A guide to buying your first home

Launching yourself onto the property market can feel a bit daunting. Millennials and Gen Zs aren’t supposed to take on more responsibility than deciding where to go for smashed avocado on toast at the weekend! But wouldn't it be great to have a place of your own? No more random house shares or forking out the best part of your income on rent. So, for all those home move newbies out there (in conveyancing parlance that’s first-time buyers), here's our top tips for house buying.

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£££ Deposits & mortgage deals: Work out (there are lots of free money calculators online, or use a mortgage advisor) how much you’ll need to cover your monthly mortgage repayments. Obviously the bigger your deposit the less you’ll need to borrow. If possible, don’t stretch yourself to the absolute limit. If all you can afford is your mortgage repayments that doesn’t leave much wriggle room for things like holidays or say, a new boiler.

£££ The extras: There are a number of additional costs when you buy a home, none can be avoided, but it’s certainly worth doing your research so you know what to expect right from the outset:

  • Conveyancing solicitor – choose a reputable, responsive conveyancer who is committed to helping you move quickly. You do not have to choose a solicitor recommended by the estate agent (they tend to be on commission) and ideally, to speed up the process, you want your conveyancer in place before making your offer.
  • Land registry fee – we include this as part of our conveyancing price breakdown, so you know exactly what you’re paying for. Not all solicitors do.
  • Stamp duty – first time buyers are currently exempt on homes under £300,000 but if you plan to go over this threshold there are plenty of calculators available online to help you work out your fees.
  • Homebuyers report or survey – check out our blog for more details.
  • Mortgage broker – most will earn commission for arranging the loan but they tend to charge a small fee as well. Make sure you find out what fees are payable beforehand and shop around for the right advisor for you.
  • Removal costs – don’t forget to budget for this one. And if timings don’t match up (e.g. you have to move out of your rental before you move into your new home) you might need to factor in temporary storage costs.
  • Buildings insurance – you’ll need this in place from the date of exchange (this is when the purchase becomes legally binding) which is typically a week or so before completion (the day you get the keys).

There are a few other niggly bits such as a mortgage fee (often tacked onto the mortgage so you probably won’t notice it), valuation survey fee (for the lender’s benefit, but you’ll usually pay for it), and electronic transfers (the cost incurred when solicitors transfer the monies on your behalf). And, if you’re buying a leasehold there will be some additional costs owed to the leaseholder.


Be prepared: The best advice we can give to first-time buyers is: be prepared. The housing market is competitive so having all your ducks in a row will give you an edge. This means:

  • Make sure your Mortgage in Principle is arranged before making an offer.
  • Make sure your conveyancing solicitor can get cracking as soon as your offer is accepted.
  • Make sure the estate agents know you’re a first-time buyer, this means there’s no chain on your side which is always a bonus for sellers.
  • Move quickly – once your offer is accepted, arrange your survey pronto.

How long will it take? Unfortunately, it’s a piece of string! The average offer to completion (moving in) time in the UK is 12 weeks. At Brevis we are determined to work quickly and efficiently to try and shorten the time it takes you to get your keys.

Conveyancing terms you don’t understand? Check out our jargon buster.

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