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Buying a house doesn’t happen overnight, whether you are a first-time buyer or you’ve done this all before, it can be quite an undertaking. Once you’ve found your ideal home and had an offer accepted, you’ll need to know what happens next to ensure a smooth transaction and avoid unnecessary stress.

 

From the moment an offer gets accepted, it usually takes between 8-12 weeks for the sale to complete. However, it can take anywhere between six weeks, and eight months, In some cases, it could be even longer. Having a good understanding of the home buying process can give you an advantage and help you speed things up. To provide you with an idea of what to expect, we have compiled 14 steps of the typical home buying process to help you on your journey to a new home.

Note: These steps might vary in order depending on factors affecting your purchase. This article is for information only and illustrates a typical example. Every transaction faces unique circumstances. You should always obtain advice from the relevant professionals. 

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  1. The Search

When buying a home, it must be right for you, so ensure you do your research. Drill down into what you want, and make sure you consider your lifestyle as much as possible. When you find some potential candidates, visit the area and have a walk around to see what’s about. Check out the shops, restaurants, and schools and create short-lists, write pros and cons and rate your options. Remember this is probably the biggest purchase of your life so far, so it’s crucial you get it right. Our house viewing guide can help you to compare the houses you’ve seen and get a better idea of what you want.

  1. Make an offer

When you have found your ideal home, you will want to make an offer. Before making your offer, look around the area to see what other, similar properties have sold for, and ensure the listed price is reasonable. Rightmove is a good source for this kind of information. Then you need to consider what essential works might be required if you buy the property and include these in your calculations.

Other things to consider include; how long the property has been on the market, and why the vendor is selling; these are factors that could indicate if the seller is willing to accept a lower offer than the list price.

This stage is all about using good judgement and making sure you consider all the relevant factors. Remember if your surveyor finds any issues during the survey, you can always go back and re-negotiate after an offer has been accepted. However, consider that the sellers might reject a revised offer.

  1. Offer Accepted – Time to celebrate?

It’s always exciting to hear that your offer has been accepted, your strategy proved effective and the sellers are happy to accept. However, there is still plenty of work to do.

House purchases are complex, and there are a lot of legalities involved. When you are purchasing a building, you need to ensure what you’re getting is worth what you are paying, and the property itself is structurally sound. You should start to think about getting a survey carried out by a Chartered Surveyor. You would usually have a homebuyers report or building survey depending on the circumstances surrounding the property.  Your lender will probably want to make similar checks for their benefit, and so once its offer accepted, that’s when the real work starts.

Note: One thing you need to look out for once your offer has been accepted is falling victim to gazumping. Gazumping is always a risk right up until exchange of contract. This is where somebody offers more money, and the seller accepts despite already accepting your offer. To mitigate the risk of this happening, ask the seller to remove the property from the market and all online portals as a condition of your offer.

  1. Look around for different mortgage products

When you start looking for a property, you will likely get an AIP (agreement in principle) from a mortgage provider. These usually last between 30 – 90 days depending on the lender. If your AIP has expired, don’t worry, it’s likely to be agreed again as long as nothing has changed with your circumstances.

Now your offer has been accepted you’ll know exactly how much you need, and so you can shop around for the mortgage which is best for you. You don’t have to go with the lender who gave you the AIP. Always remember that this is one of the most significant financial decisions you will ever make, so it’s essential you are happy.

  1. Instruct an independent surveyor

When buying a property, you must instruct an independent surveyor to ensure that the property is structurally sound, and you don’t inherit any expensive problems. Depending on which survey you choose the surveyor can also value the property, giving you peace of mind that you are paying a reasonable price.

Make sure you get a quote from ourselves and speak to us about your requirements.

Typically a buyer would instruct a surveyor to carry out an RICS Homebuyers Report or Building Survey.

A distinction must be made between the Mortgage Valuation your lender will carry out, which is for their benefit, and an independent RICS survey, which is for your benefit. A mortgage valuation is a survey the lender carries out to ensure that the property is sufficient security for the money they are lending against it. They want to know that they could recover the loss if you defaulted on payments and they had to repossess it from you. In other words, it’s to protect their interests, not yours.

A survey from an independent RICS surveyor will give you an overall opinion about the condition of the property and individual elements that need attention. In an RICS homebuyer report we can provide an independent market valuation, so you know you are paying a reasonable price. In the case of a full Building Survey, a very in-depth rundown of structural issues and costing will be provided which can be used to renegotiate the purchase price if necessary.

An independent survey can save you thousands in repair costs. According to the RICS, the average cost of repairs when moving into a new property is £5,750, in most cases due to not getting a survey before going ahead with the purchase. Remember, a property doesn’t come with a guarantee; you alone are responsible and take the full risk. Make sure you get the seal of approval from an independent surveyor.

The surveyor you instruct should be RICS regulated, as well as the company that employs them. Cosey Homes are fully RICS regulated, along with all the surveyors we employ. Our pool of surveyors includes Assoc RICS, MRICS and FRICS members who are the most qualified professionals in the industry.

