Step 1 – Setting your sights
Before you can start looking at properties it is important to have an idea of the price you can afford, which usually means knowing how much you can borrow. If you don’t already have a firm idea of the maximum mortgage you could get, or the monthly payments associated with it, we suggest getting in touch so as one of our mortgage advisors can get you started on the right track.
Step 2 – House hunting
Looking at properties can be a time consuming business, but as it’s likely to be one of the most expensive purchases you will ever make it’s worth being at least a little patient. Often it proves useful to look at a number of properties online to ‘get your eye in’ before venturing out to physically see any. Another tip is to write a list of ‘must haves’ and ‘nice to haves’ to focus your search and avoid wasting time on unnecessary viewings.
Step 3 – Viewing
Whilst it would be very unlikely you would put in an offer for a home without viewing it first, its well worth considering more research than just one visit. You may wish to visit at different times, walk the area, speak to neighbours and find out how they enjoy living there. You may wish to prepare a list of questions for a second visit having mulled the property over.
Step 4 – Making an offer
When you have found the right house, make sure you put an offer in straight away. Do not be afraid to offer below the asking price. In England & Wales it is important to make an offer ‘subject to survey and contract’ as this allows you to withdraw if you find out anything you have not discovered so far. In Scotland there should already be a Home Report available.
If the offer is accepted, you may need to put down an initial deposit to secure it – although you are not obliged to do so at this stage. We suggest you speak with an expert, and our mortgage advisers can recommend a reliable and competitively priced solicitor.
Step 5 – Survey
A lender will require a basic valuation before formally offering you a mortgage. However we always recommend having a more detailed survey completed to tell you more about the property you’re about to spend a significant sum on. Such a survey will not only tell you how much it is worth, but also tell you about its structural stability and warn you of any faults that it may have (and the resulting repair costs).
In Scotland there should already be a Home Report available which you and the lender can normally rely upon. In England and Wales you may have to pay for the valuation, typically arranged through the lender.
Your advisor will discuss with you the different types of surveys you can choose.
Step 6 – Solicitor
You will need a solicitor to handle the legal aspects of your property purchase. As with any professional service it is important to pick a reliable expert to avoid delays. If you don’t already have one we will be happy to help you choose the right one at a reasonable price.
Your solicitor will deal with the detailed offer and acceptance process, resulting in a contract they’re happy with, before reviewing the title deeds on your behalf.
Step 7 – Mortgage offer
Once the lender is happy with the documents provided, the valuation, and your credit worthiness, you will receive a formal offer of mortgage in writing. A copy will also be sent to your solicitor. This will contain all of the terms and conditions. Once signed and returned, your offer of finance is in place and you are ready to proceed.
Step 8 – Exchange of contracts (Conclusion of Missives in Scotland)
The contract is signed by you and the seller, and the deposit you have put aside will be forwarded to the vendor’s solicitors. The completion date is then set. At exchange of contracts you are responsible for insuring the property and therefore must ensure you arrange buildings insurance cover.
Step 9 – Completion
This is the point you become the legal owner of your new home, usually the day you get to pick up the keys from the selling agent. Typically this is a few days to a few weeks after the exchange of contracts in England & Wales, and one to two months after concluding missives in Scotland, but this can be altered to any period to suit the buyer and seller as agreed through the solicitors. This is also the day that funds for the purchase are transferred and the mortgage comes into force.