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.


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