29th March 2019
There’s something about the spring sunshine that makes people want to revisit those plans they made at the beginning of the year and actually make them happen, by which we mean those pledges to buy their first home/bigger home/smaller home/nicer home – but it’s easier said than done.
If you’ve spent the last few weeks hibernating but now you’re ready to take those first steps toward crossing the threshold of your dream house, here are our top tips to help make it happen:
1. Work out what you can afford
It sounds obvious, but there are few things more heart-breaking than setting your sights on a property and then finding out it costs tens-of-thousands more than you’re able to pay. By working out how much you can afford to borrow, and therefore how much you can afford to spend, you can ensure you’re looking in the right price-range instead of reaching beyond your means.
The savings set aside to help you get your foot through the door will need to cover not only the deposit on the property, but expenses including mortgage fees, which can cost up to £2,000, legal costs, and Stamp Duty on properties costing more than £125,000 in England.
To help find out how much you’ll need to repay each month , make use of our mortgage calculator – be sure you’re comfortable with meeting those payments, and the rest will be a breeze.
Consider Government initiatives such as Help To Buy when doing your calculations – and if you’re looking at a new-build property, speak with the sales negotiator to find out what support the developer can offer – most developers, like ourselves, offer discounted Hot Properties on certain sites, or offer perks including paying the buyers’ stamp duty to make the process as smooth as possible.
2. Make your offer
With a brand new property, there is the advantage of ‘no chain’ – providing you can meet the asking price, you can be in your home in as little as four weeks, but if you’re buying a property from a private seller, you’ll need to factor in their plans: Have they chosen their next home? Do they have a timescale to adhere to, or are they ready to move as quickly as you can? There is more flexibility to negotiate on cost with a private sale, but similarly, there can be delays while surveys are carried out, and while you wait for their part of the chain to complete. Understand the timescales involved, decide whether they work for you, and make your offer…
3. Instruct a solicitor and a surveyor to act for you
Congratulations! Your offer has been accepted, so now it’s time to get serious and appoint the experts to act on on your behalf. Your solicitor will handle the legal work around the property you’ve committed to, while the surveyor will inspect your chosen property to check for any problems that could affect the cost of the home.
Your solicitor will also submit searches to the local council to check whether there are any planning or local issues that might affect the property’s value before you continue with the process.
4. Await the results of your Valuation Survey
Prior to lending you the money to buy your home, your mortgage provider will require a Valuation Survey to determine if the property you’ve chosen is worth the sum you’ve asked them for.
Not all lenders charge for this, though depending on the value of the property, they can cost as little as £150, or as much as £1,500. It is not a detailed survey, and in the case of a second-hand property, it will not shed light on any repairs or maintenance required.
5. Commission a property survey
Detailed property surveys are essential to highlight any concerns and avoid costly problems further down the line. Invest in a good survey – this is not something to scrimp on, as it could ultimately bring your attention to issues that will enable you to renegotiate the price of your home. Should the survey highlight details that require repairs, for example, you are in a strong position to request that the seller lowers the price to reflect the cost of carrying those out.
With a new-build property, it is rare that a survey is requested – the specification has been agreed from the point of reservation.
There are several types of survey available, from RICS condition reports, homebuyer reports or comprehensive structural surveys, and the costs are reflected in how detailed they are. Find out more about what each involves here.
6. Finalise your offer and mortgage
Fingers crossed, everything has gone to plan so far and your mortgage request has been accepted and the surveys haven’t highlighted any concerns. However, should the offer be rejected because the mortgage provider doesn’t think the property is worth what you’re planning to pay, or if the surveys have identified issues that need to be addressed, now is the time to renegotiate to avoid having to go back to the drawing board and find an alternative property.
But, if everything has gone smoothly, you can now contact your mortgage advisor or lender and ask to proceed. If everything has gone according to plan, contact your lender or mortgage adviser to proceed: this can involve an Arrangement Fee, which can be anything up to £2,000. It may be that your provider offers to add it onto the cost of the mortgage, but do bear in mind that you’ll pay interest on that for the life of your mortgage.
One you’re in receipt of the binding mortgage offer, you have a minimum of seven days to consider it is the right option and compare it with other offers. Once you’re sure you’re ready to go ahead, let the lender know that you want to proceed with the purchase.
7. Exchange contracts
Providing there are no delays, you should soon be in receipt of your contract to sign and complete your purchase. Go through this carefully with your solicitor and make sure every detail is correct before you put pen to paper!
Ensure that any questions you had have been answered, and if you’ve agreed for the sellers to leave items in the property, or arranged for certain appliances or fixtures and fittings to be included in a new-build sale, make sure you’re happy they’re all detailed correctly.
You and the seller are now in a formal contract and committed to completing the sale, and as such, you will exchange contracts to complete the process.
8. Put Building Insurance in place
From the moment you’ve submitted your contract, you should make sure you have insured the structure of your new home to ensure it is fully protected.
By now, the money owed to you to allow you to buy the property will be winging its way from your solicitor’s account to the seller’s account. You’ll now need to pay that legal bill, minus the deposit and searches fees if they were paid in advance.
Your solicitor will register the sale with the Land Registry, and if your home has cost over £125,000, you will have 30 days from the completion date to pay Stamp Duty, which they will also arrange for you.
For second/additional homes, or buy-to-let properties, you’ll be charged an additional three per cent on top of each Stamp Duty band.
10. Welcome Home!
Ensure all the details are in place – that you know the Utilities providers and have accurate readings when a second-hand property is vacated. If there is an existing alarm system in place, check you know how to operate it, that you know the codes, and how to change them before taking occupation – you don’t want to meet your neighbours over the screaming of a siren!
Fix your moving in day and get quotes from reputable moving firms before committing – weekdays will generally cost you less than popular Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Arrange collection of your new set of keys, get a spare set cut for emergencies, and open your new front door… Congratulations!