Top Tips for First Time Buyers

When the time comes to purchase your new property, you can often find yourself overwhelmed with information. However, following a simple checklist can help make the process easier. This week, we have some top tips for first-time buyers that will ensure everything runs smoothly!

Ask the estate agent important questions about the seller

  • Why are they selling?
  • Are they buying elsewhere?
  • If so, has their offer been accepted?
  • What are the seller’s timeframes for moving?
  • If you’re buying a leasehold property, how long is the lease?
  • What is the current service charge and ground rent for the leasehold property?
  • Are there any major works planned for the leasehold property?

Sort your mortgage

When deciding to put an offer on a property, the estate agent will want you to have a mortgage offer in principle at the time. Therefore, it is important that you have this step out the way before you put in your offer.

Property survey

Although it isn’t a requirement, a property survey can prevent any delays in the event of potential issues that need resolving. When looking at a property, keep an eye out for potential flags that may need further inspection and decide from there if a property survey is required.

Conveyancing quotes

When comparing the conveyancing quotes (i.e. the legal fees for buying), ensure what they are like for like. You may find that come conveyancing quotes include extra fees for things such as leasehold properties or filing your stamp duty land tax return.

Help to buy

If you have a Help to Buy ISA and wish to claim the Help to Buy Bonus, get in touch with your bank to see how long it will take for your ISA account to close. Some banks will close it on the day of request, but others can take longer. This is something to be aware of as it could cause delays when exchanging contracts. However, be sure to consult with your solicitor before closing the account.

Not your money

If any money for your property has been gifted by a friend or family member, this must be made known to your solicitor.

Stamp duty land tax

Be sure to check how much stamp study land tax you will need to pay. This is a confusing topic when buying a property, but your solicitor will be able to make things easier.

Exchange of contracts vs completion

It is important that you understand the difference between ‘exchange of contracts’ and ‘completion’. Exchange of contracts is where you enter into a contract to buy the property from the seller and the seller enters a contract to sell to you. Until you exchange contracts, the purchase is not legally binding, meaning anyone can pull out at any time before this. Completion, on the other hand, is the day when the full purchase price must be paid to the seller and you are given keys to the property. This is the point where you become the legal owner of the property.


When applying for a mortgage, you will be asked how much deposit you will be putting towards your purchase. When solicitors use the word ‘deposit’, they are referring to your exchange deposit. In most cases, this is 10 per cent of the overall cost of the property.

Choose your solicitor wisely

Take your time when choosing a solicitor. You need someone who will be able to explain the process and terminology to you in a way that is clear and easy to understand. They should also be able to guide you through the buying process from start to finish. When meeting with a solicitor for the first time, if you feel like what they’re telling you is too confusing and they fail to reexplain in a way that is understandable, perhaps you should consider searching elsewhere.

Choose the right estate agent

When searching for your property, it helps to have the best estate agent to find you what you’re looking for. At Joule’s Estate Agents, we are known for our extensive knowledge of the Heaton’s. We can find the perfect property in the best area for your budget and way of living. If you’d like to learn more about how we can find you your new home, get in touch.