13 Jan 2015
Samantha Morrice, Senior Solicitor, looks at considerations for first time buyers.
It's that time of year when everyone thinks about where they want to be this time next year. For lots of people, one dream they have is to purchase their own home. Buying a home is often the single most important financial transaction a person will make in their lifetime, so it’s important to get the first one right. These are my thoughts on what you might want to consider if you are looking to buy a property for the first time.
In the first instance I always advise my clients to find out what they can afford. The majority of first time buyers will be looking to take out a mortgage; an IFA can guide you through the process and check all of the UK based mortgage lenders. Doing this at the outset means that you can start to identify potential properties within your price range at the beginning of your search, which means you are less likely to feel disappointed further down the line. An IFA can also advise whether further savings are required and help you plan your budget, it may just be worth staying with family for a little bit longer for example, but they can also give you advice on other financial matters like life insurance/assurance which you will more than likely need if you are purchasing a property.
When someone is embarking on their search for the first time, it is important to be as open minded as possible and look at different areas. Research the amenities available in the area and if you need to, the schools, transport links and be realistic about what you will get- it is your first home after all! Just think what your first car was like!
You may want to think about buying a place with a partner, relative or friend. There are certainly 'pros' and 'cons' you may need to consider, however your Solicitor and Financial Advisor will be able to advise you about the possible pitfalls.
If you can't find something suitable in your price range it might be an idea to look at other options. Shared Ownership/Shared Equity homes won’t be suitable for everyone as the criteria for both are dependent on individual circumstances.
As you begin to look at properties, it’s important to familiarise yourself with Home Reports. These are usually available on the solicitor or property centre's website and from the selling agent directly. Every property sold in Scotland, subject to some limited exceptions, requires a Home Report prior to being placed on the market for sale. The Home Report is made up of a Single Survey (carried out by a surveyor), an Energy Report and a Property Questionnaire. The Survey gives details about the condition and value of the property, the energy report gives details of a home’s energy efficiency and environmental impact and finally the Property Questionnaire contains basic information about the property such as council tax banding and is completed by the seller.
When you see a property you like, it’s important to get in touch with your solicitor as soon as possible so that a note of interest in the property is submitted on your behalf. Only a solicitor can 'note interest' for you. Once done, the property should not be sold to someone else without you being given the opportunity to offer for it. It is however an informal system and unfortunately you have no legal rights should the seller decide to go with another party’s offer; however the system will usually work to preserve your interest in the property.