I remember buying my first property. It seems like only yesterday I felt the excitement and buzz that goes with it.
Everything went smoothly and the process was complete in no time – at least this is how I like to remember it.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing of course. It’s easy to forget the annoying little details like the buying process, appointing solicitors and finding the money. These are the time consuming, and often stressful downsides leading up to the point where you finally get your hands on the keys.
Some years later and with the benefit of hindsight and experience, here are nine tips I would like to share with you on how to take the hard work out of purchasing your first property:
1. Make sure you have enough spare cash to pay for all the extras
One of the things that surprised me when I bought my first property were the various fees involved. These can really add up so make sure you have enough cash in the bank to pay for your deposit, survey, legal fees, stamp duty, reservation deposits and so on.
These can add £2,000 or more to your costs, so it is important to budget so that you don’t find yourself short of money. I found myself sprinting down the high street to reach the bank before closing time and trying to borrow money from friends and family all at the last minute. You don’t need that kind of stress in your life.
2. Appoint a solicitor BEFORE purchasing your property
The legal process of buying a property is notoriously slow. The minimum time it takes to complete the paperwork is usually six weeks and that’s if everything goes perfectly. In reality the process can drag on for a couple of months. If you want to give yourself the best chance of completing early appoint a solicitor as soon as you get your mortgage agreement in writing (and this is important). This can save you up to two weeks.
3. Make sure you get all your paperwork in order
It’s one thing appointing a solicitor, another getting all your paperwork in order. It’s important not to waste time hunting around for any documents you need prior to your meeting with the solicitor. At the minimum you will need to bring along your ID, lender agreement, proof of funds and a bank statement.
4. Appoint a good solicitor
This is very important. Always use recommended solicitor. While good solicitors are not always fast solicitors, make sure you follow up regularly to ensure work is being done.
Solicitors are often juggling several property purchases at once or they disappear on their holidays without letting you know. I had one solicitor who threw a cheque I sent in the bin simply because they didn’t check the envelope.
5. Make sure you know who owns the property
This may just be you in which case you don’t need to worry but if a member of your family is lending or gifting you money for a deposit, be clear on what they might expect from in return.
If they lent you the money, there is a good chance they will want that money back at some point, so if you want to avoid any bitter disputes erupting, then draw up an agreement with the help of a solicitor. It might not be the way things are done between you and your family or friends, but it can save a lot of headaches if there are disputes over money later on. Arguments over money can break up even the best relationships.
6. Protect your asset
Similar to the point made above, most people buy their first home with the help of a partner of help from friends and family. In these cases, a Trust Deed should be put in place just in case you ever need to sell in the future such as during a breakup with a partner or divorce.
7. Get your solicitor to outline the process and update you
If you have a clear idea of what the conveyancing process is, then you are less likely to waste time calling the solicitor unnecessarily, which can sometimes lead to time wasted on both sides. Your solicitor should, however, take the time to keep you informed on how things are progressing.
8. Keep your solicitor in the loop
Buying your first property may not run as smoothly as you think. You may receive certain information from the person selling the property could be important for your solicitor to know. This could be as simple as someone booking a holiday or more complex such as a planning issue. Either way this information should be passed on.
9. Inform your solicitor as soon as your offer is accepted
Once your offer has been accepted make sure you send this news on to your solicitor and the contact details of the seller’s solicitor so that the lines of communication are opened early.