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Insight | For Individuals

Practical advice for anyone buying their first home

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Getting on the property ladder can be daunting. It is one of the most expensive purchases you are ever likely to make. Everyone seems to have an opinion, using jargon you’re expected to understand.

At Heald Solicitors, we help first-time buyers avoid common pitfalls and wrong turns. We are always happy to answer your questions. We do so clearly and concisely. It is important that you understand what you are signing up to. We are here to help you.

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First-Time Buyer Schemes

The government has several schemes to encourage home ownership. We can help you use any of them. Schemes include the Help to Buy Equity Loan, where the government provides some of the mortgage funds, the Lifetime ISA, where the government provides a 25% boost to your savings, and the Shared Ownership Scheme, where you can buy part and pay rent on the remainder of the same property.


This is a loan secured against your property. If you don’t make the monthly payments, the lender may take over ownership of the property (known as repossession). Mortgages can be used with the First- Time Buyer Schemes mentioned above and the lender will set conditions before they loan the money to you. We can help ensure that these conditions are met in time for you to buy your home.


You will usually need to provide the deposit before your mortgage is available, as it has to be paid at exchange of contracts. A Seller will expect a deposit of 10% of the purchase price, although they might agree to accept less.


It is a good idea to instruct a specialist surveyor to carry out a structural survey of the property for you before exchange of contracts. While your lender might carry out a survey, this might not be as detailed as you need and because it is done for your lender, you might not be able to rely on this if something goes wrong.

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)

SDLT is a tax paid on property transactions. The amount payable is based on several criteria, including the property’s value. To encourage first-time buyers, no SDLT is charged on purchases under £300,000.

Service Charges and Ground Rent

Many properties have hidden charges. Ground rents are paid to the landlord of a lease (usually where you are buying a flat). They can vary from several hundred pounds a year to a nominal amount (a peppercorn). Houses and flats may also have to pay service charges to cover the maintenance of communal areas. The amount can vary substantially and change each year, depending on what work is required. We will carefully check the documents to advise you of any issues and to ensure you are fully informed of your financial obligations.

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Search Fees

Various searches need to be carried out when you buy a property. These ensure, for example, that the property has been built legally, that it is not in flood risk area and that it is connected to the mains drainage and water supply. We conduct the searches on your behalf and check the results for you. Currently, the cost for a complete set of searches is around £300.

If you are looking for a high-quality conveyancing service that will give you peace of mind, our residential conveyancing team would be delighted to help you.


Contact Us Let's have a chat


Meet our Residential Conveyancing Legal Team

If you are thinking about buying or selling a property or you have another residential property issue you would like to discuss, either in Milton Keynes or elsewhere, please contact us.
Give us a call 01908 662277

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