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A Basic Guide for First Time Buyers

Buying your first house is usually an exciting time. When you are purchasing, you will likely be looking forward to getting the keys to your new property as soon as possible. However, it could also be a daunting experience as the conveyancing procedure may not be something you are familiar with and you may have many questions.

When instructing a Solicitor to act on your purchase, you will be looking for someone who is efficient, approachable and will guide you through the process.

Below are some key points that we, Dunn & Baker Solicitors, think could be helpful for any first time buyers.

The Conveyancing Procedure

As a first time buyer you will most likely be unfamiliar with the conveyancing procedure.

In most instances, we will receive a contract pack from the sellers and carry out various searches (local, environmental and drainage) on the property. Following this, a review will take place of the information provided by the sellers and any searches. Afterwards, we will be able to raise any enquiries you or we have on the property. Once these have been sufficiently answered and we have your mortgage offer, we can exchange contracts. At this point the transaction becomes legally binding and can be very costly should you change your mind. We will agree a date for completion when the contracts are exchanged – it is on this date that the property will officially become yours and you can collect your keys.

For a more detailed overview of the procedure you can access our guide to conveyancing here:


Before instructing us you will hopefully have arranged your mortgage in principal, if you are using one.

Your lender will instruct us to act on their behalf as well which means we will need to report to your lender throughout the process.

We will also report to you on the terms of your mortgage offer and, at the appropriate time, we will arrange with your lender for the funds to be sent over to us.

Help to Buy Instant Savings Account (ISA)

Many first time buyers have a Help to Buy ISA, although the ability to open a new account ended on the 30 November 2019. If you opened your account before then you can still be eligible for the Government bonus. For every £200 saved into a Help to Buy ISA, you receive a Government bonus of £50, up to a maximum of £3,000 in total.

As a first time buyer, you need your solicitor to release the bonus for you. We do this by accessing an online portal and uploading your information, including evidence of your account closure. Once approved, the Government will supply the Help to Buy ISA bonus directly to us in order to contribute to your purchase, much like a mortgage company will forward your mortgage advance.

Stamp Duty Land Tax

Currently, first time buyers may be eligible for a relief on their Stamp Duty.

The general rule is that any purchase of a property over £250,000 may be liable for stamp duty.  There are different rates of SDLT when buying a residential property, the rate you pay will depend on whether you:

  • are a first-time buyer.
  • already own a property and are buying an additional property.
  • you’re not a UK resident.

It is important to be aware of the fees which can be found on the government website here. We can provide guidance on the implications of this on you.

Unfortunately you will not be classed as a first time buyer for stamp duty purposes if you or possibly your partner has ever owned property in the UK or abroad. This can include land which has been gifted to you or that you have inherited.


If you have any questions surrounding any of the above, please to do not hesitate to contact a member of our Residential Property Department on:

Exeter 01392 285000     Cullompton 01884 33818     Newton Abbot 01626 330127 

or email

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