Before you start searching for your first/next property, it is very important that you know how much you can spend. The best thing to do is speak to an independent financial advisor who has access to the entire marketplace. This way they can shop around to get you the best deal. Many buyers make the mistake of only going to their bank and often miss out on the best deal available to them. It is also important to remember that you will need to have additional funds to cover other expenses such as stamp duty, legal costs and removals.
When you decide to start searching for a property, you need to focus on what you really want. One of the most helpful ways to do this is to draw two columns with two headings; ‘Essential’ and ‘Would Like’. You can then fill each column with relevant factors, you may find that these change during the course of your search and you compromise on things you thought you wouldn’t be able to live without. One other thing to consider is the amount of work you would be willing to do on a property, are you open to building an extension or converting a loft (you will need to ensure you obtain the right permissions and approvals) or are you only looking to do minor cosmetic work such as painting?
In such a competitive market and where properties are in such short supply it is important that you register with estate agents rather than just look online. If you see a property online, it may be too late. It is always a good idea to pop into the high-street agents so they can put a face to the name, this combined with regular contact will ensure that they think of you first when a new property comes to market, in some instances they will even be able to get you through the front door of a property that is not quite on the market yet.
It is also important that you give the negotiator as much detail as possible for what you are looking for, inform them of what is on your ‘Essentials’ list and what you may be willing to compromise on.
It is important that you view something as soon as you possibly can, chances are that if you are attracted to a property, somebody else will be too. We normally have keys for properties that we are selling and will try to be as flexible as possible with viewings but it is always wise to give us a selection of times where you would be available to view.
Here at Kings, we always accompany viewings. This way an agent is on hand to answer any question you may have, whether it be about the property itself, the rental yield it may achieve or the surrounding areas, we are the local experts. If the property is a flat, you should always find out if it is leasehold or share of freehold as you would also need to ask the lease length, service charge and ground rent information.
We would urge you to make your offer as soon as you are certain that it is a property you really want to proceed with however, try not to delay as there may be other interested buyers too. We would require your offer to be submitted in writing and it must outline your offer price, financial details and buying position and have your mortgage in principle attached. We would also like you to speak to our independent financial advisor (you are not obliged to use them) to confirm your position so we can put your fully qualified offer forwards to our sellers with confidence.
Congratulations! This is the first step to owning your new property, but the work doesn’t stop here. We will write to all parties and both sets of solicitors in a document called the ‘memorandum of sale’. This introduces the solicitors to each other and will also offer estimated exchange dates. It is important that your financial advisor submits your mortgage application to avoid delay. If you do not have any solicitors that you know of we are more than happy to recommend a selection to you, you are by no means obliged to use them though. We would always advise that you use a local solicitor as opposed to a ‘call centre’ type. Whilst the ‘call centre’ conveyancers can be cheaper they may not be able to help with certain aspects of the sale; after all, if you were going sky diving you wouldn’t buy the cheapest parachute on the market, would you? You would pay a little more for the reliable one that gets the job done properly and efficiently.
When buying with a mortgage you will be required to have a mortgage valuation conducted. This is so the mortgage lender can ensure their investment is safe. If you require a Homebuyers or Buildings Survey to be carried out, let your financial advisor know and they should be able to do that at the same time as the mortgage valuation. Alternatively, you could get an independent surveyor to carry out the Homebuyers or Buildings Survey. It is important to instruct a survey as soon as possible.
Once the Memorandum of Sale has been received by both side’s solicitors, the conveyancing process will start. You will be required to put them in funds so they can apply for searches and start working on your behalf. They will also raise enquiries for the seller and their solicitor to answer. If you are purchasing a leasehold property, your solicitor will confirm with them the lease details including service charge, ground rent and if there are any planned works.
When both side’s solicitors are satisfied, they will draw up a draft contract and your solicitor will send you a report outlining anything of importance or any agreements. If you are happy, you will be asked to sign and return the contracts and transfer your deposit to your solicitor in preparation for exchanging.
By this point your solicitor will be in receipt of your signed contract, deposit and the fully signed mortgage offer sent through from your mortgage lender. Once this is the case the solicitors will ‘exchange’ which means that the transaction is now legally binding and a completion date will be set.
The balance of funds will be sent over to the vendor’s solicitor and you now become the now legal owner of the property. Congratulations! We will give you a ring to let you know that you are now free to collect your keys!