Timms Solicitors: First Time Buyer Guide

small house on grass

If you are a first time buyer you will surely be excited about the prospect of owning your first home but perhaps a little daunted by what the process will entail.  Hopefully our First Time Buyer Guide will answer some of your questions.

It’s an exciting time and hopefully as you read this, you’ve chosen a property and maybe even had your offer accepted? If you are looking for a quote for legal fees, click onto our online calculator or contact us on freephone 0800 011 6666.

Here’s what to do next…..

Communication Between You and Your Conveyancer

Once your offer has been accepted you will need to instruct a conveyancer to take care of the legal side of moving, which is where the legal title to the property passes from the seller to you, the buyer.

Your conveyancer will carry out searches and ask the seller’s solicitors questions to gather as much information as possible so you can make an informed decision about the property you are buying. If you have a specific question or concern about the property it is important that you tell your conveyancer as soon as possible so the conveyancer can make further enquiries for you.

First Time Buyer – What Your Conveyancer Will and Will Not Do

The conveyancer’s role is to look into the legal aspects of the house you are buying.

This includes things like:

  • Checking that the seller is entitled to sell the property and whether there are any restrictive covenants which might affect your use and enjoyment of the property.
  • Asking questions of the seller about matters such as boundary responsibility, responsibility for any shared items such as private drives and whether the correct paperwork and guarantees are in place for any works that have been carried out at the property, to name a few.
  • Making sure that the necessary planning permissions are in place and that there are no current planning issues.
  • Checking whether there are any additional costs for the property, such as service charges and ground rent.

Your conveyancer will not be responsible for the following things:

  • Structural or building issues with the property.
  • The condition of the boiler and other appliances and the condition of the plumbing, electrics and other services.

First Time Buyer – Surveys

Your conveyancer will not be responsible for your survey, but you should provide a copy of your survey to your conveyancer in case the surveyor highlights any issues requiring further investigation that your conveyancer would not have otherwise known about.

There are various types of survey which go into different levels of detail depending on what information you require:

  • A Lender’s Valuation Report is carried out by and is for the benefit of the mortgage lender to satisfy the lender that the value of the house is the same as what you have agreed to pay for it. A lender will not usually issue a mortgage offer until the valuation has been carried out. The cost of this survey is usually paid for by you as the borrower and is paid direct to the mortgage lender.
  • A Homebuyers Report provides more detail and will give you key information on the main features of the house, outlining any urgent or major issues that you should be aware of.
  • A full Building Survey provides even more detail and can be tailored to meet your specific requirements. This is the most expensive survey and buyers of older houses or houses built using non-traditional construction methods would benefit from this type of survey.

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) website contains lots of useful information if you are not sure which survey, if any, to choose.

First Time Buyer – What Else Do You Need to Think About?

Your conveyancer and surveyor will take care of the technical stuff but there are some things you can do in the meantime:

  • Visit the property again, perhaps on a different day and at a different time of day, to see what the noise and traffic levels are like. Check for any potential issues such as shared driveways, rights of way and obvious signs of problems with the structure of the property. Remember, your conveyancer will not visit the property so make sure you let them know of anything you might see in the surrounding area that you might want them to investigate further or advise you on.
  • Check online for information and statistics on the area such as crime, politics, transport links and broadband access.
  • Manage your money. Make sure you know the cost of the conveyancer’s fees and disbursements and the cost of the survey. Budget for your first mortgage payment and subsequent bills.

As a first time buyer, hopefully this guide has given you an insight into the process but if you have any questions or queries, please feel free to contact our team on freephone 0800 011 6666.


Lisa Collett
April 2021

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