Below is a summary of the main steps involved in buying a property.
Get your finances in place
- First, work out how much of a deposit for the mortgage you can get together. Think about savings, what you might be able to borrow from family, and how much you would get if you put your current home on the market and paid off your deposit. If you have any savings on long term deposit that you plan to use, cash them in.
- Decide what sort of mortgage you want.
- A mortgage broker can be particularly helpful if you would like advice on mortgages, to scan the full range of mortgages in the market or if you have special circumstances such as being self-employed.
- Get a mortgage in principle, which will put you in a stronger position.
Decide where you want to live
- If you want to move to a new home close to where you already live, there is little to decide
- You might want to move to a more rural location, and if you are used to living in a town then you will find rural life quite different. It is much quieter and can be more isolating, and you won’t just be able to pop down to the supermarket in five minutes. Your friends may have to drive some distance to visit you. But it also has benefits, you will be living in beautiful surroundings, and you may save money or be able to buy a larger property for the same money as one closer to town. You may also want some land, or just a much larger garden.
Choose a specific property
- Once you know the area you want to live, you should start researching the properties in that area thoroughly so you really get to know the local market well. We have a good selection of properties always available to view.
- It’s also important to understand whether the property is freehold or leasehold, and that it is not on a short lease. Ask us if you are unsure about this
Make an offer – and get it accepted
- Make sure you are in the strongest possible position as a buyer.
- Decide how much you want to pay, including for fixtures and fittings
- Make the offer (we will pass that on to the seller), and seal the deal
- Hopefully your offer will be accepted by the seller
Arrange a mortgage
- You should ideally have got your finances in place as much as possible before making an offer. You now just need to go back to your mortgage company with the agreed offer and complete the process
- If you haven’t got your finances in place, you must now scramble to do so as quickly as possible, before the buyer loses patience
- Remember, you need to also have funds to pay stamp duty
- You will need to get the lender to make you a formal mortgage offer before you can exchange contracts
Stamp duty calculator
Here is a handy calculator to help you work out stamp duty. This should be used as a guide only, we will tell you how much stamp duty you will actually need to pay (if any).
Hire a solicitor or conveyancer
- Once you have agreed an offer on your house, it’s time to deal with the legal work of transferring ownership of the property to you. This is called Conveyancing. You are free to use a solicitor of your choice unless your mortgage company might require you to go with one that is on their panel,
- If you do use an independent solicitor, shop around for the best deals first. Remember, there are many online services, but these may not be as good as dealing with a local solicitor or estate agent who knows the area and will be available in person to resolve any problems.
- The solicitor or conveyancer will do the searches, such as with the local authority and Environment Agency, to ensure there are not any major problems with the property
Decide if you want a survey
- Your mortgage lender will require a valuation by a surveyor, to ensure that the property is a good enough to lend against. This is not a full survey, and will only look very superficially at the property
- You are free to choose to have a full survey.
Arrange a deposit
- Before you can exchange contracts, you need to arrange a deposit which is a percentage (usually 10%) of the sale price of the property, and give it to your solicitor or conveyancer (or us, if we are handling conveyancing)
- You might be able to raise the deposit from the sale of your existing home, or it can be provided by your mortgage lender
- When you exchange contracts with the seller you become legally committed to buying the property – and they are legally committed to selling it do you
- If you pull out after this without due reason, your deposit can be forfeit
- You should only exchange contracts after you have received the surveyors report, and any necessary action has been taken
- Before you exchange contracts, you need to agree a completion date with the seller, usually one to two weeks following the exchange
- You can only exchange contracts after the solicitor/conveyancer is satisfied with the searches, a formal mortgage offer has been received, and arrangements made for the deposit
- You need to ensure that you take out buildings insurance for the property from the date of exchange, as you are responsible for it from then on. Indeed, it is usually a condition of the mortgage that you have buildings insurance in place
Final arrangements and negotiations
- You need to negotiate any final things that have not yet been agreed, such as buying any personal items and arranging a house removals if required.
- You need to make arrangements for the supply of electricity, gas, water and telephone service, and that the seller has got readings made. Often, it is easiest simply to change the account name for the existing suppliers to the property, rather than change suppliers, which you can do at a later date. See our moving day check-list to help you plan your move and it is a good idea to consider the best day to move
- The solicitor/conveyancer will inform the land registry that they are in the process of transferring ownership of your property
- Your solicitor/conveyancer should be liaising with the mortgage company to ensure the money will be ready for completion. You need to ensure that your deposit is also ready, and normally you will pay that to your conveyancer before completion
Complete the sale
- Completion is when you pay for the property and take ownership of it, and takes place at a certain time of day – often midday
- On the day of completion, the money is transferred and the deeds of the property are transferred, between each side’s conveyancer
Take possession of your new home
- The seller has to leave the property by the time of completion, and you should then be able to collect the keys, normally from the estate agent
- You are now free to move in, or if you are doing any building work before hand, the workmen can start
Pay stamp duty and settle up with the solicitor and conveyancer
- After completion, your solicitor or conveyancer will send you an account, covering all their costs and disbursements, as well as the purchase price of the house and stamp duty. Stamp duty is only payable on properties above a certain price, you can easily find the current legislation online.
- Your solicitor or conveyancer will normally pay the stamp duty for you, and ensure that the change of ownership is registered with the land registry