Your step-by-step guide to buying your first home
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Your step-by-step guide to buying your first home

23rd Aug, 2019

Buying a new house isn’t as daunting as you think…

It’s one of the biggest things to do in life – and also one of the scariest. But buying your first house can be stress-free and straightforward.

At Kirkwood Homes, we have been building and selling high-quality properties for more than 30 years, so we know how the process works. With all that experience, and a bit of help from this guide, we’ll help ease you on to the property ladder.

Save as much as you can

Given it’s such a big investment, one thing to look at are Scottish Government schemes, including a supply shared equity scheme which offers low-cost home ownership to help first time buyers get on to the market. Help To Buy is also popular with first time buyers as you only need a 5% deposit and The Scottish Government will lend you 15% interest-free. There is also the Government’s two Low-cost Initiative for First Time Buyers (LIFT) schemes. The first is the Open Market Shared Equity (OMSE) scheme, which helps people buy a home within certain price thresholds. The second is the New Supply Shared Equity scheme (NSSE) which helps people buy a new-build home from a council or housing association. Obviously that will not be applicable if you are buying a Kirkwood Home.

The first thing to do is save money for your deposit. It’s something a lot of us find difficult, but by making simple changes to the way we live our lives, it can be less painful than you think. Making little tweaks like limiting the amount of takeaways or changing your shopping habits will go some way to saving you some cash. Forget that expensive coffee on the way to work and take your own, or as difficult as it may be, curtail the amount you spend on clothes. Even having your pals round for a night in instead of a night out will have an impact – and once you’re in a Kirkwood Home you’ll always want to have your friends round to show off your new pad!

Keeping an eye on the pennies is vital, as there is a lot to consider before investing in bricks and mortar. For example, there are solicitor’s and valuation fees, moving costs and Land Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT), and that’s before you’ve even been to your favourite flat-pack retailer to furnish the place. But don’t worry, with a lot of planning and conscientious counting, you’ll be fine.

Speak to a mortgage advisor

These money masters are able to tell you exactly what sort of home you will be able to afford, and how quickly you can get it. Prepare before you go, so think about your credit rating and how much you are wiling to spend on your mortgage each month. You’ll need to provide evidence of your outgoing expenses and be able to prove your income. This is particularly relevant if you’re self-employed.

Getting an agreement in principle (that’s confirmation of how much the lender will give you) is the key. Once you know what your budget is, the excitement of going to view houses can begin!

We would recommend one of three mortgage advisors across the north-east of Scotland – and they even work evenings and weekends! The three we would recommend are Gail Reid Mortgage Services in Inverurie; McLean Financial Services (Mortgage & Protection) in Aberdeen and Carrington Mortgage UK in Stonehaven.

We’re going on a house-hunt!

If you’re a couple buying your first home, it’s important to agree the “must-haves” and “would like to haves”. For example, a spare room to house a collection of football shirts might be a must-have for one of you, but will it make or break a potential deal? Probably not. Being on the same page, or at least in the same chapter, about what you both want in your new home is crucial. Remember, you’re investing a lot of money, so it’s vital you both agree on what your home has to have.

Location might be the key for you, so do your research. What is the community like? Is there a selection of coffee shops nearby or long walks to go on? If you’ve little ones to think of, what are the schools like? What would the commute to work be like? Regardless of the answers to these questions, Kirkwood Homes has a range of properties across the north and north-east of Scotland, from Tayside, through Grampian and into the Highlands. Every house has the distinct Kirkwood finish, and is completed to the highest quality.

We have a range of properties covering all budgets, with prices starting at less than £200,000, so there are plenty of options to suit all requirements. No one knows our homes more than our team of Sales Advisors, who are based across our vast number of sites. These specialists will be able to help guide you through the process from beginning to end.

Call in the experts

You’ll already have a rough idea of how much money you have (metaphorically at least) to negotiate with following your chats with a mortgage advisor. So once you’ve found your dream Kirkwood Home it’s time to get it bought. That’s why you need to get a solicitor involved.

It’s important to research which solicitor to choose. Most have an hourly rate or set pricing guide, so make sure you review the costs before you commit, and ideally get a fixed price arrangement. That means you won’t have to worry if any unexpected costs pop up along the journey. Speak to friends and family or search online to help you determine who to choose.

Having made sure everything is tickety-boo, your solicitor will be able to complete the conveyancing process, which is the legal transfer of property to a new owner – you! Once your solicitor has received the missive offer from the seller’s solicitor, they will arrange an appointment with you to go through the terms and conditions contained within the document and make sure you have your finances in place. The missives confirm details you will know from your reservation documentation and meetings that you have had with your Sales Advisor such as purchase details, entry window and items included within the purchase. Once everyone is happy and all questions have been clarified, your solicitor will confirm a concluded missive.

There’s no going back now – you are now legally contracted to purchase the property. The title deeds will be shared with your solicitor and they will also check the land registry for anything untoward. The next step is to buy a bottle of champagne and put it in the fridge (of your current residence, you haven’t got the keys just yet).

Pack up your life and begin a new one

When the deal has gone through and the entry date is confirmed, it’s time to make sure you have everything you need. Create a to-do list of everything that needs done before moving, things like pack up clothes and pictures – don’t forget the little things, so pop bubble wrap on the list. More importantly, make sure you have the relevant insurance primed to begin from your move-in date, and make sure life’s luxuries like your TV and broadband packages are good to go. There’s no point splashing out on a new home if you can’t relax on your new couch on the first night watching your favourite programme while bragging about it on social media! When all that’s done, it’s a waiting game until the big day arrives.

Hey homeowner!

It will feel like the process will never end, but when moving day finally arrives, the funds and mortgage amount will be transferred into your solicitor’s account, a process known as “settlement”. Today, your solicitor will ensure that all money is paid to where it needs to go, i.e. the seller. Often for each transaction there is a fee that the solicitor sets. Check these costs with them so you know what you need to pay, and when. On the day you get your keys, your solicitor’s fees should also be paid. Your solicitor will let the Land Registers know that you are the new owner and pay the LBTT.

While the solicitor takes care of all the formal stuff, all you will want to do is get all your belongings to your new house. The cheapest way to move may be to hire a van or ask your family or friends to help, but for peace of mind, you can hire a removal firm. That will likely cost £300-£600, so remember to budget for that at the outset.

The whole process may take a few months and sound awfully formal (that’s just the way of it, unfortunately), there is one thing you need to make sure you do – enjoy yourself! This is a landmark moment, but as tempting as it is, it’s important not to get too stressed out. Buying your fist home is a big deal, so treat it like that – have that takeaway you’ve been dreaming of since you started saving and crack open the bottle of champagne you put in the fridge a few weeks back!

So there you go, buying a new house is a lot more straightforward than you may have thought. Start your home ownership journey with Kirkwood Homes. With developments across Scotland arrange a visit to a showhome with a sales advisor and make your dreams come true.

Need help with some of the terms? Have a look at our glossary!

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Your step-by-step guide to buying your first home