First-time buyer’s Guide to the highs and lows of property purchase

By Raspberry Jim,

Buying a new home is frequently listed as one of the most stressful experiences in life.

In fact, a recent survey of 2,000 people revealed that the majority felt purchasing a house was even more stressful than having a baby.

While that may shock some prospective house hunters, for many others this revelation won’t be a surprise.

Funding hurdles, paperwork problems, surveys, chain disputes, and title defects, are just some of the common issues which first-time buyers will be all too familiar with.

Here Julie Miles, a conveyancer and Chartered Legal Executive at leading Cardiff-based firm CJCH Solicitors, offers her advice on ensuring your buying experience helps you unlock the door to home sweet home.

Instruct a Solicitor

You’ve found your dream home and your offer has been accepted, so the first step is to instruct a solicitor.

It is often better to instruct a solicitor that has been recommended to you by family or friends, who will put your interests first, rather than a firm suggested by the agent who is likely to have a referral arrangement with them.

Ask the solicitor to provide an estimate at the outset of the costs and disbursements (costs paid to third parties on your behalf) so you can budget accordingly.

Respond as quickly as possible to any information requested by your solicitor and agree with them a realistic preferred timescale at the outset.

Funding

Unless you have an impressive savings account, then the next step will be to obtain confirmation of funding and a mortgage.  

You may have a Financial Advisor who can source the best deal for your circumstances, if not, most major lenders are on hand to help. 

It is important that you provide your advisor or lender with the most accurate information from the start to avoid any delays later down the line. Most lenders are able to issue an offer within 21 days.

If you have saved in a Help to Buy Isa account your lawyer will arrange for the government bonus to be paid to them on completion. But ensure your solicitor is informed so they can advise you when to close the account in readiness for completion.

What you see is what you buy

The property will be sold “as it stands” and whilst it may look wonderful to you, you would not wish to discover any nasty surprises once you have moved in.

For this reason, it is advisable to arrange a survey. This can either be done alongside the funding application or independently.  This will be an additional cost but will provide you with a qualified surveyor’s report of the property, highlighting any urgent repair work.

A survey may also reveal excessive repair work, and if the seller is not willing to negotiate on price, you may be forced to withdraw your offer.

These common issues frequently face first-time buyers and impact on the average six to eight-week timescale provided.

Why would it take so long?

Your solicitor will check the title deeds to the property, carrying out searches and enquiries to ensure that you buy a good and marketable property title.

A title proves that you own the property and no-one else has the right to purchase this.

This is a title that you will be able to sell without difficulty in future.  This will also be the requirement of your lender.

Often there are problems with the title – perhaps the plan is wrong, a deed is missing, there is no right of way to the front door, the correct Planning Permissions were not obtained  – the list is endless.

Common delays tend to be caused by waiting for answers to pre-contract enquires. This could be due to solicitors on the other side not responding promptly, or they are not receiving the information needed from their clients to respond.

These issues and the proposed solutions will be drawn to your attention as soon as they are noticed.

If there is a title defect, initially the seller’s solicitors will be asked to solve it. This can cause a delay as the involvement of third parties may need to be introduced to resolve the defect.

There can also be delays in the chain. Perhaps someone doesn’t want to move until a certain date or perhaps a buyer at the top of the chain is having difficultly arranging a mortgage or has had an adverse survey, forcing them to withdraw which will have a knock on effect for the chain below.

These delays are not unusual and it is important for buyers to have realistic expectations following the advice of their lawyer who will work to ensure the process runs as efficiently as possible.

It is important to be prepared for such matters, to avoid disappointment if intended timescales are significantly altered.

Whatever happens being prepared and flexible when it comes to this process really is key. Things can, and sometimes will go wrong, but most things can be resolved by a legal expert.

CJCH Solicitors has over 35 years’ of experience in property matters and conveyancing. Whether you are purchasing your first home, a buy-to-let property or expanding your property portfolio, its specialist team will guide you through the process tailoring the service to your needs. For more information visit https://www.cjchsolicitors.co.uk/

First-time buyer’s guide to the highs and lows of property purchase

By Raspberry Jim,

Untitled design-16

Buying a new home is frequently listed as one of the most stressful experiences you can go through.

