Advice For First Time Home Buyers – Five Frequently Asked Questions When Buying Your First Home
For many clients, the conveyancing process can be a whole new world of the unknown. But with the right advice, knowledge, guidance and support there’s no need for you to be left in the dark.
Here below are the 5 most frequently asked questions we are asked by our clients when buying their first home.
1. How long will the conveyancing process take?
There can be a lot of factors involved in a purchase. For example, the length of the chain, the other parties personal circumstances, how long it takes to get your mortgage offer, and soon. For this reason, we cannot give you a definitive answer. However, the average conveyancing process can take between 6 to 8 weeks for a freehold property, and 8 to 12 weeks for a leasehold property. Our lead conveyancing solicitor, Lorraine, our practice manager Gail, and the Team will keep you fully informed of progress.
2. What’s the difference between exchange of contracts and completion?
This is when the contract becomes legally binding on both buyer and seller. The buyer and seller sign identical copies of the contract and the two copies are literally swapped on exchange between the Solicitors. A completion date is the agreed date in which you physically move into your new home. This agreed date is specified in the contracts which are then exchanged. This process is normally a telephone call between Solicitors.
3. How much stamp duty do I need to pay?
Stamp duty land tax has been scrapped for first time home buyers on properties in England, Wales and Northern Ireland worth £300,000 or less.
For first time home buyers in the higher price range buying a first property worth up to £500,000, they will only pay stamp duty payable at 5% on the amount between the £300,000 to £500,000 limit.
As to how you qualify for first time buyers’ relief, you must have never owned or part owned another property. If you answer yes to any of the questions below you will not qualify for the relief.
• have you ever bought a property?
• have you ever inherited a property?
• are a beneficiary of a trust that owns a property?
If you are selling your main residence to purchase your new home, then you will pay the normal rates of stamp duty (SDLT). The rates for this are shown below under “standard rates”. The higher rates apply to most purchases of additional residential properties in England and Wales where, individual purchasers will own two or more residential properties and are not replacing their main residence. (If you sell your residential home within 3 years you could be eligible for a refund).
The higher rates are three percent higher than the current SDLT rates as set out in the chart below under “higher rates”.
Band SDLT – Standard rates SDLT – Higher rates
£0* – £125,000 0% 3%
£125,0001 – £250,000 2% 5%
£250,001 – £925,000 5% 8%
£925,001 – £1,500,000 10% 13%
£1,500,00+ 12% 15%
*Transactions under £40,000 do not require a tax return to be filed with HMRC and are not subject to the higher rates.
Married couples and civil partners are treated as one unit (unless they are legally separated, or separated in circumstances that are likely to become permanent). This means that property owned by either partner (or any minor children) will be relevant when determining if an additional property is being purchased or not. Therefore, an individual buying a property may be liable for the higher rates if his or her spouse or civil partner has an existing interest in a residential property.
The SDLT rules are complex, please get in touch with us if you need assistance.
How much stamp duty will I have to pay? Here is the government stamp duty calculator
4. When can I book a removal firm?
A removal firm can be booked once the contracts have been exchanged; these contracts specify a fixed date for the completion. If you book removal arrangements before contracts have been exchanged, the completion date may change and you may be charged a fee by the removal company.
5. When do I get the deeds to my property?
The “title deeds” of a property are now stored digitally with Land Registry. This means that if you come to sell or re-mortgage your property, there should be no issues as the title information must be obtained direct from Land Registry. Your property is usually registered within a few weeks of completion and the Completion of Registration will sent to you on completion of your purchase.
This is why we do what we do, here is a recent great review from a happy client!
“Where to start…!? Amanda, Lorraine, Gail and the team were fantastic! Our property sale and purchase needed to be turned around quickly due to an emigration at the top of the chain, and the team at Geoffrey Lurie worked tirelessly and overcame last minute complications to make sure the move went to plan. I can’t thank you all enough for your professionalism and support, and would definitely recommend your services. I don’t plan to be moving again for a long time, but if/when I do, I’ll be back. Take care and kind regards,”