Even if you have owned property before, the process of buying can be daunting.
Before you start, it is worthwhile checking that you are actually in a position to proceed, as there is nothing worse than falling in love with a property and then finding that you can’t actually afford it.
Calculate the level of deposit you have available, either through savings and/or another property.
If a mortgage is required, a budget planner should be carefully completed and a maximum monthly mortgage payment established. Once you have this data, make an appointment to see an independent financial adviser to obtain advice on the mortgages available to you.
There are numerous property search engines available online, and no estate agent advertises on all of them. So don’t limit your search to just one site, use 3 or 4. If you find a property you like, do make sure that you visit the estate agent’s own website as there will often be additional tools that you can use to find out more about the property, such as videoettes with a voiceover and 3-D floor plans.
Select your ‘minimum’ and ‘maximum’ price range carefully – don’t set the minimum too high (you never know what might come on below your budget), and don’t set your maximum too low as guide prices will be kept under constant review and may be reduced to within your budget.
Once you have selected a property you like, you should contact the instructed estate agent and request a viewing. Some sellers like to conduct their own viewings, which can be useful as they can actually provide a lot of information about their own property.
Alternatively, some sellers prefer to have a professional viewer showcase their property for them and won’t be at home when you visit. If this is the case, any questions that you have about the property can always be relayed to the seller by the estate agent.
It is a good idea to create a list of standard questions to ask when you view a property such as “how old is the gas boiler?” and “is the property connected to mains drains?”
If you can’t attend an arranged viewing, do let the estate agent know in good time – preparing a property for viewing takes an awful lot of time and effort.
Making an Offer
Once you find the property for you, decide what you think the property is worth and contact the estate agent to make an offer. Most sellers will not accept the first offer received and it is therefore not a good idea to offer the most you can afford in the first instance.
The negotiation process can take time, especially if the seller’s circumstances are complex. You may have to make several offers before one is accepted and you should try not to get down-hearted during this process.
If the seller will not accept your highest offer, move on. There will be another property out there for you!
Once you have an offer accepted, the estate agents will want to take some details from you. As well as your name and contact details, you will need to provide the name and address of the solicitor carrying out your conveyancing. You may also be asked to provide evidence of your funding in order to ‘qualify’ your position.
A notification of sale will then be prepared by the estate agent and sent to you and the seller as well as your respective solicitors.
The Legal Stuff
You will need to instruct a conveyancer as soon as you have an offer accepted. The standard of service provided by conveyancers can vary dramatically and you should choose your legal adviser very carefully.
Don’t be tempted to use the cheapest conveyancer you can find – this usually means they are working to very tight budgets with enormous caseloads, and transaction times often suffer as a result.
Instead, look for a firm of solicitors who have achieved accreditation with the Law Society’s ‘Conveyancing Quality Scheme’ or ‘CQS’ such as Milne Moser Solicitors. This shows that the firm complies with the Law Society’s Protocol and has demonstrated to the Law Society that they have the necessary experience to offer a quality service.
Unless any unexpected problems arise, you should expect a transaction period of between 6 and 8 weeks from the date of instructing your solicitor to the date when you get the keys.
Mortgage & Survey
Once you have instructed your solicitor, you need to start to progress your mortgage application as quickly as possible. Contact your financial adviser and find out what information is required from you. If you obtained advice from a financial adviser before you made your offer, this process should already be underway.
Your financial adviser will need a number of original documents from you including proof of identification, payslips and bank statements. You should supply these as quickly as possible to ensure that your mortgage application is not delayed.
You will also need to decide on what type of survey is best for you. For more information on valuations and surveys, please visit our Surveys page.