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8 top tips for first time buyers in London

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The property market in London is very expensive and can be very unpredictable, after years of saving for your first ever home, congratulations on getting everything in order to be able to accomplish this. Now you’ll want to be able to feel in control when undergoing your conveyancing process and for it to be as stress-free as possible. It’s important that you check out all the areas of London to see which place would be a better fit for you as an individual or as a family, for example, if you have been eyeing an area such as Shoreditch, you may want to check out the schools, job opportunities, and crime rate, as well as things to do in Shoreditch, so you are getting a home that fits into what you need.

These are 8 tips that can help you put to bed any stress when buying your first home in London.

1. Make yours the best offer

The property market in London is very competitive and once you have put an offer down for a property, there are going to be another dozen people doing the same.

A seller is looking for this process to be as quick as possible and for there to be no problems whatsoever with your mortgage finance. This is why it is an excellent idea to back up your bid with your mortgage in principle, alongside the details of your property solicitor. This will show the seller that you are serious and organised and put you one step closer to your dream home.

2. Do your homework on the property price

It can be very difficult deciding what price to pitch your offer at, especially when there is so much competition.

It is a great idea to have a look at what price other properties sold for in your local area – you’ll be able to check some of these out on Rightmove, Zoopla and the UK House price index, or even read more about it here on the site of an estate agent like Finlay Brewer. If you are getting a mortgage, your mortgage lender will be able to give you some help at whether they feel the amount you are paying is correct.

The bank may also feel like the property is not worth what you’re looking to pay, which will lead you to either have to make up the difference yourself (unlikely that you’ll have that amount of money just lying around) or you’ll have to try your best to renegotiate with the seller.

3. Choose a property solicitor with London experience

After your offer has been accepted and up until your property is registered you will be going through a legal process undertaken by a solicitor or a conveyancer in London. Whoever you decide to choose needs to ensure that they have excellent communication, this process can be confusing at times and you need to have someone whom you can get in contact with quickly, who will be able to answer all your questions and sort out any problems.

If you are having trouble choosing who to instruct have a look at Google reviews or ask friends and family if they have anyone to recommend. I know this process isn’t exactly cheap but it is important not to go for the cheapest as it will not ensure speed or quality!

4. Book your mortgage valuation as soon as your sale is agreed

Once the conveyancing process has begun you will want to get your mortgage valuation booked ASAP! Your lender’s valuation can take up to 4 weeks to come back as there are many things they will have to do before typing up their report.

5. Always get survey to inspect the structure of the property

It’s a common mistake to think a mortgage valuation is the same as a homebuyer survey, this can leave many people facing high costs of fixing up the property after they’ve moved in. Instead, you might like to use that amount to upgrade the house interior or spend on decorating your new space. For that, you might have even explored a few home improvement and interior ideas (check it out here) to create a space that resonates with your personality. So, look for structural damages before purchasing a property to avoid unnecessary expenses later.

Always remember if you don’t spot defects of the property before completion then you will have to pay to fix them yourself. A home buyers survey will focus on identifying everything from cracks in the wall to reviewing the roof and loft space.

There are 2 different types of surveys, make sure you order the correct one! The HomeBuyer Report is suitable for flats, bungalows and standard houses, a Building Survey will apply for anything else.

6. Don’t make yourself homeless

If you are currently living in a rental you may feel overexcited and want to hand in your notice to your landlord as soon as your offer is accepted – don’t do this! Anything can happen and the seller could pull out, leaving you being evicted and without a home to go to – and no-one wants to sleep on a friend’s floor!

Remember to wait to until you have exchanged contracts before you hand in your notice.

7. Protect yourself from failed legal fees

There is so much uncertainty in the property market, some solicitors offer a no sale no fee service however there are some who will charge for this fee and some who cover parts but not all of the legal costs. Always read the small print and don’t be afraid to ask what would happen if your purchase was to fall through.

You don’t want to be left without a property and with a huge bill to pay.

8. Don’t take your eye off the property market

It is important to keep having viewings and to carry on having conversations with local estate agents about any new properties that are coming onto the market. This is because until you have exchanged contracts anything could happen. By doing this, if the worst was to happen then you will have other options that you can explore.

Andrew Boast MAAT MIC

Co-founder of SAM Conveyancing