A quick guide for first time buyers


21 September 2018

By Bakshi Dhanda

Buying a home is stressful, especially for first-time buyers, so it’s wise to do some research to ensure that you familiarise yourself with the process. Conveyancing is the term that refers to the legal process of transferring one person’s property (the seller), to another (the buyer).

What does the process involve?

Put simply; this is what conveyancing looks like from start to finish:

  • Work out your budget & arrange your mortgage –  you can do this through your local bank, a mortgage broker or financial advisor.
  • Once you have found the property you want, now it is the time to make the offer! This is also the time to raise any conditions you have for example like the look of the bedroom wardrobes – discuss it with the Seller to see if they are leaving them behind.
  • Once the offer is accepted you will need to arrange a full survey to check the property’s condition, and your solicitor will review any legal issues.
  • The checks will include a wide range of examinations, including the structural integrity of the property, whether there’s any signs of subsidence, damp or damage, and whether there are any existing plans for the immediate area that may impact the property.  Your solicitor will also check with the local authority, utilities and environmental department to find out if there are common drains that serve multiple properties, there is any history of land contamination, or if you are responsible for any shared public access points. They’ll also look at the deeds and boundaries to see if there are any disputes with neighbouring properties. If everything comes back okay, you can move onto the next level – Buying your home.
  • Exchange –  This is when you pay your deposit, which means you can’t back out of the deal without losing a lot of money.
  • Completion –  Now you hand over the rest of the money for the house in exchange for both the keys and the deeds. At this point, the property is legally yours.

You should note that nobody is legally bound to complete the transaction until contracts are exchanged.

What is Gazumping?

This term refers to another buyer offering more money to the seller than you have, and the seller goes back on the deal you made. Sadly, you can’t legally protect yourself from this happening if this occurs prior to exchange. However, it’s always worth asking the seller to take the property off the market as part of your original offer. This rapidly reduces the likelihood of another buyer submitting a higher price.

What is Gazanging?

Gazanging is when the seller cancels the sale to stay in their property. This could occur when the market price shoots up as there’s a good chance the seller will make more money if they wait to sell in a few months’ time.

In the unfortunate even that you suffer from either gazumping or gazanging, you’ll probably lose a lot of money, especially if this occurs just before the point of exchange. Typically, both your solicitor and surveyor will have carried out a lot of work, costing you both your precious time and money.  All you can do is act quickly when it comes to finalising the offer and exchanging the contracts. This will probably involve working with your solicitor and mortgage lender to speed things up.

Finding a mortgage and doing all the checks

If you are buying a property then make sure you’ve got your finances in place first. If you go house hunting before you’ve gone mortgage hunting, you’ll complicate the process, especially if you don’t get the full amount you need and have to scrabble around to make up the shortfall.  Don’t automatically go with the first lender you find; mortgage products change almost daily. There are so many mortgage lenders out there, all hustling for your business, especially if you’ve got an excellent credit score. It’s almost inevitable that another lender will match your bank’s offer, or even try to tempt you with a better deal.

Always get a personalised mortgage illustration: this should highlight the important features of your mortgage. Taking out this kind of loan is a massive commitment, so do your due diligence and don’t sign up for anything you’ll regret later on. Remember, a mortgage typically lasts for 25 years, so this is a long-term commitment and not something to be rushed into without a lot of careful thought.

Once you’ve got your finances straight, it’s time to…

Choose Your Conveyancing Specialist

They’ll handle all the paperwork, assist with queries that you or your Lender may have and conduct the necessary searches required. Once your Solicitor is satisfied with the title they  will report to you and your Lender in order to facilitate exchange and completion.

Top Tip: Budget up to £1,500 for hiring a conveyancing solicitor.

It’s recommended that you find a legal expert who is familiar with conveyancing early on. This makes the process a whole lot smoother and helps to ensure everything goes through as quickly as possible.

Top Tip: When you choose your Conveyancing Solicitor make sure they are a firm approved by your Lender – if you Solicitor is not on the panel for the Lender this will increase your legal costs. Your Lender will look to appoint a panel approved Solicitor to act on their behalf. Your chosen Solicitor will be able to confirm to you if they are on the Lenders approved panel.

This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Gepp Solicitors have been successfully helping clients buy and sell property for generations. If you would like an indication of the legal costs involved please contact our New Business Team on either 01245 343980 or newbusiness@gepp.co.uk