Whether you are buying a family home or an investment property, it is important to have a good understanding of the purchasing process. Once you have found the right property and had your offer accepted, knowing the next steps can help you ensure a smooth transaction without undue stress. The typical home buying journey from ‘sale agreed’ to completion is around 8-12 weeks but, depending on individual circumstances, can take considerably longer.
At Gowers Surveyors, we appreciate that buying a property can be a daunting experience, which is why our team of experienced Chartered Surveyors provides a wide range of surveying services and property advice, providing the right information to help you make the best decision. We’ve put together a comprehensive guide on buying a house, outlining the typical steps on your journey to home ownership.
Looking for a property
Buying a house starts with in-depth research to clarify your parameters. What exactly is it you are looking for? A flat or a house? A modern home or a period property? How many bedrooms? What is your preferred location? Do you need a garden, parking or development potential? What is your budget? Visit your favoured area and walk around to check out the local amenities and make sure they meet your needs.
Getting a mortgage in principle
Before you are ready to make an offer to buy a property, it’s important to have your finances in place. Most estate agents won’t consider you as a credible buyer unless you can confirm that you are financially able to proceed. Unless you are a cash buyer, it’s best to work with an independent mortgage broker to get the best deal for your situation and secure an AIP (Agreement in Principle) from your lender.
Making an offer
When you have found the property that meets your needs and wish to make an offer, consider the amount you are prepared to pay in the context of comparable properties for sale in the area. Find out how long the flat or house has been on the market, why the vendor is selling and get an idea of the condition of the property. Based on all the information you have, make an offer subject to survey and contract, and point out all the reasons why you are in a strong buying position.
Instructing a conveyancer
The estate agent will now confirm the agreed sale with a Memorandum of Sale, which goes to your and your seller’s solicitors or licenced conveyancers, so they can start the legal process of transferring the ownership of the property from the seller to the buyer. They will make the required ID, money laundering and other initial checks and send out pre-contract packs and property information forms.
Instructing a surveyor
Now is the time to instruct a Chartered Surveyor to assess the condition of the building to ensure it is structurally sound and worth the money you are paying for it. At Gowers Surveyors, we offer a choice of RICS home surveys including RICS condition report (Level 1 survey), homebuyers report (rics level 2 survey) and in-depth Building Surveys (rics level 3 survey) as well as specialist Historic Building Surveys. Our surveys are independent and thorough, designed to give you all the facts you need to make an informed decision.
Local searches and other checks
Your solicitor will initiate local searches including a Local Authority Search, Environmental Search, Land Registry Search, Water Authority Search, Chancel Repair searches and more. These are an important part of the conveyancing process to establish if there are any issues you should be aware of before you take ownership of the property. Your solicitor will also draft the contract of sale and raise a whole host of queries with the seller.
Confirming the mortgage offer
Your mortgage application will now be processed in earnest, with numerous checks carried out by the mortgage company to satisfy their lending criteria including a mortgage valuation to assess the risk of the loan. If all goes well, you will receive a confirmed mortgage offer. This is a significant milestone in the home buying journey and often one of the final hurdles that could scupper the transaction.
Signing the contract
Once the mortgage is in place and you are happy with the survey findings, your solicitor will send you the contracts and accompanying bundle of documents. It is your responsibility to read through everything carefully to ensure you understand it all and are happy with everything. Your solicitor should point out anything that needs your attention and alert you to anything unusual, but it is your responsibility to ensure you understand the contract before you sign it.
When both sides are ready to proceed with the sale, contracts are exchanged and the deposit (usually 10% of the purchase price) is transferred to the seller’s account. At this point, both parties are now legally committed to the purchase, and there are financial penalties for non-completion. An agreed date for completion will have been specified in the contract, so the countdown towards moving in day has begun.
Completing the transaction
To get ready for completion, your solicitor will ask you to transfer the remainder of the purchase price, or draw down the funds from your lender ready to pay for the property in full. When the monies are received on the day of completion, you will receive the keys and the property is now yours. If you are in a property chain, there may be a delay as the chain needs to complete in order, meaning the keys may not be released until the entire chain has completed.
Gowers Surveyors have offices in Cambridge, Peterborough and Stamford, and are happy to take enquiries from customers across the East of England. If you would like further information about any of our surveying services or obtain a free quote, please don’t hesitate to contact us or simply complete the form below to get in touch with our expert team.
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