So, you’ve decided to enter the property market for the first time, but what’s next? From looking for suitable homes to all the paperwork involved, not to mention the huge financial commitment, the process of buying a house is often one of the most stressful periods in anyone’s life. The good news is that having a better understanding of the process can make the entire experience a much more pleasant one.So, you’ve decided to enter the property market for the first time, but what’s next? From looking for suitable homes to all the paperwork involved, not to mention the huge financial commitment, the process of buying a house is often one of the most stressful periods in anyone’s life. The good news is that having a better understanding of the process can make the entire experience a much more pleasant one.
Here’s what you need to know.
Step 1 – Work out your budget and affordability
It is important to work out how much you can afford to spend on a house before the search begins. Since buying a house is a massive financial commitment, working out your affordability is crucial. Not only will it help you plan for the future, but it will also give you an idea of what price range to consider and what type of mortgage to apply for.
Consider all costs:
A trusted finance advisor will help with all of this. They will consider all points including your savings, money in your current property (if you have one), salary and credit report and will be able to give you a theoretical offer. This allows you to ‘shop’ around and find a property within your financial budget. Once affordability has been worked out, house hunting can begin!
Step 2 – Start the conveyancing process
Once you have agreed on an offer, you will need to approach a solicitor or conveyancer to carry out the legal proceedings, i.e. the transfer of ownership from the seller to yourself. Finding a good solicitor is crucial in the home buying process.
The difference between a solicitor and conveyancer
Both the solicitor and the conveyancer are fully regulated and insured and will handle the property transaction in an identical way. The main differences between to two are:
- Conveyancers are specialist property lawyers who focus mainly on residential property.
- Solicitors are qualified lawyers who focus on various aspects of the law and can provide full service legal advice. This means that a solicitor may cost more than a conveyancer, which should be taken into account during this process.
Tips on how to find a good solicitor or conveyancer:
- Referrals from family and friends
- Your lender, mortgage broker, or independent financial advisor may be able to point you in the right direction
- Your estate agent could recommend a solicitor although these partnerships are usually commission-based, which could mean higher costs for you
- Ensure that your chosen property specialist is a member of the Law Society of England and Wales and a member of the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme, which recognises quality standards for residential conveyancing practices
- Conveyancers should be licensed, which is recognised by the Council for Licensed Conveyances, the regulatory body for Licensed Conveyancers specialising in property law
Valuation survey – This survey is done by the lender to ensure the property is worth the price you are paying before the mortgage gets approved. This is not an extensive survey and will not identify things like repairs or maintenance.
Property survey – It would also be in your best interest to have a comprehensive property survey, which will highlight any potential issues or safety concerns with the property.
Step 3 – Make an offer
Once you have found a property that meets your needs and budget, your next step will be to make an offer. Be careful though! It might seem exciting to rush in and offer the asking price to lock it down, but do some research first and compare property prices in the area. If the property seems like a steal, consider any potential drawbacks that could contribute to a property being undervalued or why a seller would accept an offer below asking price. Consideration should be placed around time – when do you plan to move in and if the seller is in a small or large chain.
Ideally, there would be no chain, which would significantly speed up the buying process.
Step 4 – Finalise the offer and mortgage
- Once the survey is complete, the surveyor will go through it with you and flag any concerns. It is at this point you can raise the issues with the seller and discuss correcting it prior to exchange or compensating you for having to fix the problem when you have completed the sale.
- You may need to renegotiate your price during this period to cover the cost of the works. Your lender will advise you on the best course of action as a change in price will affect the formal mortgage offer.
- It is very common for this stage to take a little longer than expected due to various delays, including your mortgage application being rejected, increased and unforeseen costs, or a seller pulling out or accepting a higher offer from another buyer. Our advice is to be vigilant and make sure you are getting the best advice. Your agent will be able to advise and guide you where needed.
Step 5 – Exchange contracts
When all the searches have been complete and both parties are happy, your solicitor will send you a final contract to sign which will have the agreed completion date. At this point, you are unable to pull out of the contract without losing your deposit. Make sure you go through all the details on your contract and speak to your solicitor about anything that concerns you.
Step 6 – Complete the process
- The end is in sight! All the official paperwork has been done, now it is time to pay.
- Your solicitor will transfer the funds for the property to the seller as well as registering your property with the Land Registry on your behalf. They will send you the title deeds for your records once they have received them.
- You will need to pay your solicitor’s bill and Stamp Duty which you will have most likely transferred to them with the deposit monies.
- Once the completion date is confirmed, you have successfully purchased a house and can start planning your move. In terms of timings for completion day – it is more common for this to be around 1pm to give both parties half a day to move in or out.
Speak to a Douglas and Gordon expert to get the process started!
Douglas & Gordon take pride in managing the process between offer and exchange which can so often come with hiccups and bumps along the way.