Guides to Buy Property

Whether you are looking at properties for sale or looking to buy an investment property, it can be a stressful time – not for a client of Properties on the Market!

We have created easy to understand, step-by-step guides to help.

1. Why are you buying?

First and most importantly, understand completely why you are buying as this will have an effect on other choices you make when looking at properties for sale.

Will this be a family home, a property for the children, a second home, are you relocating or are you looking at investment properties for sale?

If you are purchasing a new home, are you looking to scale up, scale down or maybe just a change of scenery?

It may seem a simple thing at first, and it is, depending on the why, you now have to consider your budget.

2. Deciding your budget

For many, when buying a property this will be a long-term financial commitment, so it’s vital that you set yourself a realistic purchasing budget and avoid over stretching yourself.

Be disciplined and make sure that you can comfortably meet your monthly mortgage repayments as your home may be at risk should you not. Take into consideration any other financial commitments and if you have a financial buffer to cover any unexpected costs.

When buying a home or an investment property don’t forget to take into consideration other costs and account for each of the following:

  • Conveyancing and solicitor fees
  • Searches and disbursements - usually between £35 and £200
  • Land Registry fee
  • Stamp duty
  • Surveying costs.
  • Lender arrangement fee
  • Mortgage advice fee - consider using a mortgage adviser that doesn't charge a fee

Calculating the approximate sum total of these extra costs and then subtracting it from your combined mortgage and deposit will provide you with your final estimated property budget.

If you are uncertain, then speak with a member of the Properties on the Market team and we will be able to assist.

3.  Property Selection and Location

You know why you are buying, you have a budget in mind, it’s always a great idea to know what kind of property you would like and where you want it to be!

With so many properties for sale, have an idea of what type of property you would like to view, this will also depend on your budget and why you are looking at properties for sale.

4. Finding your property

You have established a budget, you know why, you know where, so we are half way there and the next step is to investigate the property market, or if you like “The How”.

To find the right property, you can scour the local press, estate agent windows, or even drive around areas that you are interested in moving to in search of “For-Sale” signs, they all work! 

The easiest, most time efficient and common way of researching the property market yourself as we all know is online!  With so many sites and forms to fill in it’s important that you use the right ones as it may not be as simple as you think.

Finding an Agent

Finding the right agent or agents to help in your search for the right property can be key.  It’s a very competitive market place, properties for sale, properties for rent, with some agents also having exclusivity when selling properties.

Established agents will know the local area and should also be the first to know when a property that fits your criteria comes to market - it’s their market so let them do the work for you!

Properties on the Market estate agents have a long-history of success and are renowned for their unmatched expertise.  When looking at residential or investment properties for sale here are some tips to help you get the most from estate agents:

  • Be clear about your requirements - tell the agent which of your property requirements are fixed, and which are more flexible
  • Be clear about the locations you will and won't consider
  • Demonstrate that you're a 'hot' buyer - this will help to ensure you are top of mind when suitable properties come to market
  • After viewings give as much feedback to your estate agent as possible – this will give a better idea of what you like and dislike

5. The viewing process

In the majority of cases, once you find a property that meets your requirements the next step is to arrange a viewing. The only exception really is for those who are looking at investment properties for sale at auctions.  Although it can be rewarding at times, not viewing a property can be a risky strategy, so if you can, speak to as many agents as possible before bidding on a property.

Before viewing any property make a list of the pros and cons, this will then enable you to make an informed decision – here are some additional considerations

Consider the exterior - assess what the street is like and how well maintained the properties are, this will give you an indication of the desirability of the area.

Look at the property itself, does it have private off-street parking? Is the front of the property in good repair? Are there slates or tiles missing from the roof? Are there water marks on the front of the property from leaky gutters?

Consider the Interior - does the layout of the home work for you?

Check out the size of the rooms and think about the furniture and fittings that you have, so don’t be afraid to take your tape measure with you.

Investigate storage, does the property have built in wardrobes or will you need to account for reduced floor area for additional cupboard space?

When viewing properties for sale, don't be put off by the decor, this can easily be changed so shouldn't prevent you from bidding for a property that ticks all of the other boxes.

