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5 things you need to know when buying your first home

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Buying your first home is normally the biggest financial investment you will have made up to that point. It is therefore understandable to be concerned about getting it right and not being caught out by unexpected issues that could end up costing you a lot of time, money and hassle to sort out.

There are all sorts of things you need to be on top of when buying your first home, so it pays to get as much support and advice as possible. The following are five key things you need to know when buying your first home to avoid any major issues and get a place you’ll be happy living in for years to come.

Understand the value of checks, searches and surveys

Various checks and searches need to be carried out when buying a home. Some are compulsory, such as anti money laundering checks, while others will depend on what you and your conveyancer feel is appropriate.

It is standard to check with the local council, the Environment Agency and the Coal & Water Authorities for any issues likely to impact the property, such as a risk of flooding or any rights of way across your property. A local planning search is also highly recommended to see if there are any developments planned in the local area.

It is also a good idea to have a building survey, where a qualified surveyor will check the property for any structural problems and issues such as damp. These kinds of issues can be very expensive to fix, so a building survey is well worth the money, even if just to give you peace of mind.

Know the difference between freehold and leasehold

Many people do not realise when searching for their first property that the majority of flats and an increasing number of new build houses are sold on a leasehold basis. This means you are buying a fixed-term lease on the property, rather than buying the property outright.

As a result, you will be required to pay the person who owns the freehold on the property ground rent and service charges, covering things such as cleaning communal areas. You will also need to be aware how long is left on the lease as the resale value of the leasehold will decrease the fewer years there are remaining.

Don’t expect the sale to happen overnight

From the moment when the seller accepts your offer, it generally takes around 6-8 weeks to complete the sale. However, it can take much longer, depending on the circumstances, and exactly how long the whole  conveyancing process will take is often not clear at the outset.

Many people who are renting make the mistake of giving notice on their current home when the sale is agreed, which can leave them homeless if the process takes longer than expected. It is usually more sensible to wait until contracts have been exchanged, at which point a completion date should have been set, but it is still a good idea to give yourself some extra leeway in case of last minute delays.

Choose your conveyancer carefully

Many different firms offer conveyancing and it can be tempting to go with the cheapest. However, given the importance of getting the conveyancing process right, using the cheapest provider can be a false economy.

Often the cheapest firms will have conveyancers with less experience or lower training, meaning there is far more chance of something going wrong. Any mistakes by your conveyancer that delay the sale can cost you time, money and stress, while if they miss an issue with the property, it can have major financial consequences as well as affecting your ability to enjoy living in your new home.

One thing to bear in mind is that many conveyancing firms now work primarily by email and phone, meaning there is no need to use a local company. Instead, you can pick a conveyancing team from anywhere in the country and still get a high quality service.

Beware of conveyancing fraud

Conveyancing fraud is a growing problem and first time buyers are often targeted. Falling victim to a conveyancing scam can potentially leave you massively out-of-pocket and it can be very hard to recover the money if you are stung.

Fraudsters typically operate by sending out emails that appear to be from your conveyancer, asking you to transfer the deposit or other scheduled payments to a specific bank account. The bank details given belong to the fraudsters who will usually then quickly transfer the funds to a different account, making it much harder to get the money back even when you do realise what has happened.

You should therefore never send money to a bank account without first confirming by phone or in person that the account is legitimate with a known contact at your conveyancing firm. It can also be a good idea to send a small amount first as a test and confirm with your solicitor that this has been received,

Get reliable conveyancing support when buying your first home

Bird & Co Solicitors is a long-established law firm offering conveyancing services for properties across England and Wales from our 3 East Midlands offices. Our highly experienced residential property team can make the process of buying your first home as simple and stress-free as possible.

We can take you through the entire process step-by-step, giving you complete confidence that all of the essentials are covered and that there won’t be any nasty surprises waiting for you after the deal is done.

We are accredited by the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme, meaning you can be sure that we operate to the highest possible standards and can provide fast, efficient and cost-effective conveyancing for your first home.

To find out more about our conveyancing for first time buyers, call us today on 01476 591711 or use our contact page to find details of your nearest office.