How to look after yourself as a First Time Buyer

16th Aug 2017

We have experienced a steady rise in property prices across East Anglia during the last few years, this has meant that together with the imposition of stricter mortgage lending criteria, getting on the property market is far more of a challenge than ever before. Faced with these obstacles, it is all the more important that once you have made that big first step onto the property ladder, the necessary safeguards are securely in place to protect both you and your investment from future troubles.

We have found that one of the more difficult aspects of buying a property for the first time is saving up enough money in the first place to put down as a deposit – this can become even more problematic when having to balance the cost of bills, groceries and high rental costs. It has become more noticeable over the last few years that parents and grandparents are helping their children with a contribution towards the deposit, providing a lump sum either as a gift or as an amount to be paid back at a later date.

It really doesn’t matter how the money is handed over, what is important is that the intention of the all parties concerned is expressly agreed, so that should any disputes arise in the future they are covered clearly and explicitly. If money for the deposit is being leant on the understanding that it is going to be paid back, it is useful that a payment schedule is set out and agreed, outlining when payments should be made and at what rate.

Another common area that we have found to have caused issues in the past, is when a client is buying a house with a friend or partner. In this instance, it is vital that the different ways in which a property can be legally owned and the varying implications of that ownership are fully and clearly understood. Will it be owned as joint tenants or as tenants in common? If it is joint tenancy, then both parties own the property fully and should one of you die, the property will pass wholly to the surviving tenant. Alternatively if it is held as tenants in common then each party owns a specified share of the legal estate, and upon death, the deceased’s share will pass to the beneficiary named in their will.

Each method of property ownership has its benefits and it depends on the circumstances of the cohabiting couple as to which is best for them, but it is crucial that a decision is made before purchasing. We would recommend that, if friends are jointly buying the property, then a tenancy in common be agreed to hold the legal estate. If this is the case, it is also a good idea if a cohabitation agreement is established, a declaration of trust will agree the proportions in which you own a property and the rights and responsibilities you have in relation to it.

A Declaration of Trust will help to avoid problems in the future, if one of the parties dies, there is a dispute, or when the property is sold. Parents need to think and take advice on if they want to safeguard the hard earned funds they are using towards the deposit, should the buyers go their own ways and the property have to be sold.

That first purchase is a really exciting experience and we find our clients really can’t wait to get the legal work completed and move into their new home. Taking the time now to take advice from an experienced lawyer can save you time, money and anguish in the future.

If you need more information about how you can ensure your property investment is properly protected, you can talk to our knowledgeable and highly trained conveyancing specialists in Norwich and Attleborough – the teams have a wealth of experience and provide clear, easy to understand legal advice.

You can contact Marc Greig in our Attleborough office at or 01953 458160 or Stephen Palmer in Norwich at or 01603 675635.