Buying your first property is a daunting prospect and it can often seem difficult to know where to start.
Thankfully there are lots of places you can turn to for help and by breaking the process down into simple stages, getting onto the property ladder can be a lot easier than it first appears.
Here’s our simple, step-by- step guide to buying your first home in Scotland.
Stage 1 – Financial Planning and Budgeting
First and foremost, you’ll need to sort out your finances. Most people know that you need to save for a deposit to secure a mortgage but there are a number of other items things you are likely to need money for including:
- Land & Buildings Transaction Tax (if the property you are buying is over £145,000)
- Solicitor’s fees and outlays
- Storage costs
- Removal fees or van hire
- Mortgage arrangement fee.
You can find out how much you will pay in Land & Buildings Transaction Tax here. Most solicitors will allow you to get a quote for buying a home online. Similarly, you’ll be able to get estimates for removal, storage and van hire online or by phoning a few local companies.
It’s also important to plan out a budget for furniture and decor, including an allowance for little unexpected things that can crop up once you move into a property. One of the benefits of living in rented accommodation is that when the boiler breaks down you can just get on the phone to your landlord or letting agent and have them pay to get it fixed. When you own the property, you have to pay for it yourself so it’s really important to plan ahead to make sure you don’t get caught out.
You’ll also need to make an allowance for buildings & contents insurance being part of your regular outgoings once you buy a new home as this is something most people don’t worry about while they’re renting. You may also want to think about income protection and critical illness cover to help ensure that you will be able to afford mortgage repayments even if you are unable to work for a period of time.
Finally, there are government schemes available which offer financial assistance to first-time buyers. Depending on your circumstances they may not be right for you, but they are well worth looking into as they can significantly reduce the amount that you need to save to secure a mortgage.
Step 2 – Get a Mortgage Agreement in Principle
When you note interest or submit an offer for a property, one of the first things that the selling solicitor will ask is how the buyer (you) intends to fund the purchase. If you are using a mortgage to buy your home, they will want to know that you have an agreement in principle.
While you can do this by going directly to a lender it’s a good idea to speak to a mortgage advisor. As well as scouring the market to help you find good deals on mortgages and insurance, they will be able to help you with budget planning and make sure that your formal mortgage application is processed quickly once you have an offer accepted.
Step 3 – Appoint a Solicitor
In Scotland you will want to have a solicitor in place to formally note interest or submit written offers on your behalf.
Buyers often end up appointing a solicitor at the last minute either because they didn’t realise that they would need one, or because they worry that the ‘meter’ will start running straight away and they will end up with a large legal bill.
The truth is, it’s never to early to speak to a solicitor when you’re buying and most solicitors won’t charge you anything to note interest or make offers on properties. You just pay a set, flat fee after you have an offer accepted.
By appointing a solicitor early on you’ll be in a position to act quickly when you see a property that you want to buy. A good solicitor will also be able to advise you on bidding strategies to help you get your new home for the best price, advise you on there areas where you’ll find properties that match your needs and answer any questions that you might have about the market or the buying process. So basically, the sooner you speak to a solicitor the better!
Step 4 – The House Hunt!
Once you’ve sorted out your finances and appointed a solicitor it’s time to get down to the fun part – finding your first home.
The major property websites allow you to sign up for email alerts which notifyng you as soon as properties matching your chosen criteria come onto the market. The best place to start is with ESPC as they advertise the overwhelming majority of properties for sale in Edinburgh and the Lothians. Because of their focus on Edinburgh and the Lothians they also let you do much more detailed local searches. It’s worth keeping an eye on Rightmove and Zoopla as well just to make sure you don’t miss any properties.
Although it’s easy to fall in love with a home early in your search, don’t be afraid to view as many properties as possible. You’ll get a better appreciation of what’s available within your budget which will help ensure you don’t overbid for your new home.
Once you’ve seen a home that you like you can get in touch with your solicitor to note interest for you. If possible it’s always a good idea to go back for a second viewing if you see a home you like, preferably at a different time of day to your first viewing. This will allow you to get a much better feel for the neighbourhood that you’re thinking of moving to.
Step 5 – Submitting an offer
Once you’ve found a home that you want to buy, speak to your solicitor about submitting an offer. A good solicitor will be able to advise you on how much to offer based on market conditions, your circumstances and the level of interest there has been in the property that you are looking at.
If you don’t get the first home that you make an offer on – and in this market it is unlikely – don’t become too downhearted. It’s always annoying to miss out on a home that you really like but there will be new properties coming up for sale every week and you don’t want to put yourself in a position where you bid more than you are comfortable with offering.
Step 6 – Your offer is accepted, time for the final steps
After you have an offer accepted, your work isn’t quite done. The first thing you’ll need to do is to get your formal mortgage application approved as quickly as possible. If you’ve decided to use a mortgage adviser they will do this for you, saving you time and ensuring the application is processed quickly.
Your solicitor will take care of the legal work for you, allowing you to relax and start making plans for your new home.
If you’re thinking of buying, get in touch today on 0131 667 0232 or email
firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our team will be delighted to help.