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Solicitors for First Time Buyers

Nicola Ryan

Written by Reviewed by Tetyana Rehman

26th Jul 2022 (Last updated on 15th May 2024) 7 minute read

Buying a home can be extremely daunting for first-time buyers. This is because they have never gone through the conveyancing process before. As a first-time buyer, you will need to hire a solicitor. They will ensure your moving process is as seamless as possible. It will also help prevent delays.

In this guide, we’ll take you through everything about finding the best solicitor possible as a first-time buyer. You will feel more confident in the conveyancing process.

  1. Choosing a Solicitor as a First Time Buyer
  2. How Much are Costs for First Time Buyers?
  3. Conveyancing Process for First Time Buyers
  4. What Schemes are Available to First Time Buyers?
  5. If a Purchase Falls Through Will I Still Have to Pay My Solicitor?

Choosing a Solicitor as a First Time Buyer

Hiring a solicitor is not a legal requirement, but it is highly recommended, especially if you are a first-time buyer. This is because, as a first-time buyer, you have not had the previous experience of buying a house. Solicitors are on hand to assist you through the process and will provide advice and guidance if needed.

Solicitors are trained to deal with first-time buyers. However, there are some that specialise in this field and have lots of experience. You can hire conveyancing solicitors or licenced conveyancers.

At Compare My Move, we have a network of conveyancers who are licenced and regulated so you can have peace of mind.

How Much are Costs for First Time Buyers?

First-time buyers can expect to pay an average cost of £277,000 for their first home. This includes the deposit and various other fees. The total cost depends on factors such as the property value. Our Conveyancing Fees Calculator will give you an estimation, so you can budget accordingly.

Here are some fees you need to keep in mind:

Solicitor Costs

When you hire a solicitor, you’ll need to make sure that you can afford to pay their fees. Their rate will be determined by certain factors such as the price of the property and whether you are buying a freehold or leasehold.

For example, the average solicitor fee for a freehold property valued at £277,000 is £1,320. On the other hand, the average fee for a leasehold property at the same price is £1,490.

Land Registry

When buying a house, the buyer must pay a Land Registry fee in order to receive the title deeds. These deeds will officially show that you are the new owner of the property. This will then be passed on to your mortgage provider. The average Land Registry fee is £3.

Survey Fees

Surveys are inspections that detect any defects or issues with the property. They are not legally required but are highly recommended. This is because they can save you lots of money on repairs in the long run.

The level of survey you choose will determine how detailed it is. The RICS Home Survey Level 1 provides basic information while the Level 3 is the most comprehensive survey available. Here is a breakdown of the average house survey costs:

Survey TypeAverage Surveyor Fee (£)
RICS Valuation£320
RICS Level 1 Survey£380
RICS Level 2 Survey£500
RICS Level 3 Survey£800

Stamp Duty Land Tax

Stamp Duty Land Tax is paid upon buying a home over £125,000 in England and Northern Ireland. The amount of Stamp Duty Land Tax you pay is dependent on the value of the property. The higher the property value, the more Stamp Duty you will pay.

The Stamp Duty Land Tax is 5% for the average home costing £277,000.

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Conveyancing Process for First Time Buyers

Having an offer accepted is only the beginning of the conveyancing process. There are lots of legal documents that need to be filed and exchanged before the completion day.

Step 1: Choosing a Solicitor

The first thing you need to do is choose your conveyancing solicitor or conveyancer. Hiring a solicitor early on will prevent any delays throughout the process. All our conveyancing partners are regulated by one of the following: SRA, CLC, LSS, LSNI, or CILEx.

Step 2: Instructing Your Solicitor

The process can begin when you have informed your solicitor that your offer has been accepted. They will ask you for your full name, current address, agreed sale price, and mortgage offer. Equally, you should also let your estate agent know who you have chosen as your solicitor.

The seller’s solicitor will then send a contract pack to your solicitor.

