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 Level 1 Surveys for modern houses, Level 2 Surveys for houses built up to 100 years ago and in-depth Level 3 Surveys for older houses 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.

Exchanging contracts

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.

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Client Testimonials

Ben Green
Ben Green
24 May 2023
Having used Paul's services for a survey on our upcoming listed building purchase I can assure you that you will get the most thorough, professional and helpful service that you could wish for. The report tallied over 100 pages covering all aspects of the house, walls, frames, windows, roof space, drainage, outbuildings, render, roof tiles, water tanks, electrics, insulation, listed building consent, health and safety and much more. Not only that but Paul's report also told us how to best maintain the house going forwards, using what materials and how often things need doing. This was most definitely worth every penny and has allowed us to make an informed decision on the purchase going forwards. A+ rating from me!
James Marron
James Marron
19 May 2023
I could not recommend Paul Gowers highly enough. Excellent service and a very comprehensive, clear report. An extremely knowledgeable and helpful professional.
Brian Scull
Brian Scull
15 September 2021
I have just had a Survey completed by Gowers of Stamford. I have to say that the team there are superb. From the first contact with Catherine who was courteous, professional and helpful and who also arranged everything. To the surveyor Paul who was marvellous, the report was clear and well presented and easy to understand. Paul was extremely helpful and prepared to spend time discussing all the sections and any issues i had.He was very professional and a pleasure to deal with. I don’t normally do revues but felt compelled on this occasion because they deserve enormous praise and i would thoroughly recommend them.
Cameron Bauldry
Cameron Bauldry
7 July 2021
I needed a building survey doing at short notice after red flags were raised once receiving searches and the sellers paperwork back. Unfortunately Gowers and everyone else I checked with were all booked up for months however Paul took time out of his busy day to speak to me, listen to my situation and provide me with some fantastic advice which I very much appreciate. He is very knowledgeable and the advice given has helped me in the next steps of my house purchase. Thank you again.
Neil Crees
Neil Crees
18 March 2021
The value of using Paul, a local well known professional, was huge. I received immediate personal feedback allowing me to take timely action to avoid what could have been an expensive mistake.
Sam Paul
Sam Paul
10 December 2019
We engaged Gowers to carry out a building survey for an old residential property with multiple issues. Paul Gowers was excellent in his response time to our questions and the level of professional reporting. The service we received was reassuring for us and we would certainly use Gowers again.
Mandy Ingram
Mandy Ingram
6 June 2018
We recently used Gowers Surveyors for a building project involving the Party Wall Act. It was applicable on both boundaries and Paul acted as Agreed Surveyor on one side and Building Owner Surveyor on the other. The build itself was fairly straight forward, but the Party Wall process was definitely not... Paul is the consummate professional. Knowledgeable, reliable, calm and level headed he always made himself available whether in person or at the end of a phone or email to ourselves and our contractors. The project lasted 8 months and he continued to deliver the highest level of professionalism and advice throughout. Cannot recommend him highly enough!

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