While the housing market in the United Kingdom is continually changing, the process of buying a home does not.
Whether you’re making your first steps onto the housing ladder or not, it’s always a big financial commitment that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
A property buyer should expect the acquisition process to take three months on average. You may see several homes during this stage and collaborate with estate agents, solicitors, and surveyors before receiving the keys.
Buyers must go through a number of stages before getting their dream home, from mortgage appraisals through conveyancing.
While purchasing a new house in the United Kingdom might be time-consuming, if you go into it with a thorough grasp of the process, you can guarantee that your transaction goes as easily as possible. Furthermore, understanding the property specialists that can assist you may undoubtedly speed up the house-buying process and make your life easier.
We’ve put together an exhaustive guide to what to expect during your house purchase to make things easier for you. We’ll walk you through the entire process of purchasing a home here.
- Before you start looking for a home, learn about the expenditures.
Prospective purchasers should have a clear notion of how much the entire procedure will cost before they begin looking into it.
Aside from the deposit and subsequent mortgage payments, you’ll also have to pay stamp duty, solicitor costs, and property insurance. Furthermore, when you finally get your hands on the keys, you don’t want to forget about the tiny details like paying for a removal service.
You can ensure you have enough money left over to cover the deposit if you have an idea of all the additional prices and fees you should expect to spend. A government-backed mortgage scheme launched this year allows first-time buyers to jump on the housing ladder with just a 5% deposit.
Assuming you have saved at least 5% of the purchase price of a property, you should investigate how much you will be able to borrow.
You can acquire an unofficial range using certain free internet tools, such as Money Saving Expert’s calculator. However, we suggest that you speak with a mortgage professional and contemplate a Mortgage Agreement in Principle (AIP).
An AIP might help you stand out as a buyer because it indicates that a lender has checked your credit and given you an estimate of how much they’d lend. It’s not a guarantee, but it shows sellers that you’re serious about finding a home. Arranging an AIP now can assist speed up the procedure later.
Before agreeing to a mortgage, keep in mind that lenders will require you to take a mortgage stress test. The stress test, which was implemented by the government following the 2008 financial crisis, ensures that borrowers can continue to pay their mortgage and other expenses even if interest rates rise. It finally relies on a higher mortgage rate scenario to determine your repayment reliability. While there is no such thing as a “exam,” your mortgage lender will ask you a series of questions to see if you pass.
- Recognize the most effective methods for performing a home search.
The first step in purchasing a home is to perform a search. This one may seem self-evident, but keep in mind that there are various solutions open to you.
The bulk of purchasers nowadays will turn to online marketplaces like RightMove or Zoopla. They’re simple websites that let you refine your search, compare housing prices, and evaluate other factors like school catchment regions and railway station distances.
According to RightMove, the internet portal had its best month ever in 2021, with over 221 million unique visitors.
It’s worth noting, though, that most estate brokers are aware of properties before they’re published online. So, to be ahead of the game, register with a few estate agents. Furthermore, utilising an estate agent with local experience will provide you with a better understanding of the locality as well as other key variables that you might overlook if you rely simply on property listings online.
A house auction is another option you could have considered. Though low rates are enticing, this technique is fraught with dangers, particularly if you don’t have time to conduct a study beforehand. If you’re a first-time buyer with no prior home-buying experience, this risk can be amplified.
- Do your homework and go to open houses.
The housing market in the United Kingdom has long been in short supply, which means that certain local markets will have far more potential buyers than sellers. This should not, however, prevent you from going out and looking at properties while also making sure to ask the crucial questions.
Knowing how much similar properties have sold for and how long a house has been on the market can be a smart place to start your investigation. Zoopla is an excellent tool for researching past sales prices and estimating current open market values.
Furthermore, checking electrical connections and the boiler are easy things you should do at every viewing to avoid any unpleasant shocks later on. Consider visiting the house at different times of the day to get a better sense of how noisy the rush hour traffic is.
During a screening, make sure to ask the following questions:
So far, how many individuals have looked at the property?