In fact, a recent survey of 2,000 people revealed that the majority felt purchasing a house was even more stressful than having a baby.

While that may shock some prospective house hunters, for many others this revelation won’t be a surprise.

One such person is CJCH Solicitors’ paralegal Amy Palin.

Having bought her first home in Penarth in October 2017, Ms Palin is familiar with the highs and lows of purchasing a property.

However, thanks to her experience in conveyancing at the Cardiff-based legal firm, the 23-year-old had a unique perspective as a first-time buyer.

To mark New Homes Week, running from May 14 to the 18, she discusses her personal, and professional, experience when it comes to buying a home.

She said: “It was quite interesting to be looking into buying my own home after seeing so many of our clients go through this process with our help.

“As a new buyer your main concern is keeping the costs low, because purchasing a home can be expensive, so your aim is to keep the spending to a minimum.

“You also want to complete as quickly as possible because you want everything to be sorted so you can start getting excited about moving in.

“While I know the process thoroughly thanks to my day job, it is entirely different when you are the buyer.”

Ms Palin’s conveyancing period took around two and a half months to complete, but like many buyers, she was not immune from issues which threatened to cause unwanted delays.

Funding hurdles, paperwork problems, mortgage valuations and surveys, and disputes with a seller, are just some of the common concerns which could crop up and cause inevitable delays to the purchase.

On average the conveyancing process can take up to two months to complete, however that can stretch to up to four months or longer depending on the situation, Miss Palin said.

She added: “I was aware of the potential for delays and problems and how common this is. But when it is your own home, and you are making the purchase, it can be quite stressful.

“In our scenario, there was a tenant living in the property previously, who was due to vacate the house two days before we moved in. Unfortunately, they had not moved out as expected which we thought could delay our completion date and moving in date.

“Thankfully, it didn’t, but issues such as this are frequent when you are buying a home and there is a chain involved.”

As a paralegal at CJCH Solicitors, which has over 35 years’ experience in handling property matters and conveyancing, Miss Palin said it was important for buyers to have realistic expectations and expect the unexpected.

She said: “Having gone through this myself, and supporting clients at work, we would advise prospective buyers not to have overly ambitious expectations. While every purchaser, and conveyancer acting for them, will work to ensure the process will run as efficiently as possible, unexpected things can occur.

“It is important to be prepared for that, so there is not too much disappointment if intended timescales are significantly altered.”

She also warned that costs can mount up quickly thanks to the various experts involved in supporting the purchase.

She said: “Many people don’t necessarily realise the cost which is attached to buying a home, especially if it is your first time. There may be many costs that you haven’t even considered.

“For example, contact with the conveyancer for constant updates on your transaction can mount up cost-wise. Quite often it may simply be the solicitor is waiting, for example, for searches to return and there isn’t anything yet to report, but a query will still be charged to the buyer.

“As well as this, it is important that home buyers, who are also selling, are aware early on of all the documents that will be required. This will help to keep costs to a minimum by, first of all, avoiding any delays which could cause costs to increase or, worse, the need to pay for indemnity insurance for their prospective buyer for the missing documents.”

But if there is an issue, particularly a legal problem, what can buyers do?

“It would depend on the problem,” said Miss Palin.

“If there is an issue which cannot be easily resolved, buyers might need to explore whether they are willing to take the time and accept the extra cost to deal with this, or whether they do not want to continue with the purchase.

“Whatever happens being prepared and flexible when it comes to this process really is key. Things can, and sometimes will go wrong, but most things can be resolved by a legal expert.

“Most commonly delays tend to be caused by waiting for answers to queries, this could be due to solicitors on the other side not responding promptly, or that they are not receiving the information needed from their clients to respond.

“In these cases, it is essential that buyers can speak openly and effectively with their solicitor or conveyancer to help ascertain what is causing the delay and resolve it quickly.

“In spite of all our efforts this type of delay is often unpredictable, as it will depend on what arises throughout searches, the reliability of all those involved, and other factors. But we always keep our clients up to date on what is happening.

“At CJCH Solicitors we are always on hand to help and have an expert conveyancing and property team who will help you unlock the door to your new home, minus the stress!”