First Time Buyers, Listen Up!

Buying your first home is one of the most exciting things you can ever do. But it can also be a very confusing, expensive and sometimes terrifying experience. There’s a lot of jargon to deal with, and the whole process can seem a lot more complex than it needs to be. There can even be points where you might wonder if it’s all really worth it. Luckily, we have a few top tips to help keep the excitement flowing and the terror at bay while you navigate buying your first home.

Why is Buying Property so Complicated?

This probably isn’t the first blog you’ve read about buying a property, so you’ve probably already figured out that it can get complicated. Buying a property isn’t the same as going to the supermarket and buying a bag of potatoes, or even going to a car dealership for that car you’ve always dreamt of – but why not?

Firstly, property law is a big, technical area where lots of things can go wrong. There can be issues with anything from the property title, service charges, easements and other liabilities that, without the proper due diligence and documentation, could impact your ability to buy and enjoy the property. That’s why you and your solicitor need to work together to make the process of buying trouble-free, and ensure your home will still be a sellable asset if you ever want to move on.

Then there’s the mortgage company, who have their own set of rules, with each company’s rules being slightly different. They will all want to know that the property is worth what they’re lending (and a bit more) before they’ll lend you a penny.

Then there’s the property itself. In the UK many buyers don’t know if the property they’re buying is 10 years old, 30, 50 or even 100 (like 29% of properties in Wales). Different ages of property all have different problems, which is where a surveyor can help you understand and navigate the issues.

Finally, there are the estate agents, who manage the chain of sales and could be looking after anywhere from 2 to 10 or more sales that are all connected. Each of these involves their own solicitors, surveyors, mortgage advisors and estate agents.

Confused yet? We don’t blame you.

Can I Make it Easier?

Sadly, you can’t prevent a lot of the issues that make buying a property complicated. But you can arm yourself with knowledge and support to make it easier. You need the best advisers around you, and you need every one of them to be working as a team, rather than individually. Choosing this team can be a little tricky, especially as you’ve never done it before, but once you have a group of professionals you can rely on, the whole process will go much smoother.

The other significant impact you can have is making sure everyone has all the information they need when they need it – or before. Delays in the process can make everything more complicated, so collecting and delivering information needs to be a priority if you want an easy property transaction. If you’re a busy person, you might need to build time into your diary to do this, especially as some of your advisers will need a LOT of information from you. Your role here is to provide information and instructions.

Building Your Advisory Team

To build up your team of advisers, you’ll want to choose people who can communicate well with one another, and who keep you updated at every stage along the way. Your team should include:

An estate agent
A mortgage broker
A solicitor
A conveyancer

Word of mouth referrals are a great way to find the best advisers, so talk to the people you know and trust who have bought a property recently about who they used, why they used them, and if they would recommend them. Google and Trustpilot are your friends here as well, with reviews providing a great resource for you. If you get on really well with your mortgage adviser or solicitor, you can ask them for recommendations too. Most professionals are fairly well networked and so will be able to recommend the right adviser for each person.

We would advise you to be careful with the people your estate agent recommends though. Often estate agents will advise you to use ‘their’ solicitor, surveyor and mortgage advisor.And there might be nothing wrong with the people they’re recommending – but often the estate agent will be getting referral fees, or are passing you to the person who will do the quickest job, rather than the best.

Don’t so Many Advisers Get Expensive?

Yes, but also no. In terms of cash spent, good advisors won’t be the lowest priced, but paying for the right people will pay dividends down the line and save you a lot of money. For example, a local solicitor is going to be able to meet you face to face, put your mind at ease and hold together a purchase, while an online solicitor service will just see you as a number. An online mortgage adviser might give you the deal that’s easiest and best for them, rather than making sure you’re getting the best deal for you considering your future plans and circumstances. Maybe you want to go with the cheapest surveyor, but you aren’t sure if they have the experience and knowledge to catch little things that can come up. Wouldn’t you prefer an experienced, fully qualified surveyor you can speak to on the phone, who will help you renegotiate the asking price, and often save you much more than the cost of the report? At Harrison Clarke, we will continue to assist you with your home survey until you are satisfied that you are able to make a purchase decision and won’t abandon you as soon as the survey goes out the door.

Of course, that’s all well and good on paper, but in practice, it can all get very complicated. Especially if you aren’t sure which advisors to look for when trying to build your housebuying dream team. This is where we can help. Our team of surveyors have extensive networks of contacts for all areas of home buying, and we know a small army of mortgage advisors and solicitors from all walks of life. We never take referral fees either – our business relies on working with fantastic external advisers and offering great service and expertise ourselves. So if you’re feeling a little lost and don’t know where to start, we would be happy to help. Just get in touch by phone on 023 8155 0051, or email us at info@harrisonclarke.coto make your first house purchase exciting, not terrifying.

We also have a range of videos talking through various aspects of the building surveying. You can access them via our website or our YouTube channel

At the time of writing, we have a total of 95 reviews across Trustpilot and Google. We are proud to say that they are all 5 star ratings across the board.

Discover something you would like to know more about?

Tim Clarke, Director at Harrison Clarke chartered surveyors.

About the author

Tim Clarke,


Tim set up Harrison Clarke Chartered Surveyors in July 2017 following a series of public and private sector surveying roles, having previously worked for the University of Cambridge, Rund Partnership, Goadsby, and CBRE. 

Tim has degrees in building surveying, construction project management, and business administration.