What is the homeowner’s motivation for selling now?
How long has the seller been a resident of this home?
What is the house’s history, and how many owners has it had? Any noteworthy incidents?
What is the difference between a leasehold and a freehold property?
You should also know the difference between buying a freehold or leasehold home at this point in your search. You own the building and the land it’s constructed on with a freehold property. In a leasehold deal, however, you only own the lease from the freeholder.
When it comes to houses, freeholds are nearly usually the better option, and the majority of houses are sold as such. Some new-build estates, on the other hand, are marketed as leasehold, and shared ownership plans are frequently sold as leasehold.
In the case of flats, the opposite is true: most flats are sold leasehold. This is because a single party, the freeholder, must control the building that houses each of the individual flats in order to oversee common endeavours like communal area maintenance and building renovations.
A leasehold will come with particular terms that must be followed by the leaseholder. Maintenance costs, service charges, and ground rent are common examples. It may also require the leaseholder to obtain approval before making any improvements to the property, or restrict certain items from being allowed to live there, such as dogs. When purchasing a leasehold property, be sure to read the terms thoroughly.
Leases are often for a considerable period of time, such as 90 or 120 years, although they can be considerably longer. Fewer than a 90-year lease can become problematic, and less than 80-year leases should be carefully studied before purchasing.
Leasehold flat owners typically have legal protections that allow them to extend their lease by 90 years (if certain criteria are met), and anyone considering purchasing a leasehold flat with a lease term of less than 80 years would typically demand that the current leaseholder extend it before the sale is completed.
Extending leaseholds on homes is a more difficult task. If you’re thinking about buying a leasehold home, you should seek specific legal counsel first to ensure you’re completely informed.
Leaseholders can get more information on the.gov website, which provides official information for leaseholders.
- Have you found your ideal home? Take a stroll!
Researching the neighbourhood is just as important as going to a house showing, and it can give you a decent picture of what it’s like to live there.
Your first port of call should be your neighbours, as they may be able to provide you with further information about the property and the surrounding neighbourhood. Furthermore, it could indicate whether or not they are a compatible neighbour or if there are any issues.
Then venture out into the neighbourhood to check out the nearby parks, schools, and even parking choices. Is the high street looking run-down to you? Are the parks kept up to date? Also consider whether you can see yourself fitting into the region.
Furthermore, keep an eye out for any construction sites and visit the Government website to learn about any proposed constructions that require planning approval. After all, you don’t want to move in only to find that your yard is shaded by a new tower of flats.
External elements in your neighbourhood can also influence your mortgage alternatives.
Before obtaining a mortgage for a home in a flood risk zone, you may be required to pay a greater deposit and obtain flood insurance. According to the Environment Agency, one out of every six homes in England is now at risk of flooding.
Fortunately, there is growing support for homeowners who live in flood-prone areas. Find out how to keep your premiums low by visiting Flood Re.
- Making an offer on a home in the United Kingdom
You’ve reached the first major stumbling block in the home-buying process. If you’ve found your dream house, determined that the neighbourhood is ideal, and completed all necessary inspections, it’s time to make an offer.
However, keep in mind that this is still a negotiation and that other purchasers may be interested in the home as well. Furthermore, this arrangement is still not legally binding.
When it comes to placing an offer on a home, most buyers will tell the real estate agent how much they’re willing to put down. To clarify your offer and move-in details, you can contact the estate agent by phone or email. The estate agent will then forward the offers to the seller, who will have the option to accept or reject them.
As previously stated, several local UK markets are seeing a higher number of buyers than sellers. As a result, recent Land Registry data revealed that more than a third of homes actually sold for or above their asking price.
While this may sound worrisome, purchasers should consider carefully what offer they want to make. It might be a good idea to look into what offers are being accepted for other residences in the region. Furthermore, coming in under the asking price is acceptable, but expect to negotiate.
6.How to Begin a Mortgage Appraisal for a New Home
While some of the early steps of buying a house may appear self-evident, we now focus on the legal and financial sides of the process.
