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Buying a Home - Conveyancing for First Time Buyers

Buying your first home is an extremely exciting time but it can also be a time of uncertainty.

At Attwells Solicitors we guide our first time buyers through the process of buying a home. We understand that as a first-time buyer a lot of the legal jargon and the conveyancing process itself will be completely foreign to you. Therefore, we have created a bespoke service designed to meet your needs. 


The first thing we would recommend is arranging your conveyancer. Even if you are just browsing it is still a good idea to arrange your conveyancer as they can offer you expert property advice which is not determined by commission or sales targets. We are here to help you as legal professionals. 

To arrange your conveyancer now simply click the below. We will ask you to complete a brief form and pay a small deposit. This will be deducted from your final conveyancing bill which is not due until you exchange contracts. 


Guidance for First Time Buyers

Once you have arranged your conveyancer you may be keen to know the following:

How First Time Buyers can get a mortgage

Over the last few years, lenders have had to tighten up their affordability criteria. This was due to the financial crisis in 2008 which was partly due to banks offering unaffordable lending. This has made obtaining a mortgage more challenging than in the past, but there are things you can do. 

Firstly, we would recommend you check your credit score. According to Credit Karma a good credit score is between 604 to 627, with an excellent score considered to be between 628 and above. Normally credit scores are out of 700. 

Ironically to have a good credit score you need to have had credit. Having a credit card and paying off the balance in full each month can help you achieve this. Likewise keeping household bills up to date, even if it’s just your Now TV pass or mobile phone bill. All of these things will inform a lender that the risk of lending to you is low. 

Next you need to start saving, you will require at least a 10% deposit. The best way to do this is to have a range of saving accounts that you put money into monthly via a standing order. A standing order can be set up using your online or mobile banking. 

By saving in a range of account types such as a basic saver, ISA and/or stocks and shares account you will not be reliant on the basic interest rate but equally you will not be risking all your money in a higher interest stocks and shares account either. 

Your employment status is equally as important. Lenders would prefer that you have been employed for at least six months. This is because your employer can no longer easily dismiss you. When applying for your mortgage the lender will require at least three months of pay slips. If you are self-employed you will need to produce your accounts for the last two to three years.

Based on this information the lender will work out how much you can borrow. They normally do this by timesing your gross income (what you earn before tax) by 4. Some lenders will times your gross income by 4.5 or even 5, but often these mortgages will incur higher interest rates making your monthly repayment higher. If you are buying as a couple you will be able to borrow more as your joint income will be timsed. However, we would strongly recommend you arrange a Declaration of Trust

In addition, some lenders will also take into consideration benefits you receive or child maintenance. You will need to prove however that this is a guaranteed income, like for example the Personal Independence Payments (PIP) which are considered a lifetime benefit for those who are disabled. You may also be able to consider Child or Family Tax Credits if your children are young. This is helpful for single parents. 

Every lender will have their own lending criteria so if you are unsuccessful with one lender don’t give up. 


Addition Moving Costs

  • Estate Agents Fees – Estate agents will not charge you a fee for buying. 
  • Our Legal Fees – Your legal fees are based on the property value. As you are buying your first home these are likely to be lower.
  • Land Registry Fees – Again this depends on the value of your property and if you are purchasing as a freeholder or as leaseholder. From £0 to £80,000 the fees are £20-£40. From £80,0001 to £100,000 they are £40-£80. £100,0001 to £200,000 you’ll pay between £95-£190. The next bracket, £200,001 to £500,000 you’ll pay £135-£270. For a property between £500,001 to £1,000,000 the fees are £270-£540 and finally for properties over £1,000,000 its between £455-£910.
  • Removal Costs – This very much depends on your needs. If you are moving out of a bedroom or house share you may find hiring a van is much cost effective. In Ipswich Gallagher Car and Van Rentals offer van rental form £48.60 per day. In Colchester we would recommend Thrifty Car and Van Rental, their prices start from £73.98 per day. These companies by also supply van hire across the East Anglia.   

Finding Your First Home

There are many ways you can purchase your new home as a first-time buyer. These options very much depend on the type of property you buy and your income. As a first-time buyer you can take advantage of the following methods.

Shared Ownerships

A Shared Ownership is when you buy a percentage of a property and rent the remaining percentage from a housing association. A Shared Ownership can apply to new builds or pre-owned properties. The minimum percentage you can purchase is 25% although this is set by the housing association so can vary. Alternatively, it will depend on the percentage being sold if you are buying a pre-owned property. 

If you are interested in a Shared Ownership property you need to first check you meet the criteria. Shared Ownerships are offered in accordance to priority, with the highest priority given to those serving in the Army or veterans. They also give priority to those with disabilities, single parent families and local residents, especially in rural locations.

When you apply for a Shared Ownership the agent will calculate the monthly costs associated with the property. This will include your mortgage, rent and any service charges. Upon approval of the affordability check you will be invited to view the property.  

The other notable difference is you don’t bid or make an offer on the property. The asking price is not up for negotiation. You simply express your interest normally via an email or phone call to the agent who will keep you informed. This normally takes up to 2-3 weeks. Depending on the circumstances of the other interested parties your application may or may not progress. 

If it doesn’t progress you will be placed on a reserve list with a number, number 2 for example would indicate you are next in line if the current buyer pulls out. 

If you are successful, please contact your conveyancer. Their details can be found on the welcome pack email and any subsequent emails or letters. 