Step 3: Conveyancing Searches

Your solicitor will need to conduct conveyancing searches when you are buying a property. These conveyancing searches are split up into three major sections:

  • Environmental Search
  • Local Authority Search
  • Water and Drainage Search

These searches will determine if there are any environmental problems or issues that you need to know about. These include issues such as flooding, mining, or Chancel Repair.

Step 4: Paying Your Solicitor

You will need to make sure that you’re paying your solicitor or conveyancer fees. These fees will cover the initial legal costs as well as the various disbursements. What are disbursements when buying a house? Disbursements are payments made to third parties during the conveyancing process. They differ depending on whether you are buying or selling a house and there are additional disbursements when buying a leasehold. On average, the total conveyancing fee cost for buying a house is £2,239.

Some fees will need to be paid upfront, while other fees can be paid at the end of the process. You will need to discuss any payment plans or deadlines with your solicitor.

Step 5: Exchanging Contracts

Your solicitor and the seller’s solicitor will exchange contracts. This will render the sale legally binding. This can only take place when the deposit has been paid and you will also receive a completion date.

Step 6: Completion Day

Completion Day is the step in the process that you have been working and paying to get to. This takes place up to a month after the exchange of contracts and is when you will receive the keys to the property. You must make sure that you can be easily contacted on Completion Day. This means you can receive confirmation that the payments have been made to the seller.

Step 7: After Completion Day

Completion Day is often seen as the end of the process, but there are certain tasks that can only be completed afterwards. These include making any Stamp Duty payments. Once these payments are made, you will receive important documents such as the title deeds and transfer deed.

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What Schemes are Available to First Time Buyers?

There are a variety of schemes that first-time buyers can take advantage of. This involved a variety of cheap conveyancing options. These schemes can help you to build your savings while receiving financial bonuses from the government. Here are the various schemes you should be aware of:

Lifetime Individual Savings Account

The Lifetime Individual Savings Account, known as a LISA, is a savings account that can be used to save up money for properties valued at £450,000 or under. Applicants must be between 18 and 39 when opening the account.

Help to Buy Schemes

There is also a variety of Help to Buy Schemes that you can take advantage of. These include:

  • Help to Buy ISA (this ISA is now closed to new applicants)
  • Help to Buy: Equity Loan
  • Help to Buy: Mortgage Guarantee Scheme
  • Help to Buy – Wales
  • Homebuy – Wales
  • Help to Buy – Scotland (this scheme is now closed. Applicants can apply for the Smaller Developer)
  • Help to Buy – Northern Ireland (this scheme is now closed)

Most sellers of help to buy properties will have help to buy solicitors that will make the process easier.

If a Purchase Falls Through Will I Still Have to Pay My Solicitor?

You may still have to pay your solicitor if your purchase falls through, especially if this happens later in the process. The best way to determine whether you will have to pay your solicitor is to check if they offer “no sale, no fee” in advance.

If they don’t offer “no sale, no fee”, then you will most likely be liable for any costs should the purchase fall through. The total cost differs depending on the solicitor. Some solicitors will charge a fixed percentage, while others charge an hourly rate.

You can take out Home Buyers' Protection Insurance. This covers you fully or partially if a purchase falls through. Home Buyers’ Protection Insurance can cover conveyancing fees up to £750 and mortgage fees up to £250.

If your solicitor is “no sale, no fee”, you may still have to pay for disbursements. This includes tasks such as Stamp Duty Land Tax or Land Registry fees. If your purchase is complicated, there will most likely be more disbursements. Therefore, you need to make sure that you can afford the risk.

Nicola Ryan

Written by Nicola Ryan

Nicola focusses on all things moving house at Compare My Move where she writes articles for the advice centre, guiding users through everything they need to know about moving house.

Tetyana Rehman

Reviewed by Tetyana Rehman

Senior Solicitor, JBGass

With over 15 years of experience in property law, Tetyana is a senior solicitor at JBGass.

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