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Buying your first home during COVID-19

Buying your first home is an exciting experience and is probably one of the biggest decisions you will make.  Whenever you decide to take the plunge, you will want to get it right, and many first-time buyers are asking “Can I still go ahead during COVID-19 measures?”  Well, the answer is yes!

Last updated on January 12th, 2021 at 10:54 am

buying your first home

Of course, certain issues may need more serious consideration, such as house prices – will they go up, will they go down? Even the experts don’t appear to be able to agree on this.  Some are still forecasting that house prices will fall significantly.  However, figures produced by the ONS show that house prices increased on average in the UK by 5.4% in the year to October 2020.  In Yorkshire and the Humber and East Midlands areas, the increase was 6.6%. The next ONS figures are due at the end of January 2021 when we will see if the increase has continued or is slowing down.

The housing market certainly remains buoyant and the number of enquiries and transations in South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire remains high.  Plenty of people are still confident enough to put their property on the market, and housebuilders are continuing with  construction.

Caroline Murray, partner and head of Graysons’ property team says:

“With interest rates so low at present, now could be an excellent time to get your feet on the property ladder – and mortgage payments can actually work out less than rent.  You can also still use the assistance available from the government using the Help to Buy schemes.”

If you are buying a new build, as a first-time buyer you can use the Help to Buy Equity Loan Scheme until the end of March 2023 (the scheme finishes at the end of March 2021 for existing homeowners, although the government is in talks with The Home Builders Federation regarding extending the scheme). This scheme will allow you to borrow 20% of the cost of a new build home (40% in London), as long as you have at least a 5% deposit yourself, and then you can apply for a 75% mortgage.  At present, the cap on the value of the house you can buy using this scheme is £600,000, but from April 2021, regional caps will be imposed – and for Yorkshire and the Humber, that is currently set at £228,100 and in the East Midlands it is set at £261,900.

You can still use your Help to Buy ISA.  Although these have not been available to new savers since November 2019, if you are an existing saver, you can still claim your 25% bonus on the purchase of your first home as long as it is by 1st December 2030.  If you have a Lifetime ISA (LISA), which attracts a 25% bonus each year on savings in that year of up to £4,000, you can use it, along with your partner’s LISA (they will need to be a first-time buyer too or will have to pay a 20% withdrawal charge) to buy your first home up to the value of £450,000.  You will need to use a conveyancer or a solicitor when using a LISA to buy your home.

Graysons’ friendly and knowledgeable property lawyers have been helping people to buy their first homes for many years. We take care of identity checks; deal with searches; raise pre-contract enquiries; deal with mortgage lenders; handle the exchange of contracts and completion and register the property on your behalf.  Don’t forget that first-time buyers don’t pay stamp duty land tax on their first home valued at up to £300,000, and then only pay 5% on anything between £300,000 and £500,000. During the stamp duty holiday, no stamp duty is paid on properties valued up to £500,000 as long as completion takes place before 31st March 2021 – unless this is extended.

buying your first home

Caroline Murray

So, once our experts have crossed the i’s and dotted the t’s, you can concentrate on exciting things, like furnishings – and enjoying your new home.

Get a competitive quote free of charge and get more first-time buyer information on our website.  Or contact our team to make an appointment, which will be held safely and remotely by telephone, email or video call at present. Further information can be found on our website.

Author: Caroline Murray, partner and head of Graysons’ property team.

You have landed on this page as Watson Esam has merged with Graysons

You can read more about the merger here. Graysons will be pleased to help with your enquiry. Please visit our web pages or contact us directly on 0114 358 9009


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