors will be with you every step of the conveyancing process, keeping you informed and avoiding jargon that can sometimes unnecessarily confuse people. Keeping you in the loop throughout ensures that your conveyancing transaction will run smoothly from start to finish. Visit our conveyancing page for more information about our conveyancing service.
What does conveyancing mean?
Conveyancing is the term that refers to ‘the legal process of transferring one’s property (the seller) to another (the buyer).’ We at Harrison’s Solicitors will assign a dedicated solicitor to be with you every step of the journey. If you are a first-time buyer, learn more about buying a property with Harrison’s Solicitors.
What’s involved with the conveyancing process, and when does the process begin?
Before looking for a property, it is essential to understand what you can afford. You may have money saved for a deposit. Most first-time buyers will need a mortgage. This is a loan from a lender (often a bank or building society) to be paid off over time. At the end of this period, providing all loan repayments are made along with any interest charges, the mortgage will be repaid in full and the Lender’s charge removed from the property title, meaning you wholly own your property.
Finding a mortgage and due diligence
At Harrison’s, we advise that when buying an older property, you should have your finances in place from the outset. Do not automatically go with the first Lender you find or even the cheapest. Mortgage products change regularly and there could be hidden charges. With so many lenders available, we advise you to seek the advice of an independent financial adviser or mortgage broker to help you find the best mortgage to suit your needs. If you have an excellent credit score, many lenders will match your bank’s offer or try to persuade you with a better deal.
Our advice is always to get a personalised mortgage illustration. This will highlight the essential features of your mortgage. A mortgage loan is a huge commitment, so do your due diligence and do not sign up for anything you regret. In most instances, a typical mortgage lasts for at least 25 years and is a long-term commitment. It is, therefore, not something to be rushed into without careful consideration. With the finances in place, you can now search for your new home.
Finding the property
After finding a property you like and can afford, you must make an offer to the seller, usually via the estate agent. Your offer is what you are prepared to pay the seller for the property. In our experience, it is also an excellent time to highlight any conditions your offer depends on, such as including carpets and curtains in the sale price. It is also helpful to remember that the estate agent acts for the seller rather than you as the buyer. It is sensible to get things put in writing, and if you are unsure of something, speak with your solicitor.
Our dedicated team of property solicitors can assist you with a preliminary title check should you wish. Typically, an Estate Agent facilitates this process. However, with the growth of the internet, there are instances where the property is between a buyer and seller without an estate agent being involved. We have experience in completing conveyancing transactions in both scenarios.
Once the seller accepts your offer, we advise you to complete a structural survey to evaluate the property’s condition. The vendor is another term that can be used to describe the seller. Many mortgage lenders require you to use a surveyor approved by them or on a panel of survey providers. Different types of surveys are available, and getting one that gives you a good understanding of the property you plan to buy can be prudent. We will review any legal issues that the survey raises. Different surveys cover different levels of investigations and tests, including the structural condition and integrity of the property. The surveyor will not always look for signs of dampness, subsidence or damage in the more basic surveys, so, therefore, we recommend a complete structural survey.
The solicitor’s responsible for checking with the local authority, water authority, drainage and environmental search providers to determine if the property is connected to mains water and drainage. We will also assess if there is any historic contamination, whether there are shared access points and who is responsible for them. The solicitor will also check the deeds for the rights/covenants and the boundaries to see if there are any disputes. Only when all of the above is acceptable can you buy your property?
What does ‘exchange’ mean?
The exchange of contracts is the formal process where the solicitor of each buyer and the seller formally exchange contracts at a particular time and date. When you have exchanged contracts for the property, your deposit will pass to the seller, and you cannot back out of the purchase without losing a lot of money.
Before contracts are exchanged, the solicitors will ensure that both parties agree upon a fixtures and fittings list. This must be in writing so everybody’s expectations are managed and there are no hidden surprises.
It is essential to understand that nobody is legally bound to complete the property transaction until the contracts are exchanged and deposits paid.
What does ‘completion’ mean?
This is when the buyer’s solicitor transfers the remaining balance of the money owed to the seller’s solicitor in return for the deeds and keys for the property. At this stage, the property becomes legally the buyer’s property.
What Is Gazumping?
Sometimes a seller decides to sell their property to another buyer who has offered more money than you have. In effect, the seller has returned to the original buyer’s agreement. Unfortunately, if this happens before the exchange, you can do nothing about it. We advise that once a seller has accepted your offer on their property, you ask them to take the property off the market as part of your offer. This will significantly reduce the likelihood of another buyer submitting a higher bid, although it is not guaranteed.
What Is Gazanging?
Gazanging has increased in Reading recently when the seller decides to withdraw from the property sale and stay there. The seller could sell their home when the market price is more favourable. This is when they are likely to make more money by waiting a few months.
Selecting your property solicitor
We advise you to choose a solicitor specialising in property law rather than a general practice. A specialist conveyancing solicitor will handle all the paperwork and documents and conduct the necessary searches and checks to satisfy the Land Registry and any mortgage lender. In terms of budget, every circumstance is different. Still, we recommend setting a budget of £1,500 to cover the legal fees for hiring a solicitor specialising in property law and the additional costs (disbursements). Choose a solicitor that is experienced with a proven track record. Reviews, testimonials and the number of years established are all good indicators. An established local practice like Harrison’s Solicitors can make the process run smoothly and ensure everything goes through quickly.
It is normal to have many questions, especially if you are a first-time buyer. We aim to help make the complete process stress free by using our knowledge and exceptional communications skills. We aim to keep you fully informed by explaining matters in plain English.