A guide to buying a home
Firstly decide how much you can afford. Consider your savings and how much you can borrow.
Various financial institutions, including banks and building societies offer loans to people buying a property.
Buying a house has a lot of costs in addition to the mortgage.
- Survey fees
- Valuation fees
- Stamp Duty Land Tax
- Land Registry fee
- Fees charged by the mortgage lender or the mortgage broker
- Solicitors’ costs
- Removal expenses
- Any final bills, for example, gas and electricity, from your present house which will have to be paid when you move
There are a number of ways which are helpful to finding a property:
- Estate Agents
- Property pages in local newspapers
- Contacting house building companies for details of new properties
- The Internet
The seller has to provide an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) which highlights the energy efficiency of the property (how ‘green’ it is) and the potential of what it could be.
When you find the property you want to buy you do not necessarily have to pay the seller’s asking price. For example you can offer less if you think there are repairs to be done that will cost you money, or simply if you think the property price is too high. Websites such as houseprices.co.uk or zoopla.co.uk can help with deciding an appropriate offer.
If the property is being sold through an estate agent, tell the agent what you are prepared to pay and this offer will be put to the seller.
If you make a written offer, this should be made subject to contract; therefore you will not be committed to buying the property yet.
Remember that an oral offer is not legally binding.
Congratulations, your offer has been accepted. There are now various steps you must take:
- Instructing a solicitor
- Arranging a mortgage
- Deciding if a survey is necessary
When choosing a solicitor, look carefully at the list of services, the qualifications, the experience and recommendations of the lawyer who will be looking after your interests. It is important that you understand the costs involved and check whether the figure quoted is a fixed fee of if it depends on how much work is involved. The process can be made easier on you if you have a solicitor with whom you have a good rapport, one who you can contact whenever you need and one who you can rely on to keep you updated and in the picture.
Croftons offer full conveyancing services. You can telephone us on 0161 979 0004 and speak to one of our property lawyers who will take you through the conveyancing procedure and you will have the opportunity to give any specific instructions, for example preferred completion dates. Alternatively, you could email us at email@example.com
If you have not already begun to arrange a mortgage, you should do this now. It should take approximately 3 weeks from the application for the mortgage to the formal offer being made by the lender. This time scale may vary. The mortgage lender will want to have the property valued. The valuation will be carried out by a surveyor on behalf of the lender but you will have to pay for this valuation, usually in advance.
The valuation which is carried out for the mortgage lender is not a survey. Therefore, we recommend that you have an independent survey carried out. Always remember the golden rule is “buyer beware” so you will be liable for any problems that you discover after exchange of contracts. There are a number of legal steps to buying property and this is often called ‘conveyancing’ and is usually handled by a solicitor. Choosing a solicitor can seem like a minefield, but it is a very important part of the property buying process. The solicitor will look into all the legal aspects and carry out enquiries called ‘searches’ about the surrounding the area e.g. are there any old landfills nearby, that may affect the value or stability of the property.
This varies from case to case and depends on a number of factors. A standard transaction, without complications, usually takes six to eight weeks. At Croftons we will progress your purchase as quickly as possible, but there are some factors which are outside our control, such as receipt of your mortgage offer, delays on the part of the person you are buying from or selling to or delays up or down the chain or unexpected complications with the legal title to the property. Be reassured though we will do all we can to keep the process as smooth and hastle free as possible.
The deposit is payable at the point of exchange of contracts and is usually 10% of the purchase price but can vary. If you are also selling a property, it is usually possible to put the deposit on your property being sold toward the deposit on the property you are buying. If raising the deposit is a problem, then you could consider borrowing the money for the deposit from relatives or you could try to get a bridging loan from a bank. Discuss your options with your solicitor.
You should make sure that buildings insurance is arranged from the date of exchange, because once contracts have been exchanged you are responsible for the property Please note this is also a lender requirement. Discuss the buildings insurance requirements with your solicitor.
You and the seller each have a copy of the final contract which you must sign.
These contracts will be exchanged on a date agreed by you and the seller when:
- Your solicitor is satisfied with the final outcome of the enquiries, search results and mortgage instructions have been received
- Any surveyor’s report has been received and any necessary action taken
- Arrangements about the payment of the deposit have been made
- The date of completion has been agreed
Once contracts have been exchanged, both you and the seller are legally bound and the sale must go ahead. If you withdraw, you are likely to lose your deposit. At this stage you should make arrangements for the supply of gas, electricity and telephone service and make sure that the seller is arranging for the final meter reading to be made. You can now also finalise your removal arrangements as a moving date has been set.
On the day agreed for completion:
- The mortgage lender releases the money to your solicitor
- The deeds to the property are handed over to your solicitor
- The seller hands over the keys to the estate agent and vacates the property
It is usual for the estate agents to have the keys and if you are buying a house you will be able to pick them up from the estate agents on the day of completion (once the money has reached the seller’s solicitors’ account).
To find our more you can telephone us on 0161 979 0004 and speak to one of our property lawyers. Alternatively, you could email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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