Living in the UK

Buying a property in the UK

If you’re planning to stay in the UK on a permanent basis, you may consider purchasing a property. This guide details the process of buying a property in the UK.

Find out how much you can borrow

A good start to finding out how much you can borrow is to make a free initial appointment to see what kind of mortgage you can afford.

Mortgage advisors often have access to a comprehensive range of mortgages across the market and are in the best position to advise you on your options. Mortgage advisors then usually help you to obtain a Decision in Principle (DIP) from a suitable lender, this gives you the freedom to start looking for a property. A DIP states that the lender could, in principle, give you a mortgage up to a certain amount. When you have found a property you wish to buy, your estate agent will then use this to confirm you are in the required financial position.

Searching for a property

Estate agents and property portals allow you to register for daily updates of new properties available. It could also be worth contacting some local estate agents within the area you are looking to buy, they may be able to offer their top tips for up-and-coming neighbourhoods.

Arrange a viewing

Booking a viewing is the next step after finding a property you are interested in. Most estate agents offer virtual viewings as well as in-person viewings to help you get an idea of whether or not you like a property before taking the time to visit in person.

Some house viewing tips include:

  • Doing a drive-by, especially at different times of the day/night
  • Making a list of important questions you intend to ask
  • Take someone with you to the viewing, this helps to get a second opinion
  • Check the outside of the property for things such as damp or loose tiles on the roof

Making an offer

When given a DIP, your lender is prepared to consider a mortgage application for up to a stated amount. If you already have a solicitor, having them at the ready is also a good idea when it’s time to make an offer. Sometimes first offers are not accepted, but don’t be disheartened, remember both you and the seller are negotiating for the best price.

When the seller’s estate agent has the details of both parties’ solicitors, they will confirm that the sale is agreed, subject to contract. You will receive a Memorandum of Sale to confirm this.

Finding a solicitor

Conveyancing is everything that needs to happen to make the property officially yours. It can be a confusing process and you need a solicitor to make it happen.

Completing your mortgage application

Next, you should get back in touch with your mortgage advisor to agree on a mortgage deal for you to complete the application. This would also be a good time to consider how to protect your mortgage such as should the worst happen.

Mortgage valuation

In most cases, your mortgage lender will arrange this valuation, which confirms to them that the property is worth what you are being lent. It will not give details on the condition of the property.

House survey

Booking in a house survey helps you to find out the condition of the property. Without having a survey done, you may not be aware of the work that needs to be done to the property and how much it could cost.

Drafting the contract

The seller’s solicitor will receive the title deeds from the seller and draw up a contract which will be sent on to your solicitor. Once received, they will then contact the seller’s solicitor to confirm what is included in the sale. Your solicitor will enquire about things like the boundaries, any disputes and any alterations that have been made. Your solicitor will also perform searches of Land Registry and Local Authority information. They will check for things such as planning history, potential developments around roads, drainage and mining all near the property.

Mortgage confirmed

The next step should be you receiving your mortgage offer along with all the terms and conditions surrounding your mortgage. You will need this before you can exchange contracts.

Get insured

This would be a great time to get quotes for your property and contents insurance. Don’t forget, you need all relevant insurance policies to begin from the exchange of contracts date.

Sign the contract and agree on moving in dates

Your solicitor will get in touch and tell you when it is time to sign your name on the contract to complete it. Then both yours and the seller’s solicitors will agree on a date for the exchange of contracts which is your moving-in day. Your deposit will then be sent to the seller’s solicitor, along with the signed contract. You are now legally bound to the purchase. All relevant insurance contracts should now be put into force.

Remember you’ll need to inform all of your utility companies who will need to take meter readings. Not forgetting everyone else who needs to know your change of address such as your employer, the bank and family members.

Your solicitor will pay the balance of the purchase price to the seller’s solicitor. Once the money is received, the seller’s solicitor will inform the estate agent and the keys will be released.

At this point, the property is then yours.

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