If you have never owned a home before or it’s a long time since you went through the process, it can be rather daunting. Residential property specialist, Victoria Cranwell, outlines the procedure, highlighting some of the main considerations.
To discuss your residential property requirements, including requesting a conveyancing quote, our conveyancing solicitors are available on 01225 462871. Alternatively, you can contact them by email, or complete the Contact Form at the foot of this page. Conveyancing quotes are also available online.
Below, I have set out very briefly the main stages involved in buying a house. However, as every buyer and property are different, no two transactions are ever the same. Your conveyancing solicitor will be happy to discuss the process with you in more detail.
Should you sell first?
If you already own a property, selling first can put you in a much stronger position. You will not have a chain behind you and if you also have a mortgage in principle or selling means you are a cash buyer, you will be a very attractive prospect to the seller when you find your dream home.
Work out your budget
Remember, this will not just be conveyancing costs and Stamp Duty, but also removal costs, storage costs (particularly if you have already sold), costs of connecting services, appliances and equipment in your new home, Royal Mail redirection fee – the list goes on.
Ensure your finances are sufficient and in place
A problem we see from time to time involves first time buyers who have been saving for a deposit. Very sensibly, their savings tend to be on long-term deposit, but sometimes they overlook the minimum amount of notice required before the funds can be withdrawn.
You will need to carefully research the mortgage product which is right for you, and if you can, always get a mortgage in principle before you start looking for a property – it will put you in a stronger position with a seller.
Keep your options open
Even if you fall in love with the first property you view, check out others as well. Buying a house is a huge and expensive step and you need to be certain the property is right for you.
Is the property freehold or leasehold?
It’s a crucial distinction. Your conveyancing solicitor will explain in detail, but you will find the main differences explained here.
Is the property a new build?
Make an offer
Although this is primarily a financial negotiation, don’t forget that your seller probably has an emotional attachment to their home, particularly if they’ve been there for a long time. Demonstrate that you love the property. Explaining all the major changes you’re planning may not endear you to them!
Do you need Home Buyer’s Protection Insurance?
Depending on the policy, this may cover legal, surveyors and mortgage lending costs should the purchase fall through. Your conveyancing solicitor can discuss this with you.
Arrange your mortgage
You should already have a mortgage in principle, so once your offer is accepted, you will just need to finalise the process with the lender.
Do you need life insurance?
If you have a mortgage, this can be a good idea. Discuss this with your independent financial adviser.
Instruct your conveyancing solicitor
You will first need to obtain a conveyancing quote. It’s always best to instruct a local solicitor who will be familiar with the requirements in the area, such as which searches are necessary locally. They will also handle the transaction from start to finish, unlike conveyancing factory firms where it can be difficult to speak to the same person twice. The factory firms are also renowned for hidden fees and lengthy delays!
How long do searches take when buying a house?
What type of survey do you need?
Although your mortgage lender will require a mortgage valuation by a surveyor to ensure that the property is a good prospect to lend against, this is not a proper, in-depth survey that you can personally rely upon. Unless you have considerable expertise in property, it’s always worth paying to get your own survey done (Home Buyer Report or Building Survey). If your survey reveals that unexpected work will be necessary, you may decide to renegotiate the price with the seller, or even to withdraw from the transaction.
Exchange of contracts
This is the point when you become legally committed to buying the property. The completion date will have been agreed and you will have to pay your deposit, which is usually 10%. If you pull out after contracts are exchanged, you are likely to forfeit the deposit monies. You will also need to ensure buildings insurance is in place – it will be a condition of your mortgage – and confirm your provisional booking with the removal company.
Completion refers to the moment when you pay for the property and take ownership of it. Your solicitor will transfer the completion monies to the seller’s solicitor, at which point the property becomes yours. The seller’s solicitor will authorise the estate agent to release the keys to you.
There is a lot to do between exchange of contracts and completion, particularly on completion day itself. See our handy completion day checklist.
There will be some post-completion work for your solicitor, including paying your Stamp Duty and registering the transaction at the Land Registry.