Buying Guide

Step 1. Arranging your mortgage and other costs

Finding the right mortgage to suit your own circumstances can be daunting, with so many lenders, schemes and rates available, where do you start? Unless you’re really sure on what you’re doing, seek advice from an independent financial adviser. Do your homework. Find out both the short and long term implications of the mortgage product you’re considering, and work out your budget. If you have a home to sell, get at least 3 valuations from different estate agents to give you an idea of what your property is worth. Get a mortgage agreement in principle to enable you to move quickly if need be. Estate agents will look more favourably on prospective purchasers who already have a mortgage agreement in place.

Step 2. Register your interest

Visit estate agents in and around the area you wish to move to. You should register your requirements with them and be put on their mailing lists. The more detailed the information you give to them about the property you want and your budget, the higher the likelihood that the properties they offer you will be of interest. Once you’re registered, they should then send out details of relevant properties to you. You can also search for properties in the local property press and on the internet using property portals like Zoopla and Prime Location.

Step 3. Finding the right property

Make yourself comfortable with a glass (or a bottle) of your favourite tipple and a notepad and pen. Think about your ideal property and write a list of the 'Must Haves' and the 'Nice to Haves' and - probably most importantly - 'Definitely Don't Wants'. This can help you in deciding on which properties to view and tallying up scores for each of the properties you visit, and more importantly will give you a good list of dealbreakers so nobody’s time is wasted viewing unsuitable properties.

Step 4. Making an offer

Once you have found your ideal property you should make an offer to the agent on how much you are willing to pay. It's important not to be over enthusiastic at this stage and you must always have in mind how much you can realistically afford based on the mortgage calculations, any equity you may have in an existing property and most importantly you need to factor in all the other costs involved that we’ve already discussed above. Once the vendor has accepted your offer you should instruct a solicitor to start the buying process. If you don’t already have a conveyancer or solicitor in mind, we can recommend one to you.

Step 5. Offer agreed

Your appointed solicitor will be working in the background pushing the conveyancing process forward. Some of this work will include ordering searches, raising enquiries and drafting the final contracts up. This is a very important stage in the buying process as if these works are not completed you cannot move forward on to the final stage. Our experienced negotiators will be making regular phone calls to your solicitor pushing on your behalf.

Step 6. Conveyancing

This is the legal term for the transfer of ownership of the home from one party to another. It is usually undertaken by both yours and the vendor’s solicitors and involves (amongst other things) ensuring that the vendor has the legal right to sell the property, checking that no-one has right of way through it and that there are no land disputes or that any lien on the property is satisfied prior to sale.

Your solicitor should carry out the following:

Liaise with the vendor’s solicitor and obtain Draft Contracts, these are drawn up by the vendor's solicitor. It will answer some initial questions regarding the property i.e. what is remaining in the property, where the boundaries are and what is included as part of the sale. Once results of the Land Registry Search and Local Authority Search have come back and any queries regarding the property have been answered, the draft contracts are approved by your solicitor. More details on these searches are below:

Mortgage Offer

This is important, without a formal mortgage offer you cannot proceed unless you are a cash buyer. The offer will be sent to your solicitor for your signature and approval.

Local Authority Search

Your solicitor will submit a Local Authority Search to the local council that you will pay a fee for. This is important as it will highlight any potential issues regarding the property such as planning permission and any other local issues such as potential developments in the area.

Registry Search

This gives you information on the following aspects of the property you are about to buy including:

  • A description of the property
  • Who owns the property
  • If the property has a mortgage
  • Previous purchase price (if registered since 1st April 2000)
  • Any rights of way
  • Any other conditions or restrictions such as restrictive covenants.

Step 7. Survey and mortgage offer

Unless you are a cash buyer, this is normally the time to apply for your mortgage with your financial advisor or lender. Depending on the type of house you are buying, your lender may require more than just a mortgage valuation.

A homebuyer's survey is a more in-depth report and may highlight more potential problems that you may otherwise be unaware of. You may also choose to undertake a full structural survey although this is usually on a more period property, a property of non-standard construction or where there is a history of subsidence in the area or underground works e.g. mining. Any issues highlighted may either affect the lenders ability to offer a mortgage in its entirety or impose special conditions on the mortgage offer. The survey may also highlight any expensive problems to you before you purchase the property.

You also should also obtain buildings and contents insurance for your new home which need to be in place from date of completion.

Step 8. Exchange of contracts

Be warned. Up until this point, either party can withdraw from the sale without financial loss. When your Solicitor has received satisfactory replies to all their enquiries, a completed satisfactory local search, a copy of a mortgage offer, a signed contract and the deposit is paid (usually 5-10%), they can then proceed to exchange of contracts. From this point the seller and buyer are legally committed to the deal so if the buyer pulls out for whatever reason they lose their deposit.

The sales contract is signed by both you and the vendor and the deposit is transferred or paid by your solicitor to the vendor's solicitor. At that point the date is then set for completion. This can be pretty much straight away (called a Sim – simultaneous exchange and completion) or up to 28 days later depending on your requirements.

Step 9. Completion

Completion is the formal process of transferring the balance of monies due from the vendor’s solicitor to the seller’s solicitor. This process will be dependent on your circumstances and any other parties involved in the buying chain. Once the monies have been received you can collect the keys and you are the legal owner of your new home.

As the buyer of the property, you are responsible for completing the land transaction return and paying the stamp duty however in practice, your solicitor will usually handle this for you and send it to HMRC on your behalf. You should however check that all the information on the form is correct and complete before signing the declaration.

Step 10. Moving in

Congratulations! You are now the proud owners of a lovely new home. Things to consider for the transfer from your old property to your new pad:

  • Arrange to get your mail re-directed. Application forms for a minimum of 6 months re-direction service are available from your local post office, or you can do it online.
  • Inform your bank, building society, credit card company, any magazine subscriptions, insurance companies, Inland Revenue, employer, Council Tax office and DVLA of your change of address. Not forgetting your doctor, dentist, optician and the children's schools.
  • Advise friends, relatives and – of course – sort out your house warming party!
  • Read meters and inform the utilities of your move.
  • Call your telephone company and disconnect you land line.
  • Arrange supplies to your new home - electricity, gas, oil, telephone, mobile phone provider, satellite/cable provider and newspapers - providing written instructions on dates.
  • If you have kitchen appliances that require professional re-connection, make arrangements for the appropriate electrician, plumber or fitter to call on moving day or the day after if possible.
  • Pets can get in the way on removal day - consider booking them into the kennels/cattery for a couple of days either side of the move.
  • Defrost your refrigerator and freezer in good time for the move. Once in place in your new property, leave the gases to settle for 24 hours before switching them back on.
  • Confirm moving date with the removal company.

We will provide you with a welcome pack providing you with everything you need to know, from the location of gas and electricity meters, mains water stopcocks, local authority details, waste collection day etc.

Disclaimer: This information is provided as a guide only and may not reflect your individual circumstances. You should obtain professional advice when buying or selling a property and Pine Estates accept no liability if you rely on the content of this guide and do not obtain professional advice.