Residential Property

First Time Buyer Guide

Buying your first home is an exciting experience, but it can also be seem very daunting. Here at Laker Legal Solicitors we will help guide you through the process and keep things as stress free as possible.

Our guide for first-time home buyers provides answers to the most common questions about buying your first property.

What steps are involved in buying my first home?

The process of buying a house begins once an offer is accepted. The following are the key steps of buying your first home.

  1. Secure a Mortgage
  2. Confirm your Legal Fees and other payments you will need to make – Our Conveyancing Calculator will help you with this.
  3. Carry out Searches and arrange a survey of your potential new house.
  4. Preparing or reviewing a contract for sale.
  5. Dealing with all necessary works and actions relating to your mortgage or other secured loan
  6. Raising or dealing with pre-contract enquiries and answering any other questions you may have about the property. .
  7. Dealing with the exchange of contracts and the completion formalities.
  8. Dealing with registration of title and any charges.
  9. Preparing and submitting the stamp duty and land tax return.

What Searches Do I Need To Do?

Property Searches can give us a lot of important information about a property.  A Search pack usually contains three Searches – the Local Search, the Drainage and Water Search and the Environmental Search.

The Local Search will reveal whether any planning permissions have been granted for the property. It is important to check these because sometimes, planning permissions have conditions attached to them.  The Search will also reveal whether works met Building Regulations.

If Local Land Charges are revealed, these need to be checked carefully as sometimes there can be financial obligations linked to the property.  There may also be other matters such as Tree Preservation Orders, which need to be checked carefully.

The Local Search will also reveal whether the road is adopted and whether any notices have been issued (such as a notice for compulsory purchase).

The Environmental Search will reveal whether the land is contaminated and other matters such as flooding, radon and ground stability.

The Drainage and Water Search will reveal whether the property is connected to foul and surface water drainage because if they are not, further enquiries need to be raised as to where foul water and surface water drainage is draining to.

It can also reveal whether there are any pipes or drainage or water assets within the boundary because if there are, further enquiries also need to be raised in relation to this.

We would always advise purchasers to carry out searches. If you are purchasing with a mortgage, these are required.  If you are not buying with a mortgage it is your decision as to whether these are obtain but we would always strongly advise that searches are obtained.

What are the costs involved buying your first home?

We will set our in writing to you the costs involved which will include our Fixed Fee Legal Costs, Disbursements (Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties) such as Land Registry Charges, Search Fees, ID Checks and Bank Fees. You should note that it is not always possible to anticipate all costs that may be required – additional costs can sometimes crop up such as indemnity insurance policies, but will we always keep you updated through out the process.

Will I pay Stamp Duty as a First time buyer?

Stamp duty Land Tax (‘SDLT’) is a tax that you have to pay when buying property in England.

In Wales land transaction tax is payable.

In the case of residential property in England, Stamp Duty is due to be paid on any property which is purchased at more than £250,000, although as a First Time Buyer this threshold increases to £425,000.

A First Time Buyer is someone who has not previously

  • bought a property
  • inherited a property
  • been the beneficiary of a trust that owns a property

this includes all freehold residential property, leases in excess of 21 years and any property which is mixed (residential and non-residential).

First-time buyers purchasing properties for between £425,000 and £625,000, don’t have to pay SDLT on the first £425,000. Stamp duty of 5% will be charged on the amount between that and £500,000.

First-timers buying homes for more than £625,000 will have to pay stamp duty at the standard rates.

There are also different rates payable by non-UK residents. An individual is treated as non-UK resident for SDLT purposes if they are not present in the UK for 183 days or more in the 12 months before the effective date of the purchase.

SDLT is calculated differently when the purchaser is a corporate entity or the property being acquired is non-residential or mixed use.

In Wales you must pay Land Transaction Tax if you buy a property or land over a certain price threshold.

The current LTT threshold is:

  • £180,000 for residential properties (if you do not own other property)
  • £225,000 for non-residential land and property

Currently, there is no first-time buyers’ relief available in Wales.

What if 2 people are buying a property and only 1 is a first time home owner?

If you are buying a home and your partner has already owned a property then you will not be entitled to stamp duty relief and the whole property price will be subjected to stamp duty.

For further information please visit the government website on stamp duty.

I have a First Time ISA/Lifetime ISA how does this work?

