A first-time buyer? How to make a success of your property purchase

On behalf of Attwaters Jameson Hill posted on Monday, February 12th, 2018

Buying your first home can be both an exciting and nerve-racking experience. The exciting part is having a front door and space to call your own; the nerve-racking bit can be finding somewhere you can afford, saving enough for the deposit, and getting a mortgage deal in place. The good news is that since the November 2017 Budget, first-time buyers no longer pay stamp duty on properties bought for less than £300,000.


The legal part of home buying

Conveyancing is the legal process of transferring the ownership of a property from the seller to the buyer. On your behalf, we’ll investigate important issues like title, and planning matters that might affect the property. We’ll advise you on any boundary restrictions or responsibilities, restrictive covenants and service charges too.

We’ll also carry out various searches. A Local Authority search gives information about planning permissions and building regulation consent for the property. A Water and Drainage search confirms if the property is connected to the mains water supply and the public drainage system. An Environmental search shows up if there is potential land contamination and can identify flood risk too.

We will also send you a list of the fixtures and fittings the seller is leaving behind in the property, and obtain a copy of the Energy Performance Certificate which gives an energy efficiency rating indicating how costly the property will be to heat and light.

Why surveys are important

It will be up to you as the purchaser to arrange for a surveyor to look for any building or structural issues. Make a note of any potential faults that you might want your surveyor to report on, such as problems with wall, roofs or windows. You’ll also want confirmation that appliances like central heating boilers are in working order, and you should arrange for a qualified engineer to run a test.

If you’re thinking about carrying out building work on the property, such as an extension or loft conversion, we can advise you on any legal restrictions that may apply, and a surveyor or builder can advise on the practical issues. Details of local planning policy can be obtained from your local planning authority.

Going back to the property on a few occasions and at different times will tell you what you need to know about practical concerns, such as noise levels and parking availability.

Please note that if you are obtaining a mortgage, your lender will arrange for a valuation of the property. It’s important to remember that this valuation isn’t a survey, and shouldn’t be mistaken for one.

The checks you should carry out

During the conveyancing process, we will send you a title plan which shows the boundary of the property outlined in red, and you will be asked to check this. It’s a good idea to take this plan along to the property and make sure the shape on the plan accords with the situation on the ground. Doing this is important, and can avoid any confusion about what is and isn’t included in your property records. You also need to look out for issues that may not be apparent from the paperwork, such as shared driveways or rights of way or footpaths, that you might want us to clarify.

Exchanging contracts and completion

Once contracts have been exchanged and your deposit has been paid, you are legally committed to the purchase. A date is then set for completion. At this point, the balance of the purchase price is paid to the seller, and any stamp duty payable is settled. You will become a property owner, and we will register your title with the Land Registry.

Here to help

Our Conveyancing team are on hand to answer any questions you may have. Please call us on 0330 221 8855, or contact us online.

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