Homes don’t grow on trees. Getting from mortgage ready to moving into your first home can be fraught with difficulties and delays. Buying a home for most people can be one of the most stressful things you do in life and one of, if not the most, expensive purchases you make. However, buying a home can also be incredibly exciting and rewarding. So, we’ve written this short guide on what to think about to hopefully take out some of the stress. This is the final instalment of a three part series including why it’s so hard to buy a home in part 1, and what to do to be mortgage ready in part 2.
1. View properties within your budget
Have a look on your chosen property listing site or through your local estate agent, find the properties you like and reach out to the agents to arrange viewings. You can also register directly with an agent and they can contact you sometimes before listing hit the website. During this process try being as flexible as possible to avoid disappointment. It can happen that homes get taken off the market while you are still waiting to view them.
It’s important to be clear on your must have criteria for a home and where you are willing to compromise. For example, having three bedrooms may be essential for your family size, but is it as important to you that you have off street parking? Depending on your budget and area you might not be able to get everything on your wish list.
When you do get an appointment, don’t rush it. Take your time to assess the condition of the home, ask questions, make sure you view the surrounding area and picture yourself living there.
Here are some useful questions to ask the owner or agent when viewing:
- Why is the current owner selling?
- How long has the property been on the market?
- How much is the council tax and other running costs for the property?
- Have there been any recent repairs or renovations?
- What fixtures and fittings are included in the sale?
- Is the property leasehold or freehold? Are there any associated costs to this?
- What is the local neighbourhood and community like?
- Have there been any recent surveys or inspections, and what was their outcome?
- Is there a history of flooding or subsidence in the area?
- What are the local transport links like?
- Are there any future developments or infrastructure projects planned for the area?
- What is the timeline or process of any offers to be made? When will a decision be made?
Further to these, make sure you do your own research. Finding out things like the EPC (Energy Performance Certificate), flood risk for the property, council tax bill, sale history of the property, local schools and planning permission can all be found online. These are all things your solicitor can and will do as part of their service, but it can save you a lot of time and money later if you find something early that would cause you to pull out later.
2. Making an Offer
So you’ve found a home within your budget, and you want to buy it! This can be both an extremely exciting and scary part of the homebuying process. It’s time to put in an offer for the home that makes sense to you. Don’t be scared to negotiate and make sure you can afford what you’re offering. Considering the current market conditions can be important but hard to determine if you’re not used to it.
If properties are staying on the market for a longer period and you can see sellers are reducing prices, don’t be scared about offering lower than their guide or asking price. However, if properties are going quickly and the specific property is well priced it may end up going for higher than its guide or asking price. Hopefully some of the research you have done and questions to the selling agent will help you determine the best route for your negotiation. As always make sure it is a price you are happy and able to pay, it’s easier said than done but trying to take emotion out of the negotiation process can help.
Remember, agents are obliged to pass on your offer even if they tell you it’s too low. You are in charge of your offer amount and the seller is in charge of their decision. Explain your situation to the agent and make it clear that you’re serious. It goes without saying, but try not to show your cards. Telling an agent that you can go up another £10,000 if rejected will probably mean they will tell the seller to push you up another £10,000. You get the idea.
It's also important that you don’t agree a price that’s more than the home is worth as a mortgage lender will need to value it later and they may not agree with the amount. This could make your mortgage more expensive. There are several online valuation tools you can use to get an idea if the asking price is sensible.
3. Offer accepted what next?
After a bit of back and forth, maybe some rejection and several properties, you may get the answer you were looking for! Congratulations you have had an offer accepted on the property, now the real work begins.
You will need a solicitor or a conveyancer to process the transaction, so ask around, do your research, and get quotes. Remember cheaper isn’t always better. The selling agent may also refer you to a conveyancer or a mortgage broker. If you’re happy with them feel free to use them but remember you’re under no obligation and can choose your own. Don’t feel pressured into accepting an agent’s preferred provider.
Your conveyancer or solicitor will help guide you through the homebuying process. There will be multiple forms to complete and review but don’t be scared to ask if you don’t understand anything. Ask friends and family who have bought before as they can help you look at surveys and things like that.
If you’re buying with a mortgage, reach out to your lender or mortgage broker and provide them with the details of the purchase. A broker will assist you in submitting a mortgage application to the most appropriate lender and getting you that all important full mortgage offer.
