Buying your first home is such an exciting time, but it can feel daunting too. At andersonbain, we work with first-time buyers daily, so we understand the concerns you might have. Our highly experienced, professional and friendly conveyancing lawyers are here to put your mind at ease and make your first property purchase a positive experience.
You’re bound to have numerous questions about the financial and legal aspects, as well as practical matters such as, “when can we move in?”. Here we answer some of the most common questions our clients ask us. If you would like any further information, or to find out more about our conveyancing service, please get in touch.
- What size of deposit will I need for my first home?
- When should I apply for a mortgage?
- What costs are involved in buying a property?
- Do I have to use a conveyancing solicitor?
- How much are conveyancing fees?
- I’ve viewed a property I’m interested in. What is the next step?
- How much should I offer for a property?
- How do I make an offer and what happens next?
- My offer has been accepted. What now?
- Will I be able to find out about any problems with the property?
- Can I back out of the purchase if I change my mind?
- How long does the conveyancing process take?
- When will I be able to move into my new property?
Most lenders require at least 10% of the property value or the purchase price, whichever is lower. The larger the deposit, the lower your monthly repayments and the better the interest rates will be. So, it’s a good idea to save up as much as you can.
Several schemes are running in Scotland to help people get onto the property ladder, such as the First Home Fund, which reopened on 1 April 2021, and will be available on purchases completed before 31 March 2022. It is a shared equity scheme where the Scottish Government can provide you with up to £25,000 to help you buy your first home.
It’s sensible to get an ‘agreement in principle’ (also known as a ‘decision in principle’) as soon as you feel financially able to buy your first home. This allows you to find out how much you can borrow and helps narrow your property search to those you can afford. It also means that you’ll be able to make a sensible offer as soon as you find the right property and will show the seller that you’re serious about buying.
In addition to your mortgage and mortgage lender’s fees, you should budget for the legal costs (charged by your conveyancing solicitor) and Land and Building Transaction Tax (LBTT). LBTT is the tax charged on properties costing over £145,000. There may also be several unexpected costs, for example, if you decide to carry out an independent survey to assess the condition of the property. We recommend you have an amount set aside for these, just in case.
NOTE – During COVID-19, the LBTT threshold in Scotland was raised, and no tax was due on properties up to the value of £250,000. However, from 1 April 2021, rates have returned to their normal level.
It’s not compulsory to instruct a conveyancing solicitor when buying a property; however, it’s strongly recommended. Conveyancing is a complex process, requiring extensive knowledge of the legal issues and processes involved, as well as specific problem solving and risk management skills, to ensure it runs smoothly and quickly.
Our conveyancing solicitors are here to protect your interests and get you the best deal possible. We get great satisfaction out of helping people like you become owners of their first home. Throughout our relationship, we provide clear explanations and advice, keep you well informed and answer any questions you have promptly. We can also help with several other services you might require, such as writing a Will and family law.
Do contact us to find out more about our service and to get a detailed fee quote.
Conveyancing costs vary from firm to firm and depend on the property and how complicated the transaction is. When assessing different quotes, make sure they’re fully itemised. The quote should include the lawyer’s fees and all additional costs they’ll have to pay out on your behalf – these are known as outlays. Examples of outlays include expenses for obtaining searches and title deeds, and Land and Building Transaction Tax (LBTT).
Unexpected costs can arise, so it’s important to be prepared for this. Your lawyer should provide you with as much information as they possibly can. At andersonbain, we give detailed and honest quotations for our conveyancing services, including all fixed and conceivable costs.
Contact us as soon as possible so we can submit a note of interest on your behalf. By doing this, the property should not be taken off the market without allowing you to make an offer. At the same time, we’ll find out how many other notes of interest have been made, if there are any offers and if there’s a closing date. We’ll also send you the Home Report, which provides information about the property’s condition and energy efficiency, as well as details from the owner on parking and alterations, among others.
Our solicitors can help you work out what to offer. We have in-depth knowledge of the property markets in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and the surrounding areas. All the relevant information, including previous sales in the area, the level of interest in the property and its condition, will be assessed. This insight is crucial in helping our clients make a reasonable and persuasive offer.
If you decide to make an offer on the property, our conveyancing lawyers will contact the seller’s solicitors with the details. Depending on the level of interest in the property, you may get a response from the seller shortly after or not until the closing date. We’ll be in touch with you as soon as we know if you’ve been successful or not.
The seller’s solicitor will provide us with a ‘qualified acceptance’. This means the property will be yours as long as you and the buyer can agree on all the necessary details, including the date of entry, what’s included in the price and several legal formalities. We will negotiate these matters on your behalf with the seller’s solicitor in a series of exchanged letters, called missives. Once you and the seller are in complete agreement, the missives are concluded, and they form a legally binding contract.
We will carry out all relevant searches on the property, including the title deeds, and local authority and environmental searches. These checks ensure you obtain as much information about the property as possible and that any problems are identified. Searches make sure the seller has legal title to sell the property and check for restrictions on the use of the property, building regulations and flooding risks, among other issues. If any problems come up, we will advise you if any action should be taken.
Further, the Home Report provided by the seller includes a survey of the property, giving you important details about the current condition and value of the property. In some situations, buyers choose to instruct an independent survey. Our lawyers will let you know if they recommend you do this. Do be aware that some mortgage providers will insist on an additional survey.
You can change your mind about the sale up until the conclusion of missives; however, this is rare. If you decide to pull out after this point, the seller can take court action against you, and you could be ordered to pay compensation to them. You must contact us if you’re having any doubts about the transaction as soon as possible. We’ll provide advice and reassurance and aim to negotiate an arrangement with the seller that works for you.
The conveyancing process takes between 6 and 12 weeks on average – while very straightforward transactions can take less time and complicated purchases much longer. Once we know more about your transaction, including details about you, the seller, the property and any property chain, we can give you a realistic time frame. However, it’s important to be aware that unexpected delays can and do happen. Our solicitors will tackle any hold-ups early and work hard to keep your transaction moving swiftly.
On the date of entry, which you and the seller will have previously negotiated, the purchase price is transferred from us to the seller’s solicitor. Once this has happened, you’ll be able to pick up the keys and start moving your possessions into the property. It’s not usually possible to provide a specific time, as several steps must be completed on the day. However, our team will aim to have all matters completed as early as possible so you can move into your first property and start this exciting chapter of your life without delay.
Contact our Conveyancing Solicitors in Edinburgh and Aberdeen, Scotland
If you would like to find out more about how we can assist you when buying your first home, please get in touch to discuss your particular situation and needs – our conveyancing lawyers are always happy to help. You can call us on 01224 456 798 (Aberdeen) or 0131 228 2000 (Edinburgh) or use our online contact form.