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A Practical Guide to Buying a Property

Buying a property can be a stressful or a smooth running process depending on how you approach things. It is very important to have an understanding of the different steps involved so you can undertake some research yourself before hand, but, more importantly, so that you are fully aware of exactly what is involved and that things do not take you by surprise.   

Many people find that buying a property is a somewhat traumatic experience but it doesn’t have to be that way provided you understand what is going on! 

The basic stages during the purchase process are as follows:

1. Find a property

Times have changed and the marketing of properties is more widespread than ever with sellers using different methods concurrently to promote their properties. Properties can be found by looking on the internet, by reading Property Newspapers, though auction lists or by attending your local estate agents.

2. Make an offer on the Property

If you are using an estate agent the offer is usually made directly to the agent rather than the seller. The agent is a useful middleman through whom to negotiate. If it is a private sale the negotiations are conducted by the parties themselves.

3. Undertake some DIY research on the property and surrounding  area

Buyers do not realise just how much information they can find out about a property and its surrounding area just by carrying out their own research.  See: DIY Conveyancing

4. Find a Mortgage (and a Broker, if necessary)

If you are buying with mortgage finance you can arrange your mortgage through a broker (who will charge a fee) or you can contact the lender directly to arrange a mortgage. You can also check on line for the various mortgages on offer and interest rates.

5. Arrange a Survey

It is strongly recommended that you have a survey carried out on the property before you commit to the purchase. The two main types are, Home Buyers Report and a Structural or Full Building Survey. If you are taking out a mortgage, the lender will carry out a mortgage valuation which is a type of survey, however, there are limitations to a mortgage valuation and it will not provide enough information about the actual structure of the property for you to be able to rely on it.

6. Instruct a Solicitor or Conveyancer

You can find a property solicitor or conveyancer by doing some research on the internet, through recommendation or by visiting your local high street solicitor’s office. You should instruct a solicitor or conveyancer to represent you during the conveyancing process once the offer is made on the property.

7. Get your Documents signed

Getting your documents signed on time is crucial to ensure the smooth running of your home buying process. Do not leave it until the last minute! The contract, transfer, stamp duty land tax form and mortgage deed should all be signed in good time before exchange/completion. Your conveyancer will advise you on whether there are any other documents to sign but these are the main ones.

8. Arranging your Finances

If you are buying with a mortgage you will still have to provide part of the purchase price from your own funds since it is highly unlikely you will get a 100% mortgage. Remember, for money laundering requirements, your conveyancer will ask you to provide evidence of the source of your funds so make sure you keep hold of bank statements and paying in slips etc. where applicable.   Make sure you organise yourself well so that your funds are readily accessible and can be transferred into your solicitor’s account as soon as the parties are ready to exchange/complete.

9. Practical steps once you are about to complete

  • Book a removal company (you will need to give them  adequate notice so perhaps do this one contracts have been exchanged)
  • Take out Buildings and Contents Insurance on the Property where applicable.
  • Make arrangements to collect the keys for when completion has taken place (usually from the estate agents office)
  • Notify utility companies that you are going to be the new owner
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