Common Mistakes First-Time Buyers Make And How To Avoid Them

Published: 08/12/2023

There is a reason why moving house is regarded as one of the most stressful things we will ever do in our lives. The anxiety is typically magnified when you’re a first-time buyer, so it’s understandable that some will make mistakes whilst buying their first property.

Our experienced conveyancing team and manager, Kerry Walker, is on hand to point out some of the most common house buying slip ups and to try and help first-time buyers avoid making costly mistakes.

Avoiding property survey reports

There is a big misconception when it comes to property surveys. Buyers repeatedly confuse the lender’s value with a survey. A lenders valuation is not a survey, and often the lender doesn’t even enter the property to produce its valuation. The only reason a lender carries out a valuation is to ensure that they are not lending too much money out to the homebuyer. This means that various problems with the property itself could actually go unnoticed and leave buyers financially exposed further down the line.

Surveys aren’t cheap, and while buyers will look for ways to help reduce the costs that comes with buying a house, but it is a vital aspect to consider and shouldn’t be avoided. There have been numerous stories where buyers later discover various problems with the property, racking up a significantly higher bill than what a survey would have originally cost them. It’s worth noting that a survey can also help homebuyers negotiate a reduction of the property price, should it find any potential problems that need fixing immediately.

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) offer three levels of survey:

• RICS Home Condition Report
• RICS HomeBuyer Report
• RICS Building Survey

An RICS Home Condition Report will show you the condition of the property and highlight any urgent defects.

An RICS HomeBuyer Report includes all the details of the Home Condition Report as well as a market valuation, advice on defects that may affect the value of the property and ongoing maintenance advice.

An RICS Building Survey is the most comprehensive survey as it gives you a detailed structural report and an in-depth analysis of the property’s condition. This type of survey is essential for larger or older properties or if you are planning on undertaking major renovation work.

Typically, the RICS Home Condition Report is level 1 and the least expensive survey. However, as the old adage goes, “you get what you pay for”. If you are buying a property, we recommend you have at least a RICS HomeBuyer Report (level 2) done, so you can have a detailed look into the property.

Spending all your savings

Buying a house is very expensive. Saving for the deposit can be time consuming, but it’s worth taking the extra time to save money beyond the bare minimum required.

Draining savings to just about be able to afford the deposit will put you in a worrying position when the inevitable time arrives where other hidden or unexpected maintenance costs arise.

So, make sure both the home you’re interested in purchasing is affordable, and the monthly mortgage payments are achievable before making the big move.

Focusing on just the property and not the neighbourhood or surrounding areas

The most important factor to consider when buying a property, is of course, the property. But researching the neighbourhood and surrounding areas is just as important.

If the neighbours, neighbourhood, schools, and local amenities are less than ideal, it will make it much harder to enjoy your new home. To avoid this, we recommend you take the time to research the neighbourhood, school ratings, transport links and crime statistics in and around the surrounding areas before deciding to go ahead with a purchase.

Buying a property at the top end of your budget

Although it’s likely that the more expensive a property is, the better it will be, it’s worth considering both the short-term and long-term finances that comes with purchasing a property at the top end of your budget, especially for first-time buyers.

If you buy a property aiming towards the middle of your budget, it may require some work doing to it to help turn it into your dream home, but the long-term gain far outweighs the short-term costs, as you will both help increase the property value in the process and also make it more affordable to live in for you.

Property searches

When you buy a property, your conveyancer will carry out searches on the property and it’s surrounding area. Searches are a crucial part of the conveyancing process as they provide very valuable information which could actually influence the buyers purchase decision.

The most common search is the local authority search. This is required by all mortgage lenders. However, there can be more than just your local authority search included, such as environmental, brine and coal searches, which may be applicable to the property you’re purchasing.

Not all conveyancers carry out these searches, and if they do, they often charge you on a per search basis. This could significantly increase your conveyancing costs overall.

At GWlegal we charge an all-inclusive search fee which covers all the necessary searches. We also automatically carry out a Home Envirosearch which covers all environmental aspects of your property and the immediate areas of 500 metres. This also includes flood risks, which is understandably becoming a more common concern for buyers.


One of the most exciting parts when buying your first property is going furniture shopping!

All of a sudden, your weekends are spent with endless trips to your local furniture stores, retail parks and more to find the perfect sofa and dining tables for your home. However, amidst all of this excitement, first-time buyers are often unaware of the restrictions of their new home.

A lot forget to measure the sizes of different rooms before they go out to buy their favourite furniture. Then there is also the big problem of getting the items you’ve purchased, into the house, with doors and even windows having to be removed, just to help get the items in, which can sometimes result in the property getting damaged.

Check out our other first-time buyer articles:

How we can help

Ultimately, buying your first home is a very personal decision. It is also a big commitment, both emotionally and financially.

If you decide to buy, our solicitors are approachable, and you can be confident we will make the process much less stressful. We are well-equipped to take care of all the legal aspects of your purchase. We also understand how important it is to you personally and will always go the extra mile to support you on your journey to home ownership.

For more information about our services, please don’t hesitate to contact conveyancing manager, Kerry Walker, on, Teresa Abols on, or Helen Bond on Alternatively, you can call them directly on 0345 373 6130.

Who are GWlegal?

GWlegal are a property solicitors based in Liverpool, specialising in buying or selling, remortgage, declaration of trust, bridging and buy-to-let landlords.

If you have a legal matter you wish to discuss don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can call us on 0345 373 3737 email us with your question.

Who are GWlegal? We’re a national firm with local values.

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Content correct at time of publication.

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