Ask the owner lots of questions

Why they're moving, what the neighbours are like, and how many viewings they've had, what the average utility bills are or if they have had any work done on the property.

If you like a property after seeing it, do not be afraid to go back for a second or even a third viewing before you make an offer. Remember, properties for sale will look different at different times so try to view the property during daylight and during the evening. Further, if it’s possible try to create extra time to spend in the local area checking for things such as traffic flow and parking etc.

A good agent should know the answers to each of these questions, but for your own piece of mind ask questions, after all you are the one looking to spend or invest tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of pounds!

6. Making an offer

When you find a property that meets your requirements be positive and decisive because in an active market, properties can sometimes sell in hours so it is vital to move quickly if you can.

If you have asked the right questions you will know that in many cases vendors are open to offers, so don’t be afraid to start off with an offer that suits you.

Having found a property that you like, you are now ready to commit to a purchase so speak to the agent. Don’t forget that as soon as you are in a position to make an offer that you should instruct property solicitors who will manage all the legalities of the transaction.

7. Organising a survey

Any properties for sale require a survey prior to purchase and ensure this is carried out before you finalise the purchase. If any problems are discovered they may simply be cosmetic or could prove expensive or problematic. In any case, the result of a survey could mean renegotiating the purchase, so it’s a very important step of the properly buying process.

Mortgage valuation

For those of us who require a mortgage, a surveyor will be instructed to value the property on behalf of the mortgage lender. This will assess the monetary value of the property along with top-level comments on the overall condition of the building which may have an adverse effect on the valuation.

It is important to not confuse a mortgage valuation with a Homebuyers Report or Building Survey, in many cases the buyer will have to pay for these.

Different homes require different types of Survey but they should always be carried out by a member of The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). In addition to a property valuation there are three levels of service in the RICS Home surveys suite.

RICS Condition Report

Typically the lowest priced of the surveys, a condition report offers guidance to legal advisers highlighting any urgent defects and is aimed at conventional or newer properties.

RICS Homebuyer report

Also known as a 'Homebuyer Survey and Valuation', this is a more detailed survey that is carried out on the purchaser's behalf. The survey includes all the features of the RICS condition report, including valuation along with insurance rebuild costs.

The survey assesses the general condition of the property including dampness, timbers, evaluating any major faults that may affect the property value and maintenance options.

RICS Building survey

Also known as a Structural survey, this is a more in-depth study that culminates in a detailed and lengthy report on the condition of the property.

This is essential for older or larger properties and properties that you are planning to carry out major works on.

If you have any doubt which survey is best for you, speak to a member of the Properties on the Market team who will be able to provide advice on your options and will then find a reputable surveyor to carry out the work on your behalf.

Once the survey has taken place you will be provided with a copy of the report. Should there be any concerning issues, request a meeting at the property so that you are able to see any damage or areas of contention for yourself.

8. The completion process

Having searched for properties for sale, you are now closing in on the finishing line. Prior to exchange of contract your solicitor will:

  • Organise all of the required local authority searches on your behalf.
  • Receive replies to questions raised and report to you with details of the contract for signing.
  • Request and hold your deposit.
  • Deal with the formal mortgage offer and all the conditions on your behalf.
  • Receive the search results and communicate any problems.

Your solicitor will liaise with the vendors legal representatives and any agents, once contracts have been exchanged, your solicitor will then:

  • Transfer your deposit to the seller's solicitor.
  • Prepare a final completion statement for your approval.
  • Organise collection and payment of any balance of funds required.
  • Prepare the deed of transfer and mortgage deed and arrange for you to sign them.
  • Organise final searches to check for debts and bankruptcy.

On completion, your solicitor will:

  • Receive and arrange for payment of any stamp duty, this is a Government tax charged on the proportion of property price that falls within the particular rate band. To find out the current rates and banding, please visit www.gov.uk and search ‘stamp duty’.
  • Prepare and send off application to HM Land Registry to register your ownership.
  • Send deeds to the lender (if the property is mortgaged).
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