What is a first time buyer?
A first time buyer is someone who has never owned or part-owned a property before. If you have previously owned a property but no longer do, you will not be considered a first time buyer if you want to purchase a property again.
The only people who can access government first time buyer schemes are those who have not owned a property at all in the past.
Am I a first time buyer?
For the purposes of a government first time buyer scheme or stamp duty, you are only considered a first time buyer if you have never owned a freehold or leasehold interest in any property before.
This means that if you have previously inherited a property from a loved one, even if you didn’t actually ‘buy it’ as such, you are not considered a first time buyer. To be eligible as a first time buyer, you must also be purchasing a property that will be your primary residence. Various first time buyer schemes will all have their own eligibility criteria, so it’s important to choose the right option for your own situation when looking to purchase your first property. At Stephensons, we offer expert first time buyer conveyancing services to help you navigate the process.
Can I be a first time buyer again in the UK?
If you have ever owned a residential property in any country, you won’t be considered a first time buyer in the UK. This also applies if you have ever inherited or been gifted a property or a share in a property.
How to get a mortgage as a first time buyer
Many banks, building societies and other lenders offer mortgage products aimed specifically at first time buyers. The amount that you’ll be able to borrow will depend on a large number of factors, but primarily on your income.
You can usually approach mortgage lenders yourself to start the application process. However, if you have any special or complex circumstances, it can be in your best interests to use an experienced, whole of market mortgage broker instead to help you find the lender most suited to your situation.
How much deposit does a first time buyer need?
The amount of deposit that a first time buyer needs to purchase a property will vary, but you usually need to save somewhere between 5% to 20% of the purchase price. E.g. if you want to buy a property for £200,000, you will need to have a deposit of at least £10,000 (5%).
It’s generally the case that if you are able to put down a larger proportion of the purchase price as a deposit, the better the mortgage interest rates that you may be offered when borrowing to buy your home. It’s important to take into account the other costs of purchasing a property when calculating how much to save, such home buying costs, moving costs, stamp duty (if your property is more than £300,000), the cost of the mortgage valuation and any surveys you have done.
What does buying my first home involve?
For first time buyers, terms such as stamp duty and conveyancing for buyers may seem overwhelming on top of the stress of saving for a deposit and arranging a mortgage. However, when you are clear on everything that is involved, the process is relatively straightforward.
If you have a solicitor in place at the beginning of the process, they will be able to keep you informed and updated during every step, especially if things seem a bit complicated. The main steps to buying your first home include:
Find a solicitor that is right for you. Here at Stephensons, our solicitors have a wealth of experience to help first time buyers through every step of purchasing their first home. Ensuring you have a solicitor at the start of the process will let estate agents or property developers know you are taking your search for your first home seriously.
Visit estate agents and view properties. The more the better – you will find out what each estate agent offers, how they work and the specifics you are looking for when buying your first home. Developing a relationship with a few estate agents is also a good idea in relation to new properties coming on the market. When agents are aware of first time buyers’ requirements, they will contact you if a suitable property comes on the market.
Find out how much you can afford. When you have a clear understanding of how much you can save for a deposit on your first home, this will also give you guidance on how much to spend on a property. Shop around for a mortgage when you know how much you will need and see who offers the best rates. If first time buyers are buying a new-build property, you may be entitled to apply for the Help to Buy scheme, this means you will only need a 5% deposit.
Make an offer and get a survey done. When you have found your ideal property, get the ball rolling by making an offer; ask your solicitor for guidance on how much to offer if you are unsure. Your solicitor will also be able to give you more information on getting a survey carried out, and stamp duty if you need to pay it (properties up to approximately £125,000 do not need to pay stamp duty). When all this has been finalised, you will be able to exchange contracts and become an official homeowner.
You can rest assured that our dedicated conveyancing team will deliver a personal service and you can be confident that there will always be someone who has worked on your property purchase available to speak to should you need advice and assistance. Whether you are looking for help to buy conveyancing solicitors or are making a standard purchase, we can help.
We understand the importance of being kept up to date with the purchase of your home and as such have developed an online tracking system, to let you check on the progression of your property purchase 24/7. With updates also available by email, post, over the telephone and text message you can be sure that you know where we are up to every step of the way.
To find out more about buying your first property, contact Stephensons on 0161 696 6187 for a free, no obligation initial chat with one of our legal advisors, or fill out our online enquiry form.