Buying your first home – the legal process

Once you have found the home of your dreams and agreed the sale you will need to start the conveyancing process and get your finances in place. This is the legal process to buy the property and secure the funds. It can be a daunting process, in this article, we aim to take you through the average legal process of buying your first home, step-by-step.

Arranging your mortgage

Now that you have had an offer accepted it is time to arrange the finance. You should already have determined how much you can borrow and how to finance the mortgage. Your Independent Financial Advisor (IFA) or mortgage broker will now walk you through the process of getting the money sorted. They will ask you to fill out the relevant forms for the mortgage company and the help-to-Buy scheme, if that is what you are using. If you are using the Help-to-Buy equity loan scheme, ensure you get an authorisation to proceed before applying for your mortgage as without this you cannot proceed. Once in place, your IFA will apply for your mortgage. If you already have your decision in principle (DIP) you can ask your IFA to go for a full application. This is where you will need to prove your financial situation with bank statements and payslips or P60’s amongst other evidence as requested by the lender. Your adviser will guide you through this process and ensure that you supply your mortgage provider with what they need. Your lender will require a valuation to be carried out, often at your expense but some mortgage providers do now offer free valuations. If everything is in order with your paperwork and the valuation you will receive a formal mortgage offer. This will need to be passed on to your conveyancing solicitor along with details of the help-to-buy scheme if applicable.

Hiring a solicitor or conveyancer

You will need a conveyancer or solicitor to help you with the purchase of your new home. They will conduct the required searches and also establish the legal framework for the purchase. They will draw your attention to any restrictions or legal issues associated with the property. Please take careful note of the results of the searches and ask your conveyancer to explain anything you don’t understand along with the implications. This can be very confusing so take your time to understand exactly what the situation is. Here is a helpful guide to the conveyancing process. You will need to be patient during this process as it can often be frustrating and time consuming. Once everything has been agreed and you and the seller are happy then it is time to exchange contracts. Once contracts have been exchanged neither you nor the seller can pull out of the sale without financial penalty. If you do pull out, you will forfeit your deposit and any fees you have already paid for valuations or conveyancing fees, so ensure you are 100% positive that you want to buy the house before you exchange contracts. 

Completion

Your solicitor and the seller’s solicitors will agree a completion date. This is the date on which all the financial transactions take place and the property becomes officially yours. Completion only happens once the seller’s solicitor confirms that they have received all the money that is due and you have paid your solicitor their fees. At this point you will be able to collect your keys from the estate agent and you can move in. The seller must give vacant possession on completion day.

You are now the proud owner of your first home, it’s time to crack open the fizz, celebrate with family and friends and look forward to all the fun times you will have  creating your perfect home.

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