You must now proceed with your mortgage application after your offer has been accepted. If you’ve already decided on an AIP, this stage may be a little easier. This is where purchasers who don’t have an AIP can find a lender.
Many house buyers hire a mortgage broker to assist them obtain the best deal possible. It is also feasible to find a mortgage on your own, which is referred to as a ‘execution only mortgage.’
While both strategies have advantages, engaging with a broker who understands the market will provide you with greater protection. Although it may cost you up to £500, a broker can save you time and money by securing a low-interest rate on your behalf. They’ll also know whether or not your mortgage application will be accepted in the first place, as well as what a lender is looking for.
According to a survey, 17 percent of house sales in the UK fell through due to a buyer’s inability to acquire a mortgage. With this in mind, having a professional on your side is a good idea.
You’ll need six months of bank statements, proof of employment, and identification to apply for a mortgage. The property will also undergo a mortgage valuation as part of the application procedure to check if the lender values the property in line with the sales price.
A mortgage valuation does not always have to be done in person. Many people will evaluate online data before deciding whether or not an in-person visit is required. Lenders may charge for this service (ranging from £250 to £1,500 depending on the type and price of the property) or provide it for free to attract new clients. It’s also crucial to understand that a mortgage valuation differs from a home inspection (more on that below!)
A mortgage application can take up to six weeks to process. You can now proceed to the next stage of the transaction after receiving an official mortgage offer and accepting it.
- Do I require a property survey to identify any issues?
While it may seem strange to conduct a survey after submitting an offer, keep in mind that the sale is still not binding. The house does not technically become yours until the contracts are transferred later. However, there are still certain duties to accomplish before that.
When the mortgage application is in the works, you should also schedule a property survey with a professional building surveyor.
The survey can assist discover any flaws that could lower the property’s value or require costly repairs in the future, such as rot, subsidence, or electrical wiring problems.
Furthermore, the technology available to property surveyors is continually evolving. Buyers may obtain a lot of information about a house thanks to services like AI and BIM. We recommend researching your alternatives and remembering that a survey could save you thousands of pounds in the long term.
IMPORTANT: A property survey is for the benefit of the buyer and is not the same as a mortgage valuation.
Buyers can choose from three different types of surveys, each with different prices:
Situation Report This is the lowest and most basic option available to a house buyer, often known as the Home Survey Level 1 report. The surveyor will be able to tell you whether the house has any severe problems and will also give you a broad review of the property.
This is the least expensive of the three, yet it can cost up to £350.
Report for Homebuyers For a home that is less than 50 years old, the Home Survey Level 2 is the usual option. It will go into further depth and give the buyer advice on how to preserve the home in the future. The survey will also reveal any faults that may damage the house’s value. A homebuyer report might cost up to £400.
Building Inspection The largest of the three is often designated for older (over 50 years old) and distinctive structures. A surveyor will look over the entire property (including under the floors) for any structural issues.
Prices vary by house, but are often £700 and up.
When purchasing a home, a property survey is not required by law. However, there are numerous advantages to having one done. First and foremost, they can save you money in the long run by estimating how much you will need to spend on repairs.
- When buying a home, why do you need a conveyancer?
A conveyancer will now be required to handle the legal aspects of the home purchase. The estate agent will normally generate a memorandum of sale within a week of your offer being accepted, which must be signed by both the buyer’s and seller’s conveyancers. This is a non-contractual agreement that confirms your offer has been accepted in writing. The last legal steps commence from here. The sale should take approximately 10-12 weeks to complete.
In a nutshell, a conveyancer is a licenced official who ensures that all of the legal documentation necessary for the sale are in order. This will entail working with the Land Registry, conducting planning permission research, paying stamp duty, and drafting and reviewing contracts.
Before making an offer on a house, you could have already employed a conveyancer. In any case, they are an important component of the home-buying process at this time.
Solicitor vs. Conveyancer?
While each representation can be used to purchase a property, there are some distinctions between them. A conveyancer is a property specialist who is licenced to handle legal issues relating to home sales and purchases. The Council for Licensed Conveyancers regulates them (CLC).
