Where do you start, and what exactly goes on? TheSite.org demystifies the buying process.
1. Save up as much deposit as possible. The minimum you will need is now 10% of the property value, but the more you can put down, the cheaper the rate on your mortgage will be - and the more chance you will have of being accepted by a lender.
2. Agree a mortgage in principle with a lender.
3. Find a solicitor. It's a good idea to use a local company - preferably one that specialises in property - so that you can physically go into the office if you need to. You can search for a solicitor using these criteria on the Law Society's website. Don't be afraid to negotiate a fixed price upfront for the legal work - however, bear in mind this could change if your solicitor runs into unforeseen complications.
5. When you find a place you like make an offer through the estate agent.
6. If your offer is accepted, ask for the property to be taken off the market. The vendors aren't obliged, however, until your mortgage is in place and you're deemed 'proceedable'.
7. Your solicitor obtains the deeds to the property and starts contract paperwork.
8. Arrange for survey to be carried out on the property. The lender's valuation (which you will usually have to pay for) is not a survey - it simply verifies to the bank or building society that the property is adequate security for the loan. It's advisable to have your own survey carried out by a chartered surveyor. A Homebuyer's Report is the most common option. However, if the property is listed, old or is an unusual structure a Buildings Survey (also known as structural survey) is a better idea. Find out more at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors' website.
9. If the lender's valuation comes back satisfactorily it will agree to your loan (mortgage goes ahead).
"Don't be afraid to negotiate a fixed price upfront for any legal work."
10. Survey report goes to the solicitor, who checks survey, organises a local search, finalises contract, and confirms the mortgage with the lender.
11. Give deposit to solicitor, who holds it for you.
12. Exchange of contracts and deposit between solicitors, and agreement on completion date. The timeframe between exchange and completion is usually around a month, but it can be any amount of time that all parties agree on - even the same day in some cases.
13. Sign transfer deeds (formal document that authorises the transfer of ownership) prepared by solicitor.
14. Mortgage money transferred via the solicitor. You then get the transfer deeds, Land Registry certificate, and the keys (sometimes called completion).
15. Move in to your new home.
16. Solicitor gets deeds stamped, pays stamp duty, and passes the title deeds (legal document that state who owns the property) to the mortgage lender.
17. You receive a solicitor's bill, which will include legal fees, stamp duty and land registry.
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