First Time Buyers Guide

Buying your first home can be daunting. We set out the process you can expect below in our first time buyers guide and take a look at how long the conveyancing is likely to take.

At Lockings Solicitors, we are experienced conveyancing solicitors who have represented first time buyers in East Yorkshire for many years. We always deal with transactions proactively to avoid delays wherever possible and we have the expertise to deal promptly with any issues that may arise.

We are known for the high level of service that we provide. We will make sure you are updated as to the progress of your purchase and we are always happy to talk through any concerns or answer queries.

We offer a FREE initial chat so that you can ask us any questions you may have. Call us on 01482 300 200, email us at or fill in our Free Online Enquiry and we will call you back promptly. We have offices in Beverley, Hull and York and we deal with conveyancing in East Yorkshire and beyond.

We are on the panels of approved solicitors of all major mortgage lenders and hold the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) accreditation in recognition of our high levels of legal competence, risk management and client service.

First time buyers guide to the conveyancing process

There are three main stages to buying a property, as follows:

  • Preliminary work that you can do before you find somewhere to buy
  • Pre-exchange work, done once you have had an offer accepted
  • Exchange of contracts and completion

Preliminary work

One of our top tips for first time buyers is to make sure you carry out some preliminary work before you find a property to buy.

Arranging your finances

You will usually need to save for a deposit to buy your first home. Alternatively, you may be able to benefit from one of the following options:

  • Help to Buy ISA
  • Help to Build
  • Lifetime ISA
  • First Homes Scheme
  • Family gift or loan

The most common way to step onto the property ladder is to save a deposit of at least 5%. If you are able to save more, say 10-15%, then you will generally have access to mortgage deals with lower rates of interest.

You should apply to your chosen mortgage lender for a mortgage in principle at this stage. The lender will take details of your income and expenditure and let you know how much you can borrow from them.

If you are not sure what sort of mortgage would be best or how much you can comfortably afford to borrow, a mortgage broker will be able to advise you and find you the right deal for your situation.

You should also check your credit score at this stage. This will give you the opportunity to correct any mistakes in your credit report and, if necessary, take steps to improve your score. Having a strong credit score will help you access the best available mortgage offers.

Instructing a solicitor

You can also approach a solicitor and ask them to represent you in the legal work, or conveyancing. If you would like us to represent you, we will let you have some forms to fill in so that we can carry out the first steps, including opening a file and verifying your identity.

We have a secure easy-to-use online portal that many of our clients prefer. This means that you can deal with the paperwork at a time to suit you and return it to us instantly at the click of a mouse. We will also be able to let you have a clear costs estimate to help you budget for your purchase.

Having a mortgage offer in principle and a solicitor ready to start work at an early stage can be an advantage in persuading a seller to accept your offer. If they are keen to go ahead quickly, then they may favour a buyer who can show that they have already carried out some work.

Finding a property to buy

Once you have worked out how much you can afford to spend, you can start looking for a property. It is important to research the areas you would like to live in and familiarise yourself with the sort of property available and the prices being asked. Features such as transport links, schools, local services and developments can affect prices and you will need to decide what is important to you and what you are prepared to pay for.

Pre-exchange work

Searches and enquiries

Once you have found the right property and had your offer accepted, you can give our details to the estate agent, who will pass them on to the seller’s solicitor. We will then receive all of the initial papers that we need to start investigating the property. We will ask the seller’s solicitor a number of questions and also apply for searches.

Mortgage application

You should also send off your mortgage application at this point. The lender will process this and once it has been approved, we will receive your mortgage offer.


It is always advisable to have a survey carried out to check that the property is in good condition and to provide advance warning of any maintenance or repairs that will be needed.

Paying the deposit

Once we have satisfactory replies to enquiries, the search results and your mortgage offer, we will be ready to exchange contracts. A deposit is paid to the seller’s solicitor on exchange, so we will need cleared funds from you in advance of exchange. We will also discuss with you the proposed completion date.

Exchange of contracts and completion

Once everyone in the chain is ready to proceed, we will exchange contracts. This is when the purchase becomes legally binding. The date for completion is set and we will pay your deposit to the seller’s solicitor.

We will then order your mortgage advance for completion and carry out the final pre-completion checks. You will have a completion statement from us showing the amount we will need in cleared funds.

On the day of completion, we will send the rest of the purchase money to the seller’s solicitor and the estate agent will then be authorised to let you have the keys to your first home.

Following completion, your ownership of the property will be registered with the Land Registry along with your mortgage.

How long does first time buyer conveyancing take?

We are often asked how long conveyancing takes. The length of the chain can affect this, as contracts cannot be exchanged until everyone is ready to go ahead. It is sometimes the case that a seller who wants to move quickly will choose to sell to a first time buyer, as first time buyers are often ready to move sooner and have no onward chain.

The length of time taken often depends on the workload of other organisations, for example, mortgage lenders, who may be slower if they are offering a popular deal. If you would like to give us a ring, we will be happy to give you an estimate of the approximate time transactions are taking at present.

Contact our East Yorkshire first time buyer solicitors

If you are thinking of buying your first home and you have any questions or you would like to discuss the process and how to get started, please feel free to contact us. We provide a high level of service and guidance to first time buyers and we would be happy to hear from you.

You can ring us for a FREE initial chat on 01482 300 200, email us at or fill in our Free Online Enquiry and we will call you back promptly. We have offices in Beverley, Hull and York and deal with conveyancing in East Yorkshire and beyond.

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