Buying a home, whether you are an old hand or doing it for the first time, can be daunting. There are many decisions to make that could either save or cost you thousands of pounds. But don’t worry – our handy step-by-step guide will make buying your property a simple process and keep the stress to a minimum.
How much will it cost to move?
Legal fees, lender’s fees, and removal costs can quickly add up, so do this calculation first to ensure that there are no nasty surprises down the line. If you’d like a checklist, just ask. And don’t be afraid to shop around, but remember that if something seems too good to be true it usually is, and you generally get what you pay for.
What size mortgage do I need?
To make things as easy as possible for you, we can recommend an Independent Financial Advisor who has access to all the mortgages available and will find the one that’s right for you. Once a suitable lender has been found, you can then get the all-important ‘Agreement in Principle’ to give you the confidence to start looking for a property.
Searching for your dream home
Now you have an idea of what you may be able to afford, it’s time to start the exciting stuff!
It’s always worth taking the time to visit our office in person, where our local experts can discuss in depth exactly what you need. We can then register your details for our property alerts, so you’ll be amongst the first to hear about homes new to the market, often before they even make it online!
We can advise on up-and-coming areas, or even look further afield at well-connected surrounding locations where you may be able to save money.
To make it even easier for you to search and be kept up-to-date when our office is shut, our easy-to-navigate website is completely smartphone and tablet-compatible.
Time to view!
If you see a property you like, get yourself booked in as soon as possible. We recommend early viewing as the best properties always move quickly.
Make an offer
This is where your ‘Agreement in Principle’ can be very handy, as it immediately marks you out as someone who is prepared to proceed when you find the right property. We will present your offer to the seller, both verbally and in writing and – if your first offer isn’t accepted, don’t be put off – remember that the seller is also negotiating for the best price.
Should I have a solicitor?
Now that we are getting to the business end of the process so if you have got as far as making an offer, you will need to get a solicitor or conveyancer to handle the legal work to transfer ownership of the property to you.
In keeping with our aim to simplify everything for you as much as we possibly can, we can recommend law firms that we have used before and that we know will give you a first-class job whilst also keeping you, and us, updated on the progress of the transaction.
What happens when a sale is agreed?
When we have the details of both parties’ solicitors, we will confirm that the sale is agreed, subject to contract. You will need to instruct your solicitor to proceed, and for your mortgage advisor to proceed with your mortgage application.
Should I protect my mortgage?
It is certainly a good time to consider that option. If the worst happened and you weren’t around to support your family financially, they could struggle to meet the mortgage payments. This is something you should discuss with your mortgage advisor or bank/building society.
Time for a full survey?
Your mortgage lender would normally have arranged a survey to confirm that the property is worth what you are being loaned and there are generally 3 different types of survey: basic, homebuyers and building. All should be considered on the merits of the property you are buying. For example, if you are buying a property in an area with lots of trees around you or somewhere that is quite hilly then a building survey may be the one as it includes consideration of your property’s foundations. If you’re in any doubt, talk to us for expert advice.
Begin the legal process
Once your offer on a property has been accepted, you should instruct your conveyancer or solicitor to make a start on the legal process. This will usually include paying them a retainer to apply for the Land Registry Search.
Preparation of a contract
The seller’s solicitor will draw up a draft contract and send this to your solicitor, who will then raise preliminary enquiries and make a Land Registry search to prove title ownership of the property.
Property specifics and searches
Your solicitor will then contact the seller’s solicitor to make it clear exactly what is included in the sale, and enquire about other things such as boundaries, any alterations that have been made, and any disputes.
Your solicitor will perform searches of Land Registry and local authority information. They will be checking for planning history, and any potential developments around roads or drainage in the vicinity of the property.
Confirmation of mortgage
At about this time you should receive your mortgage offer, subject to the lender agreeing with the price, and all the related terms and conditions. You cannot exchange contracts without this.
What about that insurance?
With completion within touching distance, it’s a good time to get some quotes for building & contents insurance. Remember – you will need any insurance policies to begin from the date you exchange contracts.
Contract and moving in!
Your solicitor will tell you when the contract is ready to sign, and agree a date with the seller’s solicitor for exchange and completion (move-in day!). This would be a good time to get some removal quotes, if you haven’t already done so.
Exchange of contracts
Your deposit and the signed contract is sent to the seller’s solicitor. Your intention to purchase the property is now legally binding, and all relevant insurance contracts should now be put into effect.
Don’t forget to tell everyone that you have moved
You must inform all the utility companies who would need to take meter readings, and then there are all your friends, relatives, colleagues and the bank manager (assuming you want them to know!).
It’s useful to draw up a list of other interested parties, including insurance companies, finance and credit card providers and mobile phone providers, as well as any clubs, associations and community groups you belong to. You may wish to consider if it is worthwhile for the Royal Mail to redirect mail for a period too.
Finally, your solicitor pays the balance of the purchase price to the seller’s solicitor. When the money is officially received, the seller’s solicitor will inform us, so we can release the keys to you.