Buying a property is one of the biggest decisions a person can ever make. Below, we have put together the following guide with important information about the process of buying a property in England and Wales and what you will need to consider.
Guide to buying a property
1. Set realistic timescales
When you have a property to purchase and have negotiated a price with the seller, a typical house purchase will take roughly six to eight weeks to complete.
This is only an estimate and will depend on the speed of any chain, terms of the mortgage offer and the complexity of the title of the property.
2. Work out your finances
You will need to work out the budget you have to purchase the new property and how you will be paying the purchase price. If you require a mortgage for your property purchase, apply for this with your chosen lender. If you are also selling a property and intend to transfer or port your existing mortgage to your new property, you will need to obtain a new mortgage offer as this does not take place automatically.
If you are purchasing the property using cash savings, or money tied up in stocks and shares it is vital to ensure that the money is available for instant access.
3. Instruct a conveyancer/solicitor
When considering quotes from conveyancers/solicitors, look for firms with the conveyancing quality logo (see right) – this means they are conveyancing specialists accredited by the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme.
Once you have instructed your conveyancer/solicitor, they will perform checks on the property, including Local Authority searches, boundaries and any planning or building regulations certificates. They will prepare a report on the property’s title, and liaise with the seller over issues such as fixtures and fittings.
At this stage you will need to complete and return relevant financial information forms to progress your property purchase. Throughout the process, in order to avoid any delays, it is advisable that you return any documents as quickly as possible.
4. Property survey and buildings insurance
It is always recommended to obtain an independent survey to check the state and condition of the property you are buying. If you have a mortgage, your lender will obtain a valuation but this will not give you any guarantee about the property’s condition.
You should also arrange buildings insurance to be in place from exchange of contracts. Make enquiries at an early stage, not only to find the most competitive quote but also to obtain insurance that is most suitable to your circumstances and the property you are buying.
If you are buying a leasehold property (generally this applies to flats), it is likely that buildings insurance will be provided by the landlord.
5. Exchange of contracts
After all title checks, searches, enquiries, surveys and financial arrangements are in order, you will be ready to become legally bound to the property purchase. You will now be ready to start thinking about the completion (moving) date.
In readiness for this, your conveyancer/solicitor will have obtained your signature to the contract and will also have agreed a completion date with your seller. Signing the contract in advance has no legal effect – it is not until the seller and buyer exchange their duplicate signed contracts through their solicitors/conveyancers that the transaction becomes legally binding.
At exchange of contracts, the buyer is required to pay a deposit. This must be paid through the solicitors/conveyancers and not directly to the seller – this is a requirement of money laundering regulations which protect against fraud.
If your purchase cannot complete due to the seller’s default, you are entitled to your deposit back. If you pull out of the sale after exchange of contracts, you will lose your deposit paid to the seller.
It is important not to make any firm plans to move in, for delivery of items or to give notice on any rented accommodation until contracts have been exchanged and a completion (moving) date is fixed.
6. Completion (moving date)
The completion date is the date on which the funds will be transferred to the seller and the keys will be given to the buyer. The money will have been collected in from you prior to the date of completion and the mortgage advance will be requested from your mortgage lender before this date.
The balance monies are sent to the seller’s solicitors. When the money arrives at the seller’s solicitor’s bank, the matter legally completes and you are entitled to move into the property. This is usually at mid-day.
If the seller is vacating the property on the day of completion and is using the sale money to buy another property, please note that there may be a delay in the keys being handed over which you will need to bear in mind, but this should not be delayed beyond mid-afternoon.
The seller must remove all belongings and refuse from the property but you may have to exercise some tolerance here. If you have concerns that the property will not be properly cleared by the seller, we advise making your solicitor/conveyancer aware of your concerns as soon as possible and definitely prior to the exchange of contracts.
How can Nelsons help?