Purchase Key Stages
Choose a mortgage
Choose a mortgage via an Independent Financial Adviser, broker or lender. An ‘agreement in principle’ outlines how much the lender is likely to offer and the interest rate you will pay. This can be finalised once the property has been found and the lender’s valuation has been carried out.
Make an offer
Find a great property and make an offer. If the seller is using an estate agent, you will have to make the offer through the agent. It’s worth doing some research before making an offer. You can find out what similar properties have sold for on popular property websites. Also look at local house price trends to see how values may have changed.
Find a great conveyancer
Find a conveyancer at the earliest opportunity, who will then work on your behalf throughout the buying process. To minimise stress and delays, look for a conveyancer you have confidence in, rather than the cheapest option.
Arrange a survey
Arrange for a surveyor to inspect the property for any problems (remember that the valuation report issued by the lender’s surveyor is very basic and not for your benefit). Consider either a Home Buyers Report or full structural survey.
Your conveyancer will submit searches
The conveyancer will submit searches relating to the property, to check for planning or local issues that might affect the property’s value.
The lender will perform a valuation
The lender’s surveyor will carry out a valuation to make sure that the property’s value is sufficient in relation to the level of mortgage you have requested.
Check the Energy Performance Certificate
Review the property’s Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). It will be available from the estate agent. If the rating is low, then heating the property will be expensive. Improving this may require significant investments, such as a new boiler and loft and wall insulation.
Finalise the offer and mortgage
Finalise the offer and mortgage – as informed by the lender‘s valuation, EPC and survey findings. The information received from these reports may lead you to renegotiate the price and if a lower price is agreed you will need to advise the lender so that a new offer can be issued.
Instruct the lender to proceed
If the mortgage is approved and there are no further issues, contact your lender or mortgage advisor to proceed.
Mention any specific requirements
Let your conveyancer know if you have any specific requirements of the property (e.g. specific use, planned extensions etc.) so that checks can be made to ensure there is nothing prohibiting such use.
Review any contract and title issues
Your conveyancer will also raise enquiries with regards to anything that was revealed in the searches, contract and title documentation provided by the seller’s conveyancer. These responses and their significance will be reported to you by your conveyancer.
Review contract with your conveyancer
A contract will be sent to you for signing, together with the Transfer, Mortgage Deed (where applicable) and any other required documents (if not, you will receive it later, prior to completion). Remember that your signature(s) on the transfer must be witnessed by an independent adult (but not a relative).
Before signing, go through the contract with your conveyancer to ensure that all the details are correct, your queries have been answered, and that you are happy with what the sellers have agreed to leave in the property (fixtures and fittings).
Check the plans to ensure that they show the full extent of the property and the land that you believe you are buying.
Although you will be signing the contract in preparation for exchange, you will not be committed to the purchase until a formal exchange of contracts has taken place.
Negotiate a completion date
Negotiate, via your conveyancer, with the seller, the length of time between exchange and completion. It will be influenced by the length of the chain (as everyone needs to agree the same completion date) and any problems flagged up by the surveys. Also, finalise what fixtures and fittings are to remain.
Once you have exchanged contracts, both you and the seller are legally committed to the transaction and your deposit will be paid (typically 10% of the purchase price).
Should you pull out of the transaction without due reason, you will lose this deposit and could be sued. If the seller should pull out, your deposit will be returned to you and you may be able to sue them.
If you are relying on the sale of your existing property to fund the purchase of your new one, then you will need to ensure that the contracts for both properties are exchanged at the same time.
Obtain building insurance
Obtain the necessary buildings insurance that complies with the lender’s requirements (and any other insurance that you consider appropriate to protect you and your new home).
Completion and final steps
Your mortgage money is received by your conveyancer and purchase funds are transferred to the seller’s conveyancer.
The property changes ownership with the deeds of the property being transferred between the conveyancers. The keys are usually handed over via the estate agent.
Your conveyancer will submit the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) return to HMRC and pay any duty due within 30 days of completion. They will also register the purchase and mortgage with the Land Registry. Check these final two steps have been done (your conveyancer will usually send you a copy of the Title Document once it has been received from the Land Registry).
Congratulations on your new home!