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The Buying Process

How do you buy a property? Where do you even start? The process can be pretty intimidating, especially if you’ve never done it before. Buying a home means a lot of paperwork, procedures and different people getting involved. Understanding roughly who does what and when before you start can make the whole experience a lot less stressful.

Cardwells Estate Agents has tried to lay out these basic steps to becoming a homeowner in England, Wales or Northern Ireland in the hope of making things a little clearer for you:

1. Do your homework.

Buying a house is a massive investment and getting it just slightly wrong can be costly. Unless you have big savings, chances are you’re going to have to get a mortgage. Don’t be confused by the term; a mortgage is just a loan for buying a house. It’s secured against the property which means if you can’t meet the repayments the lender may repossess and sell it to get their money back.

The better you understand mortgages and everything to do with them, the better armed you will be to get the very best deal.

2. Find a mortgage.

When it comes to finding a mortgage you have several options: mortgage brokers, individual banks or searching online. Searching online gives you a good idea of what’s available. However, an independent mortgage broker can then provide a more in-depth search and help you through the process. Once you have found the best mortgage for your circumstances the lender will give you an agreement in principle.

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3. Put in an offer.

Once you’ve found the place you want, you’ll need to make an offer for it. You can do this without already having an agreement in principle in place, but having one means the offer is more likely to be accepted and everything going through smoothly. If the seller agrees to the offer then the buying process can go ahead. It’s worth noting that you won’t be obliged to go through with the deal if there’s a problem with the survey or contract.

4. Get a professional to handle the paperwork.

You will need to hire a solicitor or licensed conveyancer to take care of all the legal aspects of the sale. They will also check for any planning or local issues that may affect the property’s value.

5. Arrange a survey.

A survey assesses the property for any potential problems. Your lender will also insist on getting the property valued to check that it’s worth the asking price.

There are three types of survey you can choose from:

  • Condition report. The cheapest and most basic survey, it tends to be used on conventional homes or new builds. It doesn’t include a valuation or investigation into possible future repairs.
  • Homebuyer report. More expensive and thorough, this examines both the inside and outside of the property and includes an additional valuation.
  • Building or structural survey. The most comprehensive option, this is more suited to older or unusual properties like converted barns.

The advice from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors is to get in touch with a local surveyor to discuss the best option for you. If the survey throws up any problems the surveyor will usually give you an idea of how much they would cost to fix. You might decide to renegotiate the price with the seller or pull out of the deal altogether.

6. Exchange contracts.

If your solicitor/conveyancer and surveyor are happy, now is the time to sign the contract and exchange with the seller. At this stage you have to pay a deposit. This is usually 10% of the total price. Once this happens the buyer and seller are committed to the sale. Pulling out of the deal means you’re likely to lose your deposit.

7. Complete.

This is where the property actually becomes yours. You get the keys and the deeds, but there are some bills to pay:

  • The remaining cost of the property (usually 90%). This is transferred from your mortgage lender to your legal representative and then to the seller’s representative.
  • Your solicitor or conveyancer’s fees.
  • Stamp duty (a government tax). The costs are laid out here and the payments will be arranged by your solicitor or conveyancer.
  • Any removal costs.

Then all that remains is for you to move into your new home. Congratulations!

We have offices in Bolton and Bury, with our areas of selling covering much of Lancashire. We have property for sale around the North West, including Manchester. We will be more than happy to help you with any aspect of the home buying experience, whether it’s simply just a bit of advice, or you’ve seen a house you’ve set your heart on but aren’t sure what to do next. Call into one of our branches (we also cover Walkden and Worsley) or pay us a visit to see exactly what we can do for you.

Mortgage / Financial services