Getting on the property ladder is one of the most important and expensive transactions you are likely to make. Finding a property that suits you can be stressful and a financial worry but it doesn’t need to be difficult.
Firstly you need to register with an excellent estate agent which is where we come in. We have provided below a guide to give you a general understanding of the process and the sort of issues that can arise.
As with any large purchase, the first step is for you to determine your budget. Mortgage advisers can help you determine what your budget is and check your ability to afford your monthly repayments. They will go through your monthly income and outgoings and discuss with you any potential changes in circumstances such as being made redundant or having children and how this can affect your mortgage.
Lenders no longer allow for 100% mortgages so you will need to have a deposit saved and this can be anything from 5% – 20% of the total cost of the house. Generally speaking you should be able to secure a preferential mortgage deal if you have at least 10% of the total cost as a deposit. Anything above this amount can be even more beneficial depending on the lender.
There are hundreds of different mortgage packages on the market and it can be difficult finding the right one for you. It is important to secure a mortgage before you start viewing properties to avoid losing out on your ideal property to another buyer in a stronger position. Applying for pre-approval before starting viewings shows the seller that you are a serious buyer and once the property has been viewed and an offer accepted you are ready to proceed with the mortgage application process.
There are other costs associated with buying a property which must be considered. These include Stamp Duty, which is the tax paid to the government and the Land Registry Fee to register the property in your name. Stamp Duty varies on the area and value of the property but you can use the government website calculator to check the cost of this. There will also be solicitor fees to pay and when deciding on which one to use remember to check what fees are included in the quote as often competitive quotes can turn out expensive if not all fees are included in the initial quote, so make sure you compare like for like.
Find the Right Property
The best way to get the most for your money is to keep an open mind and to be flexible. Decide on those aspects of a property that are essential ‘i.e. the non-negotiables’, however being flexible over some factors for example whether to have a garage, size of garden, location etc will ensure you find the best value for money.
Location can be everything when buying a property but this can often come with an increased price. Research areas for good schools, local amenities and transport links. It is also worth investigating the council tax bands in the area in which you are thinking of buying. These can be found on the government website and in addition visit the Office of National Statistics to see the crime statistics, population etc.
When you have chosen a property to view, remember to take your time. Make a list of questions and take it with you – ask whether the property is listed, has it had any electrical or plumbing checks recently? How old is the roof and the boiler? Speak to neighbours to gain some knowledge of the area.
Making an Offer
When you have found the house for you, try and make the offer as soon as possible to avoid missing out. Decide if you want or need to negotiate. Make sure you have looked at other properties in the area – you can use our property search to get a good idea of what properties are selling for. If you are a first-time buyer and have no chain and a pre-arranged mortgage in place, then make sure you inform the agent of this when putting the offer, as this may help you close the deal.
Once an offer has been accepted the mortgage provider will arrange for a valuation survey on the property to be undertaken. Remember this is just a basic valuation and you may want to consider paying extra to get a full survey completed. If necessary you can negotiate further if there are any issues, for example plumbing or electrical issues and remember if anything serious is discovered you are still legally able to back out of the sale.
Conveyancing is the legal name given to transferring ownership from one person to another. Your chosen conveyancer / solicitor will ask questions about the property on your behalf for example the legal boundaries of the property and what fixtures and fitting are included. They also pay the stamp duty and change the name on the title of the property. In addition they will undertake searches on the property.
This process is time consuming and from offer acceptance to completion it can take approximately twelve weeks, even without a chain. When all the paperwork has been completed your conveyancer will inform you that the contracts are ready to be exchanged. Before the contracts are exchanged make sure you have insurance cover and the deposit ready. Upon exchange, a date for completion will be confirmed and this date is legally binding.
Congratulations! You now have your new home. Remember to use a respected removal firm from the British Association of Removers and shop around for the best quote. Don’t forget to change the name on the utility accounts and council tax and take meter readings on the day you move in. We also strongly recommend that you change the locks. Then treat yourself to a bottle of wine and your favourite take-away to celebrate!