A qualified lawyer, on the other hand, is a solicitor. This means they will be able to provide more legal assistance in a variety of sectors. Their fees are typically higher than those of a conveyancer.
The conveyancer will do many inspections on your prospective property before signing the deal. They will, for example, look into local planning permissions and possibly do further environmental inspections that may effect your acquisition or offer. When it comes to the final hurdles, a conveyancer may help with everything from ensuring the house is connected to the water supply to verifying legal ownership.
They will also assist buyers who are part of a Help To Buy scheme and collaborate with the seller’s conveyancer to ensure a seamless transaction.
Leasehold Information Pack – Specifics for Purchasing a Leasehold Property
For the purchase of a leasehold property, there are several additional formalities that must be accomplished. Your conveyancer will be instrumental in acquiring the necessary paperwork in this regard.
The managing agent will request a Leasehold Information Pack once an offer has been approved and a conveyancer has been hired. Ground rent, service charges, and proposed maintenance work are all detailed in this vital document. If you’re buying an apartment, the freeholder must also present the block buildings insurance coverage to your conveyancer.
Purchasing a leasehold property will take longer due to the additional checks that must be completed. As a result, your conveyancing price will almost always be higher.
A conveyancer’s services are, of course, a vital component of the house-buying process, and one of the payments you should have budgeted for from the outset. Although expenses vary, a $1,000 budget for a conveyancer is a fair starting point.
Should I use the conveyancer my estate agent recommends or select my own?
Most estate agencies have professional links with conveyancers and will offer to direct customers to one of their network of conveyancers.
Finding your own conveyancer, on the other hand, often has additional advantages. To begin, shop around and acquire quotations to see if you can locate a cheaper solution.
Second, your estate agent’s conveyancer may not offer a fully digital solution, such as an online self-service portal for document uploading, virtual ID verification, and digital document signing. Finding a conveyancer who offers this service can save you a lot of time and effort, as well as shorten the time it takes to exchange contracts.
- Why is it vital to get home insurance before selling your house?
When purchasing a property, you must also prepare for home insurance coverage prior to exchanging contracts, so that the policy is in effect from the time the transaction is completed. Not only will you be insured from the minute the property is legally yours, but most mortgage lenders will require you to have a home insurance policy in place before they will release the cash.
It also means you have some flexibility to get out of the deal if you can’t locate any insurers willing to provide you a policy or if you discover you can’t afford the insurance.
When it comes to finding the best house insurance for you, you have a lot of alternatives. Several price comparison websites will be able to show you the greatest deals available. You can also use the services of an insurance broker to discover the best offers or go straight to the insurance companies.
You may also wish to investigate the following types of home insurance policies:
Your mortgage lender will almost always ask that you have Buildings Insurance in place before signing the deal. This will protect you from disasters like floods and fires.
Contents insurance, as the name implies, protects the contents of your home, but it is not required.
Home Buyers’ Protection Insurance can safeguard you while you are in the process of purchasing a house. If the transaction goes through, this should pay any fees you’ve paid, such as the mortgage valuation costs, but make sure to read the fine print to understand exactly what is and isn’t covered so you can make an informed decision about whether or not to buy it.
Buying a house and signing a contract
It’s almost time to pop the bubbly if you’ve made it this far.
The legal representatives assisting the seller and the buyer will ensure that both parties are satisfied with the sales contract. Everyone will agree on a move-in date, and you will now be required to give your deposit to your conveyancer.
They’ll run a few final checks to ensure that all of the necessary procedures have been taken. However, nothing in the house-buying process is expected to fall through at this stage.
Signing the paperwork to make the property legally yours will be the final step.
- The final stage in formally claiming a property.
The house is yours once the contracts have been exchanged and the deposit has been paid. The property’s deeds will now be transferred to your name, and you will be given the keys. Typically, your conveyancer will handle the stamp duty payment as well.
You can then clear any outstanding charges for services such as your conveyancer and begin the relocation process.