A Comprehensive 12-Step Guide to Buying a House in the UK
Buying a home is a substantial financial commitment and can be daunting – especially if you're a first-time buyer. Use our timeline to learn more about the steps to buying a home, including the process, key stages and what fees to expect.
Our helpful guide takes you step by step through the process of buying a house in the UK. Read on!
1. Be Familiar With the Costs
When determining if a home is affordable for you, consider how you will cope if your income decreases or the interest rates increase. It's crucial to avoid overextending yourself.
Bear in mind that your money will need to cover the deposit and mortgage costs (usually between £0-£2,000) and Stamp Duty.
2. Find Out How Much You Can Borrow
It's never too early to begin thinking about applying for a mortgage, as the process might be lengthy. An Independent Financial Adviser (IFA), a mortgage broker, or a lender can help you obtain a mortgage.
Once you've discovered a mortgage plan you want, you'll be offered a mortgage 'in principle' if you're accepted. This informs you of the expected amount of money the lender will offer and your pay interest rate.
You may be required to pay a booking fee to get the mortgage package you prefer. Typical price range: £99-£250
3. Partner With the Right Property Agent
Before you start viewing houses, you'll need to find a property agent. Search online for your local area and choose a property agent. Contact them to ask if they can help you to find a property. Once you've identified a property you're interested in purchasing, the following step is to make an offer, often done through an estate agent. You pay an estate agent only if you are selling your house.
Fees typically vary between 0.5 per cent and 3 per cent of the selling price, including VAT.
4. Start Looking for Property and Make an Offer
This is the fun part, but it also takes time! Once you've picked a few houses, you'd like to buy, visit them and decide which one you would like to buy. The estate agent should take photographs and write a property report detailing everything you want to know about the house. Don't worry if you don't know what to look for; the agent can answer your questions and explain what it's essential for you to know.
5. Sale Agreed
When the seller's estate agent receives the names and contact information for both parties' solicitors, they will indicate that the transaction has been accepted, subject to contract. This will be confirmed in a Memorandum of Sale.
7. Find a Conveyancer or Property Solicitor
A conveyancer or property solicitor is necessary to act on behalf of your estate to ensure that you can legally buy the property and find out about any additional costs (such as Stamp Duty) that you may be expected to pay.
Conveyancers are often less expensive than solicitors. Conveyancers merely manage the conveyancing procedure, which entails the transfer of legal ownership of property. On the other hand, solicitors manage the conveyancing procedure, deal with any subsequent complex legal issues, give specialised legal advice, and provide a comprehensive range of legal services. This is one of the reasons why solicitors' fees are significantly higher.
8. Get a Property Survey
A property survey will help you understand the current condition of the property and the possible issues that could occur in the future. Is the property structurally sound? Is it safe to live in?
A surveyor will give you a list of needed repairs and a projected cost to address them.
Inquire about a 'Building Condition Report' if there are no known issues with the property, or ask the seller if there have been any recent repairs. Make sure to obtain a statement of authorisation from the seller so that you can request a copy of the last survey.
9. Arrange Home Insurance
You must insure your new home from the day contracts are exchanged - in fact, most mortgage lenders will require this as a condition of financing. This is because you are legally obligated to purchase the property from the moment contracts are exchanged; thus, if the building floods or burns down before the day of completion (see below), you would be uninsured. If you're purchasing a newly constructed home, the insurance coverage does not have to begin until the day of completion.
10. Exchange contracts
When the legal date and time of exchange is confirmed, both solicitors will represent you and the seller at the exchange of contracts.
The seller's solicitor will hand over the seller's title to you, and you will be handed a cheque made out to the seller and a legal document, known as a 'property schedule'. This document will detail all the legal information about the property and any outstanding maintenance issues.
The buyer's solicitor will request a mortgage transfer from the existing lender to the new buyer. Usually, one mortgage is exchanged for another, and the buyer pays off the outstanding balance on their current mortgage to the new lender.
11. Start Looking for Removal Companies
Furniture, appliances and other heavy items will need to be moved to your new home. Make sure to select a reputable removals company, which can provide you with a written estimate and complete a written inventory at the start of the move.
The cost of a removal business will vary depending on the number of stuff you need to move and the distance between your current and new residences, among other factors. Once you've identified one or two businesses that interest you, check their availability before agreeing on a completion date with the seller to ensure that you can move on the agreed date.
12. Complete and Move In!
Typically, completion occurs around two weeks following exchange, although this is negotiable, and you may agree on a mutually suitable date with the seller. On completion day, the seller will get the funds, and you will be able to collect the keys from the estate agent and go into your new home. If you purchase a newly built property, the day of completion does not have to be the same as your moving date. You will be given two dates - your completion day and your moving day.
Once all the paperwork is done, it is safe to set up utilities. You will be required to sign contracts to supply utilities to your home.
You might request more information on the utility companies in your new neighbourhood, such as their customer satisfaction ratings.
Buying a home is a long and complicated process. Make sure to schedule a realistic timeline, set achievable goals and research everything along the way. Most importantly, enjoy the process!
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