Gary Rycroft column: Top tips for first-time buyers

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Here are Legal Seagull Gary Rycroft’s top five tips for first-time buyers.

1 If you are buying a property with someone other than your spouse or civil partner always think carefully and honestly about your respective financial contributions. If you are contributing unequally towards the deposit or if you are going to pay unequal amounts towards improvement works to the property or the monthly mortgage repayments, it would be sensible for this to be recorded by way of a “declaration of trust”. A “declaration of trust” may be incorporated into the transfer deed when the property is bought in your joint names or, alternatively, you could ask your solicitor for a bespoke “Deed of Declaration of Trust” to be prepared setting out the detail of the financial arrangements between you and also what you would like to happen in the event of one of you wanting to move out of the property.

2 Once you have completed your house purchase you will own a valuable asset so always think about making a will to direct what should happen to that asset and indeed the remainder of your estate in the event of your death.

3 If you are buying a house jointly with someone else with the aid of a mortgage then always remember that you personally will be “jointly and severally” liable for the mortgage debt. This means that even though there may be more than one borrower, you as an individual are responsible for the whole of the debt. .

4 Always consider taking out life insurance in order to cover repayment of the mortgage debt in the event of your death so as to protect the position of any joint owners and other dependants.

5 Always have a survey carried out so that you 
know what you are 
getting into before you commit to purchasing. A detailed “Home Buyer’s Survey” will help you decide whether or not you really want to buy the property or alternatively may give you cause to re-negotiate the purchase price or at the very least prioritise the work that needs to be done when you move in.