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!”