Experienced solicitor essential to guide you through the first time buyer experience - Mike Fitzgerald

Being a first time buyer is an incredibly exciting time and, while it really is a once in a lifetime experience, it can also be overwhelming.

If you’re lucky you might have experienced family members or friends who can help to support your decision making, however, every purchase is different and having an experienced solicitor to guide you through this new experience is incredibly valuable.

First, look at your finances. Be realistic about how much you can put down as a deposit, bearing in mind applicable taxes and fees like Land and Building Transactions Tax where a First Time Buyer discount will apply.

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Although mortgage interest rates are rising, the cost to borrow is still historically very cheap and there are attractive deals available. Everyone’s circumstances are different so working out whether a fixed or variable rate mortgage deal is best for you needs careful thought and you should seek advice from your financial adviser or solicitor.

Mike Fitzgerald is chairman at Coulters, a leading independently-owned estate agency and solicitors across Edinburgh and the Lothians.
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Once you know your finances are in good shape, it’s time to find your property – most purchasers will source properties online and many now come with high quality brochures and videos. You can also download a property’s Home Report which provides technical information and a valuation for your review.

The Home Report includes an Energy Performance Certificate which assesses the energy efficiency for the property and often makes suggestions and provides estimated costs for improvements. With fuel bills soaring this is becoming more and more relevant as a property with a higher efficiency rating should bring with it lower fuel bills compared to comparable, less efficient properties.

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Once you have identified properties which you’re interested in we always recommend viewing these in person so that you get a proper feel for the home, the location and local amenities. It also gives you a chance to ask questions about the property, the neighbours and what’s nearby.

If you have seen a property that you like you’ll need to move quickly – good properties always attract interest and in a competitive market can go under offer quickly. Your solicitor can note your interest with the seller’s agent which allows your solicitor to gauge what level of interest there is from other people. More interest tends to invite competition and higher offers and an experienced solicitor will be able to advise on the price you wish to offer to secure the property.

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Buying a home can often bring uncertainty and some emotional ups and downs. New build properties can sometimes be delayed in completion while pre-owned properties often have a seller who is moving on and selling their property is dependent on the purchase of their new home. In recent years we have seen more deals fall through as “chains” have been created where various sales and purchases are all connected and if one falls though, so do all the others – this is an unwelcome development but your solicitor will be used to it and able to guide you through what can be a complicated process. Rely on them – it’s what they do every day.

Buying your first home is definitely a “life moment” so enjoy it. Putting the key in your front door for the first time is brilliant, getting the place sorted just as you want it and having a space to call your own is hard to beat. Getting through the legal process to get there will have its occasional challenges and having an experienced solicitor to guide you there is essential - get them involved as soon as you think you want to buy as they’ll point you in the right direction and help you on the journey to owning your first property.

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Mike Fitzgerald is chairman at Coulters, a leading independently-owned estate agency and solicitors across Edinburgh and the Lothians.

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