  1. Instruct a solicitor

You need to instruct a solicitor to start the conveyancing process. Conveyancing is the process solicitors are responsible for, and it comprises transferring the ownership of a property from one person to another.

When choosing a solicitor, get recommendations and look at online reviews. The conveyancing process can be responsible for how quickly the sale progresses, so you’ll want a company that has a good reputation.

  1. Mortgage checks

Once you are at this stage, your mortgage lender will turn your AIP into a full application for a loan by starting the official checks. The lender will check whether you are suitable to lend the amount of money requested. This will be an in-depth look at your finances, where they will ask for bank statements and payslips, as well as checking your credit rating and affordability. A lender who gave you an AIP may reject your full application. If this happens, it is advised you contact a mortgage advisor to search for products you can get. It is always advised to consult a mortgage advisor before applying for a mortgage.

Note: Don’t make more applications without knowing if you’ll be accepted. Your credit rating might be damaged every time you make an application.

Once your application has been accepted, the lender will visit the property to carry out a mortgage valuation. They do this to create a loan-to-value ratio which they use to assess the mortgage they have offered you. It’s all about risk and how much risk they are willing to take.

All lenders have their own rules about this process and what kinds of properties they will mortgage. So, it’s worth checking with them if the house you want to buy is a little unconventional.

Note: Some mortgage products include the valuation for free, some charge for the service. Usually, this costs around £300.

  1. Searches and other checks by the solicitor

Once you have instructed a solicitor and your mortgage application is underway the solicitor will start the searches, these will include things like;

There are usually administration charges associated with these searches which can be around £250

As well as the searches, your solicitor and the seller’s solicitor will draft up the contracts. Your solicitor will raise queries with the seller. The seller will have to fill in paperwork to declare the finer details about the property and state what’s included and what isn’t.

Simultaneously, your solicitor may ask you for bank statements to prove you can pay the deposit. They will also enquire with the bank to check the mortgage is ready to draw down funds once your mortgage has been accepted.

Tip: Chase up your solicitors for updates frequently to ensure things move forward at a reasonable pace.

  1. Mortgage offer

Once the mortgage valuation has gone ahead, you should expect to hear back from your lender with a confirmed mortgage offer. This is when the lender has confirmed they are happy to lend you the amount you have requested against the house you are buying.

When you receive this, you must check all the details are correct. Any incorrect information could cause problems and hold things up. Read through the offer carefully, and if you find anything which isn’t right, you need to talk to the lender immediately before you move forward.

Getting the mortgage offer is a significant milestone as this is possibly the final hurdle that could scupper the transaction. Once you have the mortgage offer, nothing is stopping the sale from completing unless one of the parties drops out.

  1. Signing the contract

Once everything is in place, you are happy with the survey and the finance is ready, your solicitor will send you the contracts to read over and check. The contracts involved are quite a large bundle of documents, but you must read through it all and ensure you are happy with everything. If there is anything, you don’t understand you should ask your solicitor. Your solicitor will highlight anything that needs your attention and call you to ensure you understand the implications of anything unusual. However, it is still your responsibility to make sure you read through and understand the contract thoroughly. Once you are happy and sign the documents, your solicitor will get them ready to exchange with the seller’s solicitor.

From here on the purchase is managed by the solicitors on both sides. Within the contract, they will usually agree on a date for completion. They will let you know what this is and work towards this date; however, this might change.

  1. Pay the deposit

At this point, everything is ready to move onto the exchange and then completion. The solicitor is likely to ask for you to transfer the deposit into their client account, so it is ready for completion.

The point you pay the deposit will vary depending on the solicitor and the type of property you are buying, but some may ask for it before the exchange of contracts.

  1. Exchange of contracts

Exchange of contracts is where solicitors on both sides ensure the contracts signed by the buyer and seller are the same and exchange them. At this point, both parties are committed to the purchase. If you backed out now, you would be liable to pay the agreed deposit. If you have already paid the deposit, you will not get it back. If the seller backs out, you could take legal action against them.

  1. Completion

To get ready for completion, your solicitor will draw down the funds from your lender ready to pay for the house in full.

In addition to this, they will apply with the HM land registry to freeze the deeds for them to be transferred to yourself.

Completion usually happens on a Friday and can come with its complications if you are involved in a chain. Delays are typical as chains need to complete in order, and the keys might only be released once the entire chain has completed.

  1. Moving day

Moving day is all about being prepared to ensure everything flows smoothly. Also, being prepared can save you a lot of money. Moving day can be complicated if you are in a chain. for more information about moving read our moving day guide.

Disclaimer

The material contained in this article is intended for information purposes only and not as advice. We take no responsibility for the result of any actions you take as a result of reading this information.

You should always obtain professional legal or other advice if you are unsure about the effect on you of any matter in this article.

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