Help to Buy ISA’s

Unfortunately Help to Buy ISA’s are no longer available.  However, if you already have a Help to Buy ISA you can continue to benefit from it until 30th November 2029. 

The maximum amount you can pay into your ISA each month is £200 which you will earn interest on. In addition to this the government will also contribute 25% up to a maximum of £3000. This means if you have saved £10,000 you will receive an extra £2,500 from the government. This a grant and will not need to be paid back. 

The maximum you can save in a Help to Buy ISA is £12,000. A Help to Buy ISA can be used to purchase any type of property as long as it is the first property you have purchased. 

If you have a Help to Buy ISA please inform your conveyancer. They will help you complete the necessary paperwork and access the government contribution. 

Help to Buy Loans 

A Help to Buy Loan can only be used when buying a new build. The government will offer you a 20% loan of the property value which is payable upon selling the property. The idea is to reduce the deposit required when buying your first home.  

You will need to apply for this loan via your local Help to Buy agent. This is done online.  Please click the reverent link based on your location:

From there you will be able to apply for a Help to Buy Loan. If approved, you will receive an email within 4-7 days. Upon making an offer on a new build property you will need to revisit your account or portal and resume your current application.  

The application consists of 7 stages. This including information about yourself, which was completed when making the application. You will however need to add any additional applicants if you are no longer buying on your own.

Work your way through the stages and seek advice from your conveyancer. It’s important to remember our conveyancers are property law experts. Our conveyancing service is part of an overall commitment to property law therefore you will receive the best possible advice. 

Are you buying as a freeholder or a leaseholder?

A freehold is when you purchase the entire house and land your house is built on. You are responsible for the repair and maintenance of the entire house and the land. You are typically a freeholder if you purchase a house or bungalow. 

A Leasehold is when you purchase space. You have the right to occupy the space for what is normally between 99 to 120 years. This duration is outlined in your lease pack, if you require a lease extension your conveyancer will be able to help. You are responsible for the repair and maintenance of the space, including internal walls, ceilings and floors. You are typically a leaseholder if you are purchasing an apartment or a Shared Ownership. 



All our conveyancers are fully trained and supported by property solicitors. Our focus is on client care and jargon-free law. This is measured by our Feefo reviews. We use tags to allow us to review the performance of individual conveyancers, ensuring you receive the best possible service.

Who will do my work?

Your matter will be undertaken by those listed in our staff slider. This is located left or at the bottom of the page.

The Overall Conveyancing Process

When buying a house especially for the first time it’s natural to feel unsure and concerned about the process, however Attwells are here to help. Below we have outlined the conveyancing process, all the stages required to buy your first home. 

  • Accepting the quote: Simply click the accept button within your email or agree the fee over the phone.
  • Paying money onto your account: This effectively allows us to create a matter for you.
  • Welcome pack: We will ask you to complete a few forms which will help us progress your conveyancing. This can be done digitally – so please ask for a paper-free version. 
  • Instruct your mortgage valuation: This will also include a survey of the property.
  • Searches: We will undertake searches for you of the local utilities and authorities.

  • Draft Contracts: We will receive your draft contract and ownership information. 
  • Review contracts: Review and approves the contract. Plus, the ownership information and raise enquiries with the seller.
  • Searches are back: We will have received the results of all searches of the statutory authorities.
  • Send reports: We will send reports on the property, contract and mortgage and obtain confirmation of how you will own the property.
  • Send you documents to sign: We will also require your 10% deposit.
  • The moving date is agreed: All documents and the deposit are received from you. The contract is now exchanged, and purchase is now binding.
  • Statement: You will receive a statement as to money required to complete, this will be requested from your mortgage provider.
  • Completed: Move in and receive the keys. 

Timescale for Selling:

Week 1: Instruct Attwells, pay money on account and complete the property information forms.

Week 2: Attwells issues the contract and ownership information to the buyer’s solicitors.

Week 3 to 4: Attwells agrees the contract and will help you satisfy all enquiries from the buyer’s solicitors.

Week 5: Moving date agreed and contracts exchanged - This makes the sale binding.

Week 5 to 6: You now have a guaranteed moving date. You can make arrangements and start packing. You will need to sign completion documents with Attwells. You will receive a statement showing the amount you will receive on completion.

Week 7: Complete. Move out and handover keys, any mortgage is redeemed and you should renew or make a will.

Timescale for Buying:

Week 1: Instruct Attwells, pay money on account and provide evidence of your cash funds. You should instruct your mortgage valuation and survey.

Week 2: Attwells will undertake searches of the local utilities and authorities. Attwells will receive a draft contract and ownership information from the buyer’s solicitors.

Week 3 to 4: Attwells reviews and approves the contract. We will also review the ownership information and raise enquiries with the seller and receive satisfactory replies. Attwells receives results of all searches of the statutory authorities.

Week 5: Attwells send reports on the property, contract and mortgage and obtain confirmation of how you will own the property. Attwells will send you documents to sign and require a 10% deposit to be paid.

Week 6: The moving date is agreed. All documents and the deposit are received from you. The contract is now exchanged – the purchase is now binding.

Week 7: You now have a guaranteed moving date. You can make arrangements and start packing. You will need to sign completion documents. You will receive from Attwells a statement as to money required to complete. This must be transferred in good time for completion.

Week 8 plus: Completed. Move in and receive the keys. Congratulations on your new home. Don’t forget to renew or make a will as you have an asset to protect.

Please note: Attwells Solicitors have produced this timescale as a guide only. Your transaction may take longer depending on your circumstances. For more information, please contact your conveyancer.