You will also need to get a property survey done, if you’re buying with a mortgage they will likely carry out a valuation survey, but this will be for their purposes only. You can either look to get your own independent valuation carried out or your mortgage provider may offer the option to upgrade the valuation to be a homebuyer’s survey & valuation that can be shared with you. There are generally three different types of reports that can be conducted, a condition survey (level 1) generally used by the lender only, a homebuyer survey (level 2) most commonly provided for a standard homebuying transaction, and full structural survey or full building survey (level 3) which would often only be carried out if there were structural concerns or defects.
Once you have received your valuation report make sure you review it in full, there will normally be guidance provided on this report, feel free to refer back to both your valuer and your solicitor on anything you don’t understand. If there are any items in the survey that need attention, such as a leaky roof or drainage problem, you may need to negotiate again with the seller to get it fixed or reduce the price of the home so you can repair after you move in.
The next step is likely to be a mortgage offer approved if you have provided all the relevant information requested. Again, review your mortgage offer and make sure it is what you expect. Your mortgage broker or solicitor can assist you if you have any concerns.
Finally, your conveyancer will be continuing with all enquiries, they will provide you with information regarding the purchase. Again, if you’re unsure on anything ask your solicitor to give you guidance.
4. Exchange Contracts
We’re getting there, keep in mind property purchases are a long process and it may take some time to get to this point. Keep talking to your solicitor to keep updated on the expected timelines. You may need to chase them to keep things moving forward. Many solicitors have 100s of clients!
Once the legal and financial aspects are in order you and the seller will exchange contracts. You will have to provide part of your deposit at this time, normally 10% of the property value but your solicitor will take the lead on this. Once you exchange contracts it is legally binding and commits both parties to the sale. When you’re transferring any amounts of money, we would recommend getting in direct contact with your solicitor to confirm the account details, ideally by phone or in person.
It will also be your legal responsibility to insure the property at the exchange of contracts. So, take a look at price comparison websites for cheap buildings insurance that meets your needs.
5. Completion and moving in
Almost there, now just for the final steps. You will pay the final amounts to your solicitor to cover the remainder of any deposit and your stamp duty. The property is now yours! Confirm how you can collect keys normally via the selling agent and open the door to your new home.
Make sure you plan your move in advance, are you hiring a removals company? This may be worthwhile if you have a large number of items to move and don’t have access to any storage.
Transfer utilities and services and change your address. Unfortunately, another painful process but updating your address details is important so you don’t miss any correspondence but is also required. Below is a list of the likely providers you may have to contact:
- Royal Mail, they can provide redirection on your post whilst you get sorted
- Utility companies, gas, electricity, internet and water. If your property isn’t connected to mains gas you may also need to look at an oil provider or similar.
- Council tax, contact your local council to update your address and make sure your council tax is accurate
- Electoral Register, update your address to make sure you can vote
- HM Revenue and Customers, especially important if you’re self-employed or on benefits.
- Employer, so they can update their records
- Banks and Financial Institutions, contact your banks, credit card companies or any other financial products you use to make sure statements are sent to the right place
- Insurance providers, inform your insurance providers, home, auto, life, health or it may invalidate your insurance if you need to make a claim
- TV licensing, if you require a TV license make sure they’re updated so your new property is licensed
- DVLA, if you drive you must update your driving license and vehicle registration to the new address
- GP and Healthcare Providers, to keep your medical records up to date and receive any correspondence
- Schools and education institutions, if you have children update the address with the school they attend
- Mobile phones and subscription services, to inform them of your change of address so that correspondence and any deliveries are sent to the right place
Please note the above list is not exhaustive and there may be others you need to inform.
Finally finished you can enjoy your new home. There’s a reason that moving house or buying a house can be one of the most stressful experiences a person goes through. But knowing as much as possible and researching for information can help make the process easier. Know the steps and take your time, If ever in doubt ask for guidance.
How Keyzy can help
If buying your home from Keyzy we make just about everything in this process easier. For example:
- Once you found a home you like we take over the negation process for you and get you the best price as professional home buyers
- We buy the home for you from the outset and when it’s time to buy the home back from us we can recommend some solicitors we’ve worked with before
- We instruct and review the survey for you and then walk you through it to make sure you’re comfortable.
- While you’re living with Keyzy we will help you get mortgage ready so when the time comes your application can hopefully go through without an issue.
Please get in touch to understand your options.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be considered as financial advice. The content presented here is not a substitute for professional financial advice tailored to your specific circumstances. We recommend consulting with a qualified financial advisor or seeking guidance from relevant authorities for any financial decisions you may be considering. The author and publisher of this blog are not responsible for any actions taken as a result of reading this content.