If you are using a First Time Buyer ISA or LISA then you will need a Conveyancer or Solicitor to access your funds to use towards the purchase of your first home.

Laker Legal Solicitors are registered with the Help to Buy Scheme and can therefore make the bonus application on your behalf. There will be an additional cost of £50 plus VAT (£10) for us be able to carry this out.

Your conveyancing solicitor will require that you complete a first-time buyer declaration form, which confirms that you are a first-time buyer and once we have a closing statement we will be able to use these funds for your purchase.

What the difference between joint tenants and tenants in common?

Many first time buyers choose to buy a property with a family member or friend, or with a partner they are not married to. If you are buying a property with someone it will be in your best interest to get a Deed of Trust to protect the money you invested in the property.

We will discuss with you during the process if you want to own the house as Joint tenants or tenants in common.

Joint Tenants.

  1. Joint Tenants

Joint ownership is a common way that between two and four people can own a property together. All co-owners are legally considered one owner, and have equal rights to the property.

2. Tenants in Common

Typically, tenants in common are two or more people who purchase a property together. However, they own separate shares in the property, which are not necessarily equal.

To avoid a dispute at a later date, when you buy a house or flat jointly you should clarify who owns what, since each person contributes a different amount. This is when a deed of Trust is essential. Laker Legal are able to draw up a Deed of Trust for you for a fixed fee.

If you have any further questions then please do not hesitate to contact us and we can discuss further.


What our clients say...

Best conveyancing experience ever. After two supposedly good law firms failed to even do the basics post instruction, for nearly 8 weeks, Jess at Laker Legal took on the difficult challenge of overseeing my purchase and completion in record time. Always proactive, very knowledgeable of her subject and extremely good communicator. I never had to chase the firm for anything. They always answered my calls efficiently. I can't praise them enough. What a wonderful experience.

I recommend Jess and would be very happy to use her again in the future.

Mrs A, Lancaster.

I can highly recommend John Hirst at Laker Legal solicitors in Lancaster. He was superb from start to finish dealing with a very complex child arrangements case for me. A really decent guy and an excellent family law solicitor who genuinely cares about his clients. John was fully up to speed with my case at all times and we got the outcome we wanted.

Mr B, Kendal

A big ‘thank you’ Richard from Steve and myself. Your time and attention you gave to both of us was remarkable. I’ve had dealings with many solicitors over the years, but have never received this level of service as you gave.

Mrs R – West Malling, Kent

Thank you for all your help and support over the last 12 months. You and the team at Laker Legal have been fantastic.
Sarah was lovely and really supportive yesterday.

Ms. W of Leyland

Thank you so much Richard, you have been so kind and patient with me when I have been at about the lowest point of my life after losing my wife, I can never thank you enough. I will also let my family know my wishes that Laker Legal Solicitors deal with my estate when that time comes.

Mr Y, Addington, Kent.

I am very pleased with Laker Legal firm, my Solicitor John Hirst, was extremely helpful throughout the drawing of my prenuptial agreement. A very professional and knowledgeable approach yet warm,and friendly enough to feel comfortable with in a situation that can be quite uncanny to discuss or uneasy as per say. Thankyou again!

Mrs V – London

I used the services of Jess and the team at Laker Legal as a first time buyer looking for properties to buy, near and around Bath.

Jess was fantastic, in her communication during the process as well as her knowledge and ability during the conveyancing process. She helped me make informed decisions and ultimately find and purchase a wonderful home near Bath. Jess is adept at spotting potential issues during a purchase that I believe others may not.

She clearly excels at her craft and you will be in safe hands should you use her services too.


Jessica Blacow from Laker Legal Solicitors Lancaster pulled out every stop truly amazing lady / firm nothing was to much trouble I honestly felt like they was my friends not just a firm that wanted your money but a solicitor firm that cared with compassion I will use Laker Legal Solicitors Lancaster for all my needs in the future.

Mr T, Lancaster

A devastating event brought us to call on Laker Legal. We were put in touch with Mr John Hirst, and from the first moment we spoke to him we knew everything was going to be ok. Mr John Hirst, was always on the end of the Phone or Email, Kept in touch with us 100% of the time, and the support we received took so much pain off our family. All i can say is Thank you so much for everything you did for us.

Ms P - Maidstone

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